Gatekeeper butterfly (Andrew Cooper)


Pyronia tithonus

Megan Lowe
David Dennis
Andrew Cooper
Peter Eeles
Tim Melling

Identification Tip

Looks similar to the Meadow Brown but is smaller, with more orange on the top side of its wings.

What do they eat?

Caterpillars munch on a range of grasses, especially the finer grasses such as bents, fescues and meadow-grasses

The adult butterflies sip nectar from flowers including wild marjoram, bramble and common fleabane



Where does it spend the winter?

This butterfly spends the winters as a caterpillar, living on and amongst grasses. It will carry on eating grass through the winter, until eventually turning into a chrysalis the following June. The chrysalis is suspended from a grass stem or blade for around three weeks, until the adult emerges in late June or July.



Flying Season

June - September

Life Cycle


June, July, August, September


July, August, September


January, February, March, April, May, June, August, September, October, November, December


June, July

UK Distribution

Want to learn


There is even more about this species on the main Butterfly Conservation website

Fun Facts
about the Gatekeeper

This butterfly has been given many names over the centuries. ‘Gatekeeper’, ‘Hedge Brown’ and ‘Orange Field’ all come from its habit of living near hedges and open areas.
The ‘Hedge Eye with Double Specs’ and the ‘Lesser Double-eyed Butterfly’ refer to the black eye spots on its wings, which each have two white dots in them (making it different from the similar Meadow Brown, which only has one).