The gatekeepers have emerged

The first gatekeepers of the year have emerged in my garden. Gatekeepers are also known as hedge browns.

Gatekeeper 1
Attractive summer butterflies which can be identified by their bright orange brown colours and the black spot on the forewing which contains two white dots. The similar looking meadow brown is duller and only has one white spot in the black dot.

Gatekeeper 2The underside of the wings which again show the black spot with the two white dots.

This is a species of butterfly which is doing pretty well – it is also spreading northwards into Cumbria and Yorkshire – as a result of climate change it won’t be long before it gets to Scotland.

The brown butterflies – how to identify

Now July is here along with the sunshine our meadows are full of brown butterflies. Initially they can all look the same but with a bit of practice you can tell them apart. Here is how to.

Meadow brown
This is the meadow brown – note one white spot in the black disc.

Meadow brown-2
The underside – again one white spot

Tatty gatekeeper
This is the gatekeeper (or hedge brown) – note 2 white spots

Gatekeeper
The underside – more brightly coloured than the meadow brown and 2 spots

Ringlet 2
And this is the ringlet – a series of black spots on the back end of both sets of wings

Ringlet
The underside is very similar

So I recommend you get outside and see if you can spot all three species – the meadows at Parke and the orchard at Lydford Gorge are good places to start – as is your garden.