The Green Hairstreak is a tiny butterfly- the closed wing is little bigger than the nail on my little finger. In a perfect demonstration of the value of doing your homework first, I thought I had seen one some years ago, because the Green Hairstreak is touted as the UK’s only green butterfly, and I’d seen a green butterfly before. This one had a wing the size of the lens on my glasses, so I thought that that was what they looked like. In fact, that butterfly was a Brimstone, a yellow butterfly that occasionally comes in a pale green variation. So I’d spent a lot of time looking for a buttterfly which was the wrong size and didn’t exist. The penny dropped when I was looking for Large Blue butterflies early one morning and got a brief flash of dazzling green from a gorse bush. It came from a tiny green metallic butterfly, which stayed long enough for me to look at it for a second before flying away. Ever since, I’d wanted to see one again.
Today I got my chance. I’d been on a fruitless search for the Duke of Burgundy butterfly, which is a similar size to the Green. I was walking despondently back to the car when I caught a movement of a small butterfly. My heart did a quick double-flip: It was the Duke! No, it wasn’t. But it’s a Green Hairstreak! Yes, I’m sad enough to get that excited. This small Butterfly is actually brown from above, but always settles with its wings closed, so we see the beautiful metallic green of its underwing. This one was a male: I watched it rise to attack a couple of common blues when they strayed over its territory. Unfortunately the territory it was defending was behind a barbed-wire fence, which I spent so long leaning on that I came home with a series of puncture marks on my arm. But that’s a small price to pay to finally get up close and personal with the Queen of Green (OK, this one was male, but don’t spoil the ending, okay?)