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Brown Hairstreak Eggs Found on the Common

Brown Hairstreak Eggs Found on the Common

Barnes Common volunteers, led by Karen Goldie-Morrison, former Chair and Trustee of Butterfly Conservation, had an exciting day in February, searching for eggs of the rare Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae) butterfly on the Common.

This butterfly lays its tiny, white eggs on blackthorn bushes. The bright green caterpillars, appearing later in the year, are very well camouflaged, with the older caterpillars looking like blackthorn leaves. They only feed at night. The adult butterflies flit around in thick hedges, feeding on bramble flower nectar, or in the treetops of tall ash trees, feeding on aphid honeydew. They can be seen from the end of July until November.

Local photographer Andrew Wilson said: “What a fabulous day it’s been – it started with a sighting of a Sparrowhawk in a neighbour’s garden. It was then followed by a successful egg hunt on the cricket pitch on the Common – eagle-eyed Karen found not one but two Brown Hairstreak Eggs (given they are no larger than a pinhead, that was some going). We then finished up with a sit in the garden at the Red Lion for a well earned drinkie – you can’t better that in February! I then walked back through the village and marvelled at the crocuses everywhere.”

Karen said: “Thank you my fellow egg hunters, Charlotte and Sarah for joining us. And Andrew for the drinkie! We logged one egg in December 2021 and now two in February 2024. Going up… Let’s hope for some more adult sightings in the summer. It was such a lovely spring day.”