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Gatekeeper Butterfly

Pyronia tithonus

Gatekeeper Butterfly, Gatekeeper, Hedge Brown Butterfly, Hedge Brown, Brown Spotted Gatekeeper

A close up photograph of a gatekeeper butterfly Pyronia tithonus resting on a leaf

0 Amaryllis (♀) - Pyronia tithonus - Havré

by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT. CC BY 3.0

1 of 10
Gatekeeper butterflies are a golden-coloured insect and a common sight mid-summer, which is when they begin to emerge. They're a widespread butterfly, present throughout the UK and Europe. They're attracted to small patches filled with flowers, such as gateways, which is why they're named gatekeepers!
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These butterflies are pro pollinators!
Caterpillars may be found feeding on grasses at night.


Adults: The gatekeeper is a medium-sized golden butterfly (wingspan: roughly 4cm). There is a clear difference between males and females. Both adult butterflies comprise orange wings with a thick brown border. They possess a pair of eyespots on the fronts of the forewings (front wings) and a couple of smaller eyespots on the hindwings (back wings). The ratio of orange to brown on the hindwings can vary between individuals, particularly in males. The males possess brown markings on the uppersides of the wings. These are specialised wing scales called androconia, pheromone producing scales involved in mating. Females can sometimes possess additional eyespots on either pair of wings. Caterpillars: They can be either pale pinkish-brown or green. They're covered in long-thin spines with no significant markings. Both morphs possess a creamy pale stripe running down both sides of the body.


Caterpillars may be found on grasses at night.











These butterflies are widespread throughout the UK but tend to be more focused in southern counties.

Biological treatment

These butterflies are important pollinators. They're also a vital resource for garden wildlife like birds, reptiles, and other predatory insects.

Chemical treatment

When caterpillars, these insects tend not to use garden plants as their primary food source, but they may be found on grasses. As they provide valuable pollination services to the garden, chemical treatments are strongly discouraged.


These butterflies thrive in scrubby grassland, woodland rides, country lanes, hedgerows and gateways. Plant the plants below to attract these pretty pollinators to gardens.
Some yellow Senecio jacobaea flowers in the wild

Common Ragwort

Jacobaea vulgaris

A close up of some green Erigeron leaves and white flowers


Erigeron spp.

Wild Marjoram

Origanum laevigatum

A close up of a Teucrium scorodonia plant

Wood Sage

Teucrium scorodonia


Birds, reptiles, mammals and other insects will predate these butterflies.
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