Brown Hairstreak butterfly
The brown hairstreak butterfly (Thecla betulae )can be seen only in autumn between August and October. The pictures are those of a female, the under wings of the male have slightly different markings and the orange markings on the upper wings of the male are smaller. They are a species of woodland and hedgerows and can be seen congregating around woodland trees in glades where they perform their courtship rituals. They feed on the flowers of bramble and also on the honeydew extruded onto leaves by aphids. Brown hairstreaks have a fairly short life lasting only about three weeks. The female lays her eggs on the leaves of sloe which is a plant producing purple berries in the autumn. They like to spend their time high in trees but can also be seen at lower levels. Brown hairstreaks are now rare in the UK because much of their habitat has been destroyed. I have never actually seen one in the UK and the pictures on this page were taken on holiday in France.
The pictures are all of the same butterfly showing what a dramatic difference in wing pattern from above and below.
Click on pictures below to enlarge (only when NOT in slideshow mode).