The key to where to locate this gorgeous butterfly, the Purple hairstreak, is in its scientific name Favonius quercus – quercus is the genus of the Oak tree – and I suspect that there are many more colonies of Purple hairstreaks living in our old Oak trees than we currently know about, as these butterflies spend much of their time unseen, high in the leafy boughs, feasting on honey dew.
There is a colony at Lavernock, and I’ve seen these butterflies at a couple of locations along the road that leads to Lavernock Point, but they were the only local sites I knew about. So, you can perhaps imagine my delight when, during Thursday’s walk at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, I came face to snout with a female Purple hairstreak, which had ventured down to head height, and was happily running her yellow proboscis over the honey-dew-covered leaves.
This was the closest I’d been to one of these lovely creatures and had previously seen neither the purple sheen on their open wings nor the yellow proboscis. I was in butterfly heaven!