The caterpillar sheds its skin five times, hibernating over winter. In emerges in the spring and feeds only at night on fine grasses, such as fescues. The cream-coloured chrysalis hangs upside-down in low vegetation for about three weeks.
As its common name suggests, the Gatekeeper (or Hedge Brown)is often found where clumps of flowers grow in gateways and along hedgerows and field edges. It is frequently seen together with the Meadow Brown and the Ringlet.
The butterfly's upperwings are orange and brown, with a brownish-grey fringe and a black eyespot on the forewing tip and the males have a strongly-marked brown scent band. The underwings resemble a leaf, patterned with various shades of brown and featuring several black eyespots with white pupils.
Both males and females feed on honeydew and whatever nectar is available. Favourite nectar sources include Wild Marjoram, Common Fleabane, ragworts, and Bramble.
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Copyright © Karen Meadows 2018