Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae)

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2021 photographs highlighted in yellow. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

14398_female_Var_29Sep08 36491_male_Rhône_23Jul14 36532_male_Rhône_23Jul14
36479_male_Rhône_23Jul14 14402_female_Var_29Sep08 9187_female_Charente_14Aug07

9187 was only the second betulae I have ever seen, the first being some seven years ago previously in the same general area. They seem to be very sedentary and elusive. This one was nectaring in the shadows and I have had to lighten the photograph considerably in order to be able to see it, hence the white background. It seems to be quite a worn individual, having lost the strong brown-orange of fresh specimens.


In 2008 I noticed 14398 when it landed on the ground. It was not at all clear what it was doing, but had its wings partially open for a minute or two before closing them. Naturally, it settled behind some sprigs of grass, hence the obscured photograph. As soon as I tried to move the grass, it disappeared.

I did not see one after 2008 until 2014. It is particularly scarce in Var and my sighting in 2008 is one of only three made in that département since 1998. I only saw it in 2014 because I visited a known site at the right time of year.

A superb video of the life-cycle of betulae has been produced by Filming VarWild and can be viewed on YouTube here:

ref sex


alt. m
14398 F

a female, as the male does not have the prominent orange upf bands. As mentioned above, I have no idea what the purpose of its ground level activities were, as it did not appear to be doing anything. It is not a species I would have expected to see at ground level. I had never seen one in Var (or, indeed, anywhere outside western France) before this one.

36491 M I really have no idea if this is actually a male. I recall at the time that it seemed slightly on the small side. H&R says that the female is a more intense red-orange colour and the markings are more pronounced. However, on this score, all three individuals seen at this location in 2014 appear to be the same sex. They were nectaring constantly and I did not clearly see any in flight where the upf orange bands of the female may have become apparent. The unf post-discal band seems shorter than the other two, but is this significant? 180
36532 M the comments on 36491 above apply here, too. 180
36479 M I suspect this may have been a female but only as I recall it appearing rather larger than the other two. However, on studying the magnified image, the end of the foreleg appears to be hooked, which confirms that this is a male. 180
14402 F

the underside of 14398.

9187 F

I'm guessing that 9187 is a female based only on the just-visible body shape.