THE HAIRSTREAKS

The Hairstreaks are the third subfamily of the “Gossamer-winged” butterflies, the Lycaenidae. The two other subfamilies are the Blues and the Coppers. The adults are small, generally under 5 cm across, and often quite brightly coloured. The larvae tend to be flat, often feeding on the foliage or flowers of shrubs or trees.

In Hadlow we can only really rely on finding the Purple Hairstreak, the larvae of which feed off the buds of oaks, and the adults of which spend their lives feeding off the honeydew that can be found on leaves of oaks, generally high in the canopy. As there are plenty of oaks in Hadlow, there are probably rather more Purple Hairstreaks than most people might think!

Other Hairstreaks found in Kent include the White Letter Hairstreak which feeds off Elms and the Brown Hairstreak, only very recently re-appearing in West Kent near Edenbridge, which feeds off Blackthorn. We are unlikely to see either of these in Hadlow.

A third Hairstreak in the county is the Green Hairstreak which rather unusually is found in Kent on chalk grassland in areas such as Lullingstone, where the larvae feed on herbaceous plants such as Birdsfoot Trefoil. In other environments they find themselves in, such as heathlands, they may however feed on a variety of shrubs. It is possible that we might see one or two of these butterflies in Hadlow if they wander into the parish.

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