Chapman's Green Hairstreak (Callophrys avis)

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2016 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

24261_sex?_Var_18Apr11 24273_sex?_Var_18Apr11 4748_sex?_Var_17Apr07
28697_female_Var_19Apr12 28703_female_Var_19Apr12 28717_female_Var_19Apr12
28741_female_Var_19Apr12 40125_female_Var_13Apr16 40126_female_Var_13Apr16

Avis is a quite scarce and localised butterfly of the Mediterranean regions of France and Iberia. It bears a strong superficial similarity to its close cousin, the ubiquitous and very common Green Hairstreak (C. rubi) with which it often flies, sharing a common flight period. The main differences are that avis is red around the eyes and palpi and has a more reddish feel to the wings, and the underside of the entire length of the antennal club is orange in avis, whereas for rubi just the tip of the club is orange and it is black underneath.


Rubi is clearly white around the eyes, although it should be pointed out that the very narrow area immediately behind and adjacent to the eyes is white in avis; it is a matter of extent. The area around the eyes can be slightly reddish in rubi, and again it is a matter of extent. The area immediately in front of the eyes is probably the best area to look, where rubi is clearly white and avis clearly reddish. The redness detail is shown more clearly in the enlarged photograph 4748 below.


The avis legs are coloured broadly consistently, not having the clearly striped appearance of rubi, but note that aged and worn rubi legs can appear less striped.


Avis also has a continuous white line extending the length of the undersides of both wings, and rubi has (allegedly) a few white dots at best forming a discontinuous white line not supposedly extending to the forewing. This is sometimes quoted to be a key differentiator between avis and rubi, but judging from my limited experience, it appears not to be completely reliable in all cases. The avis white line appears to be consistent and continuous, but rubi is more variable and can have a white line on the unh and perhaps on the unf as well, but, if so, the line is not continuous.

The most consistent and least confusable indicator is the underside of the antennal club.


Avis is a very early butterfly, appearing in early April (or even earlier) and the flight season is over by early May. It is only found where the larval hostplant, the Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo), grows, and as with many hairstreaks, it is quite sedentary and so could easily be missed, especially as it is green and thus very well camouflaged (neither avis nor rubi settle with wings open). It doesn't seem to stray very far from the larval hostplant which is actually very common and widespread in southern Var, so it is a rather surprising that avis is not (more) common in the region.


I have only seen avis at two locations, one being a coastal location in 2007 (and again in 2011, 2012  and 2016) when it seemed to favour nectaring on White Asphodel (Asphodelus albus) (or a closely related species of Asphodel) growing close to the Strawberry Trees. I have also searched areas where Strawberry Trees grow in profusion, in the area around Lac de Saint-Cassien and in the Massif des Maures, without success. Rubi was flying at Saint-Cassien in April 2010 and several were perched teasingly in Strawberry Trees, but on closer inspection were 100% rubi.




alt. m


? the orange undersides of the antennal clubs are quite visible and clearly orange. The reddishness of the upperside can just be seen at the base of the hindwing. The white discal line is strong and continuous across both unf and unh. These are all sure pointers to avis. The photograph has been rotated anti-clockwise through 90 degrees.



? this does not have the reddish feel of others on this page, but was identified with certainty as avis, the only apparent clue from this photograph being the white line.


4748 ?

the redness around the eyes and the orange underside of the antennal tip are conclusive evidence of avis. As is often the case, if you only think you've seen it, you probably haven't. When you've really seen it, there's no doubt. The white area around the eyes is indicative of rubi. If you can see the white, it isn't avis. It is nectaring on White Asphodel.

28697 F the just-visible upperside shows signs of the reddishness. On studying the magnified image, the end of the foreleg appears to be articulated and identical to the mid-leg and hind-leg and not hooked, which confirms that this is a female. This is true for the next three individuals, 19 April being near the end of the flight period, so it is possible that all of the males had ceased to exist. 30
28703 F a rather golden yellow specimen, whereas most were quite "clean" green without a hint of yellow. 30
28717 F nectaring deep into the White Asphodel. 30
28741 F a typical avis. 30
40125 F a rather worn and grainy female, having lost its reddish hue and the unh white line ahs also almost disappeared through ageing. The view of the underside of the antenna conclusively confirms that it is avis and not rubi. 30
40126 F an aerial shot of both avis (left) and rubi (right), exactly as it was in nature and not engineered in any way. The two species often fly in company, and this may be the reason avis is often missed. The difference in the underside of their respective antennal clubs can be clearly seen, as well as the reddishness of avis around the eyes and the non-stripiness of the avis legs. 30
28747 ovum an ovum, white and rather flat. This appears to be the normal location for egg-laying, in the leaf joints in the more mature areas of the Strawberry Tree. 30