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Gray Hairstreak

Lisa G. Putman

Joined November 2007

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Artist's Description

Gray Hairstreak ~ Strymon melinus (Hübner, 1818)

This little guy was less than an inch wide with its wings open. He was a challenge to chase down also.

Family: Gossamer-wing Butterflies (Lycaenidae)

Subfamily: Hairstreaks (Theclinae)

Identification: One tail on hindwing. Upperside blue-gray with large red spot near tail. Underside of spring/fall form is dark gray, summer form is paler gray. Relatively straight postmedian line is white, bordered with orange on the inside edge.

Life history: Males perch all afternoon on small trees and shrubs to seek receptive females. Eggs are laid singly on flowers of host plant. Young caterpillars feed on flowers and fruits; older ones may eat leaves. Chrysalids hibernate.

Flight: Two flights from May-September in the north, three-four flights from February-November in the south.

Wing span: 7/8 – 1 3/8 inches (2.2 – 3.5 cm).

Caterpillar hosts: Flowers and fruits from an almost endless variety of plants; most often from pea (Fabaceae) and mallow (Malvaceae) families including beans (Phaseolus), clovers (Trifolium), cotton (Gossypium), and mallow (Malva).

Adult food: Nectar from many flower species including dogbane, milkweed, mint, winter cress, goldenrod, tick trefoil, and white sweet clover.

Habitat: Open, nonforested sites; common in disturbed, weedy areas.

Range: Throughout continental United States from southern Canada south to Mexico; southward to Venezuela. Comments: The most widespread hairstreak in North America.

Conservation: Not usually required.

NatureServe Global Status: G5 – Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

Management needs: Caterpillars may cause economic damage to bean and cotton crops.

Artwork Comments

  • Eyeleen
  • Stephanie Hillson
  • Cheri  McEachin
  • Squealia
  • Jenna  Cornell
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