Hairstreak Butterflies

The larger and brighter butterflies, like Monarchs and Tiger Swallowtails, tend to get most of our attention. Recently, however, I have been trying to become more informed about one group of small and less colorful butterflies that are found in Eliza Howell Park — Hairstreaks.

Hairstreaks are small — with a wingspan of only about 1 inch — and they close their wings when they perch.

The most common Hairstreak in EHP is, probably

Banded Hairstreak

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Most Hairstreaks have narrow “tails” on the hindwing. They fly rapidly and, given their small size, are not identifiable until they perch. Even then, it is often difficult to tell one Hairstreak from another.

The next one looks like a Hickory Hairstreak, though I probably would not have been able to recognize that  without havng the photo to study.

Hickory Hairstreak

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The identification challenge is further exemplified by the most recent species I have been able to photograph:

Acadian Hairstreak.

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Before I became more familiar with Hairstreaks, a small tailed butterfly always made me think of the Eastern Tailed-Blue. The lovely blue color is only visible when the wings are open, which is rarely the case when it is perched.

It is not a Hairstreak, but it adds to the identification challenge.

Eastern Tailed-Blue

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It is not necessary to be able to distinguish the different species to be able enjoy watching these small butterflies, but getting pictures has enhanced my appreciation. It is fascinating to note the variation in the bands / spots and in the orange and blue coloration.

Here is another Banded Hairstreak.

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Hairstreaks are small and often hard to find, but they do let me get close enough for pictures.

For this I thank them

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