Friday, July 8, 2011

Hairstreak Butterflies

One of my favorite butterfly photographs of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Dense Blazingstar Wildflowers

While birding last summer, I realized that there can be some exciting breeding birds to see, but really, birding becomes a little bit static. Many great nature blogs that I was reading, (Burg Birder in particular) focused a little more on butterflies during this time and if some good birds were seen, then bonus!

Common Buckeye is found easily on PPNP's West Beach Pathway in midsummer.
This Snout Butterfly was found at PPNP in the researchers' lodge parking lot.
Great Spangled Fritillary on Butterfly Milkweed. Common at Ojibway in Early July

So I was familiar with Monarch Butterflies, and some of the big, beautiful Giant and Tiger Swallowtails. Other exciting butterflies seen and photographed last summer include Common Buckeye, Question Mark and Comma as well as Snout butterflies! Baltimore Checkerspot is just a dirt-common butterfly at Ojibway this summer, as well as Great Spangled Fratillary butterflies. You can't forget about Mourning Cloak butterflies which show up in your local forests very early during Spring.

But this posting is about a particular type of butterfly... Hairstreaks. They are really cool butterflies. They are pretty common and offer challenging identification opportunities. I must say, I saw a "Coral Hairstreak" last week with its bright orange spots (see below) and that was pretty exciting! Check out some photos below of Hairstreaks:

 Banded Hairstreak (on the roof of my car at Point Pelee)

 Striped Hairstreak

Coral Hairstreak on Butterfly Milkweed

Hickory Hairstreak

Grey Hairstreak

I'm still looking for an Edwards and White-M Hairstreak.  Non-Hairstreak butterflies I would love to see are Tawny or Hackberry Emperor, Milberts Tortoishell and oddly enough, American Copper!

So next time your out enjoying nature, don't just look for the large obvious butterflies... Look a little closer at the flowers and you might be pleasantly surprised at the tiny butterflies that are not obvious to most people. If you give them a chance, they can make for an exciting discovery. One thing about Hairstreaks you need to appreciate is that they are only 1-1.5cm in size. You could cover these hairstreaks with a nickel. Its good to have optics or a decent camera to document what you're looking at!

To identify these Hairstreaks, I recommend getting a butterfly guide. I bought one (Photo Field Guide to the Butterflies of Southern Ontario) at Ojibway Nature Center for about $10 and has been very useful. Next topic: Duskywings and Skippers... not!

Yours in birding,

Carmichael Ian, "Photo Field Guide to the Butterflies of Southern Ontario",  Print, 2003, Alymer Express St Thomas Ontario.


  1. White-M very rare!
    I recognize that Striped Hairstreak!
    Gray Hairstreaks are neat too (different genus).

  2. thanks for the butterfly primer.
    i'd never think to look for those little ones.

  3. Great series, the Swallowtail is a spectacular image!!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...