Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Juniper Hairstreak

Juniper Hairstreak- Click to enlarge
It is always exciting to see a new species on Bull Creek.  This afternoon I noticed a small butterfly on the gravel of our road along a cedar glade.  It remained patiently still as I bent down close enough to make out its green coloration with a touch of orange.  I was able to aim my camera blindly and take pictures up to three inches away.

Now it was time to call up Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) as a resource.  The tiny "hair" on the back edge of each wing identified it as a hairstreak, but which one?  Selecting "Image Gallery" and entering "hairstreak" in the common name box brings up this page.  From there it was just a matter of matching the pictures. 

Juniper Hairstreak, Callophrys gryneus, was a perfect match.  Clicking on the name below the picture brings up the facts.  Wikipedia says "Habitats include bluffs, open fields, barrens, and dry or rocky open places. They are almost always found near or on junipers in these habitats."  A perfect fit as our glade is covered with Eastern Red Cedar which is not actually a cedar but Juniperus virginiana.

The territorial males hang out on cedar branches looking for the ladies.  Eggs are laid on the tips of the  leaves where the larvae will later feed.  Check out the Callophrys-gryneus page and you will see pictures of the caterpillar which looks remarkably like the leaves it feeds upon.  The adults feed on a variety of nectar sources.  With only a one inch wingspan, it is no wonder that we have not identified them before.

Every species has its place in the choir, even rattlesnakes and cedars.

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