July 29th in the Outdoor Gardens of our world famous Phipps Conservatory. In the middle of Pittsburgh, within view of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, our Strymon melinus has spent the night before, comfortably nestled nearby, asleep. Now it’s morning and …time to eat! So, like most Pittsburghers, shopping is done nearby, in the neighborhood.
This isn’t just any butterfly haven. The Outdoor Gardens here at the Phipps are closely managed, and each year offer abundant, healthy perrenials and annuals for the enjoyment of their visitors as well as for the nourishment of the fauna who flourish there. This female is doing just that. Actively feeding for the carbs, proteins and other nutrients available in the nectar, at the base of the flower.
When she backs out of it, the morning sun will spotlight her lipstick red patch at the margin of her hindwing. She uses the same visual pheromones as Mae West once did, “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime.”
In northeastern U.S. Gray hairstreaks fly from late April through September, at least. Grays, and other hairsteaks, fly short distances, close to the ground, and usually are solitary. As noted in our earlier posts, spotting one is a TreaT!