Banded Hairstreak Butterfly

Banded Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Raccoon Creek State Park

Funny how things are. A really good field guide cites Satyrium Calanus as the most common and widespread of hairstreak species. In this particular field guide, the accompanying map key shows that western Pennsylvania is squarely in this butterfly’s primary range (Cech and Tudor, Butterflies of the East Coast, Princeton University Press). Still, I’ve only seen and photographed 3 of them in the last 13 years. We can consider that Satyrium Calanus much prefer to be well off the ground in oaks, walnut and hickory trees.  This behavior explains in part why we’ve rarely seen them.

It’s reported that they do eat nectar, especially from asclepias (milkweeds) and dogbane. We’ve not seen that. I did find this beautiful specimen on a June 23 morning in Raccoon Creek State Park in Southwestern Pennsylvania, luxuriating in the morning sun, thankfully not too high over the trail. This is another butterfly that prefers the forest’s edge.

With its 2 pairs of hindwing tails, and one pair much shorter than the other, this butterfly is certainly not a Hickory hairstreak (Satyrium Caryaevorum). 

It helps if you’re an esthete. The outer forewings and hindwings deliver this yummy palette of rich, brownish, tanned leather, rich sky blue and reddish-orange splash. I love that concentration of strong, warm color. But that’s me. This is probably a male. They venture out more readily and probably bask more often. Females, are perhaps camera shy?

This is our second Banded hairstreak photograph. It’s not a bad one, having seen so few of them.



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