Gray Hairstreak

Gray Hairstreak Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh

It’s 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, comfortably nestled nearby, asleep. Now it’s morning and time to eat! So, like most Pittsburghers, the butterfly’s shopping is done nearby, in the neighborhood.

This isn’t just any butterfly haven. The Outdoor Gardens at Phipps are closely managed. Each year they 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. The butterfly pictured here is actively feeding for the carbs, proteins and other nutrients available in the nectar, at the base of the flower.

When the butterfly backs out of the flower, 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 when she famously said, “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime.”

In the northeastern Unite States, Gray hairstreaks fly from late April through September, if not longer. 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!



3 thoughts on “Gray Hairstreak

  1. I didn’t realize you related my blog to your article but a big THANK YOU! I feel extremely lucky to have caught this little gem when I did. Great information, and I lived 17 years in Pittsburgh but never visited Phipps. What a blunder.


  2. This is one of my favorite very small butterflies. I photograph it often during the summer. It has been so cool here this spring that I have not seen one yet. My lantanas are growing and almost budding, but only two or three are blooming yet. Cant wait to see all the butterflies again.


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