Gray Hairstreak (Mission)

Gray hairstreak butterflys photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TX

What did I learn here? A thousand miles of travel, to the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, and I was rippin’ to meet new butterflies. Did I? If you are a friend of wingedbeauty.com, you know we did! So many new ones that I’ve shared here, and just about an equal number of butterflies that refused to stick around, leaving me without images of them.

So this instant riveted me. Those orange spots were as vividly red and the black spots within them were starkly black. The head had a smart orange cap, as did the tips of the antennae. I did have this recurring thought that she looked an awful lot like a Gray hairstreak.

When my slides were returned from Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas my intuition was confirmed, she was a Gray Hairstreak butterfly, flying in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas.

How can it be that I travel so far from home, and see the same beautiful Gray female that I might see back home? Answer: Grays are found in all, all of the 48 mainland states of the United States. Kudos to the Gray.

Jeff

Diversity in Red-Spotted Purple Butteflies

Red-Spotted Purple butterflies photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek Park, PA, 7/15/07 and 8/24/07

We encounter many people during the course of a day, usually noting the unique features of each one of them. Some of us are better at that than others. Many of us, as is true of many police officers, are especially skilled at noting specific features of people they interact with.

Do we demonstrate that same skill when we see butterflies? My experience in the field, and  when I deliver a Powerpoint presentation, is that few people notice differences among butterflies of the same species. Here we view 2 Red-spotted purple butterflies, both seen at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. This species is well-known for having much variation from one butterfly to the next.

  1. Which has suffered the greatest loss of wing scales?
  2. Which has a pair of white marks at the very top of the head?
  3. Distinct white marking at the front ends of each forewing?
  4. Wider and more starkly black streaks along the outer margins of the hindwings?
  5. A single red streak near the front-middle edge of each forewing?
  6. White spots on the dorsal surface of its abdomen?
  7. Darker forewings?
  8. More sharply defined blue areas in the hindwings?

Jeff