An Ongoing Mystery: Why are Most Gray Hairstreak Butterflies so Perfect?

Gray Hairstreak photographed by Jeff Zablow at Fort Federica, Saint Simons Island, GA

An ongoing mystery for me: Why are most of the Gray Hairstreak Butterflies so perfect? Few I find are bird-struck. Few show any wing damage caused by predators. Why? Often I wonder if these Grays produce substances that are either toxic or distasteful. I’ve not resolved this question, not yet. You?

Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America offers that Gray Hairstreaks “will use a large number of species in many plant families” as their hostplants. Our new 800 Garden’s now has black cherry trees, Chokecherry, Ironwood, Yellowwood, Rusty Blackhaw, Blackhaw, Black Gum, Tulip Poplar, Linden, Hop Tree, Hackberry trees, Hercules Club, Bronze Fennel, Hickories, Dogwoods and more so much more. I do hope that among these all, we have hostplants for Grays.

They so remind me of the several times in my life when we’ve been invited and asked to come in tuxedo. They look like they are just like I was, in a ‘monkey suit,’ trying to look elegant, though feeling a bit . . . foolish.

Grays usually don’t flee when your approach is reasonably cautious, again reminding of how some enjoy having their pictures taken when in tuxes, as though at they moment they felt . . . important.

Gray Hairstreaks make we wonder, make me think, and make me remember back when tuxedos were de rigeur.

Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, 8 plus hours west of the MOMA Museum in New York, New York.


Breath-taking Red-spotted Purple Butterfly with Orange-red Markings Near its Forewing Apex

Red-spotted purple Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Eastern Neck National Wildlife refuge, MD

What say you? Is she not breath-taking? It’s mid-morning in August, at the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Two hours from Washington, DC and eye-pleasing no matter in which direction we turn.

The butterfly’s orange-red markings near the forewing apex signal that she’s a looker. The camera lens registers her beauty and provides her the same extra something that it does for top models.

Limenitis arthemis astyanax in Pennsylvania spend most of their time on the ground, nectaring sparingly. Those here on the Delmarva Peninsula behave differently each morning, flying early in the morning and spending a great deal of time working the perrenial flower beds of the Butterfly Garden.  Interesting.

Again, the absence of significant wing damage in these National Wildlife Refuge butterflies was difficult to dismiss. Why were they so free of evidence of having barely escaped predators?

The mornng was a pleasant temperature. There was no wind. The sky was blue. The raptors occassionally flew overhead, Dave was working the Butterfly Garden and the butterflies were for want of a better word? Beauties.