Monday, May 2, 2011

Olive Hairstreak

It’s taken me years to get a decent photo of an Olive Hairstreak butterfly. I see them every year, but they always seem to be perched on the end of a branch that is bouncing around in the wind. To find one perched on the ground was a great stroke of luck. Even so, it changed locations twice before I could get within camera range and each time meant a methodical search before discovering its new position.

Eastern Red Cedar is the host plant for the Olive Hairstreak butterfly. There seems to be a difference of opinion as to whether or not the Olive Hairstreak prefers to use a certain sized cedar upon which to deposit its eggs. This is one of the reasons I have left stands of small to medium cedars around Blue Jay Barrens. If tree size is a factor, I’d hate to eliminate just what these beautiful butterflies need.

This individual was busy getting moisture from a gravel bar near the creek. The gravel was left behind by the flood of two weeks ago. Most likely there’re also some dissolved minerals in the water it’s drinking. Even though all of the gravel was wet, the butterfly probed around several gravel pieces before settling down to drink. That makes me think there’s something special about this particular gravel bit.

It’s unusual to have a hairstreak butterfly open its wings to show the upper surfaces. Fortunately, the spectacular patterns and flashy colors are displayed on the lower surface where they are easy to see. The hairstreaks habit of raising and lowering the hind wing in a scissor-like motion, allows you to catch a glimpse of the upper surface coloration. In this case those colors are primarily browns and oranges.

The dime sized Olive Hairstreak may appear bright and colorful up close, but it becomes very hard to see at a distance. It was hard enough to spot it as it perched on the gravel. It becomes almost invisible when it’s on a cedar tree where every color the butterfly has matches exactly a color you would find on the cedar. My next task will be to get photos of the larvae. Don’t be expecting those any time soon.


  1. Thanks to a post of yours on Ohio Fauna, I was able to identify an odd plant I found on a walk in my woods....Squawroot, Conopholis americana. Am a new follower.

  2. That should be FLORA, not fauna!!! :)

  3. Hi Steve...Wow he is a real pretty one.
    Great color combination...may need that the next time I do some painting aroun the house. lol
    Good for you..and its a good exercise in balance I have found...following a butterfly to get a photo!!

  4. What nice distinct markings. So hard to sneak up on them.

  5. Those are outstanding shots Steve, congrats on the luck (or skill of patience)I can fully appreciate the labor involved, can't tell you how many hours total I spent in fruitless hot persuit of butterflys only to whatch helplessly as they flew were I could not go!

  6. Welcome, Wanda. Squawroot is a strange one. I'm glad I was able to help with the identification.

    Hi, grammie g. I'm sure your house would draw visitors if you chose that color combination. Especially if you used it on the outside.

    Hi, Nellie. It certainly takes a stealthy approach to get within camera range.

    Hi, Michael. I've logged my share of time in butterfly chases. The most frustrating end is when they take that rapid spiral up into the tree tops.