Florida Butterflies~Hairstreak Butterflies

13 Feb

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix

 

 

The Gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus) is one of the most common lycaenids in North America. Its larvae feed on the fruits and flowers of a variety of host plants including several species. Gray hairstreaks do not prefer one specific habitat. They are widespread in tropical forests and open, temperate woodland areas. They can also be found in meadows, crop fields, neglected roadsides, and residential parks and yards are often homes of this fascinating and rare butterfly. Its larvae feed on the fruits and flowers of a variety of host plants including several species mallows, members of the pea family, buckwheats, clovers, and many other plants.
In Florida, the most common hairstreaks are the “Gray Hairstreak”
The adults are quick fliers and are seen most often between the months of May and September. The larvae of gray hairstreaks, when abundant, can become pests to commercial crops, including cotton, beans, corn, and hops.
 
Habits such as these have earned the caterpillar the common name of “cotton square borer” and “bean lycaenid”. However, I love spotting Hairstreaks in the garden.
The are small and fly fast, but once you focus your eyes on them you’ll see their delightful display of confusing preditors, by rubbing their hind wings together in the typical fashion of most hairstreaks.
This back-and-forth movement makes the tail like extensions on the hindwings look like anntennae, apparently to fool predators into attacking a less vital part of their body. They like to bask in the sun with their head down and hindwings up with it’s false antenae in motion. Below are two videos showing the motion of the wings.
Another very different looking hairstreak is the “Atala” butterfly (Coontie Hairstreak)   Scientific name: Satyrium pruni
Some hairstreaks don’t have tails like the gray hairstreak butterfly. The Atala butterfly is also called the Coontie butterfly because the Coontie plant is it’s host plant.
Sunshine State gardeners have rediscovered the Florida coontie as a native plant well adapted to Florida yards. Its increased use in landscapes has encouraged the presence of the rare atala butterfly. This is such a beautiful and unusual looking butterfly. Even the caterpillars are unusual looking. To me they look like pretty gummy candy.
There are many many different hairstreak butterflies in Florida, some common, some rare and many endangered.
Next week we will look at a few more butterflies and a few more ways to photograph them , then off to another adventure. I’m not sure what yet, but it will be a surprise to even me.

 

 

 

I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.
Melody

4 Responses to “Florida Butterflies~Hairstreak Butterflies”

  1. Onisha Ellis February 13, 2018 at 10:07 pm #

    Beautiful pictures and your love of butterflies shines in your words.

    Like

  2. fuonlyknew February 13, 2018 at 6:01 pm #

    So lovely. I sometimes think butterflies must be alien. They look so enchanting and fragile, yet are surprisingly strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. divoran09 February 13, 2018 at 3:43 pm #

    Your pictures are spectacular as is your text.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Louise Gibson February 13, 2018 at 11:59 am #

    tHANKS, mELODY, yOUR POSTS ARE ALWAYS SO INFORMATIVELY INTERESTING.

    Liked by 1 person

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