These small winged beauties won't catch your eye from across the garden, but close up they are one of the prettiest butterflies I've ever seen. The first year we lived here, I saw one but I haven't found another in the seven years since...until two days ago when I caught a brief glimpse of one in the vegetable garden, on the other side of a large clump of brown-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia triloba. What butterfly am I talking about? The olive juniper hairstreak butterfly, Callophrys gryneus.
After I did a little research, I realized why it's so hard to find these cuties: they don't nectar at flowers very often and their larval food plant is juniper. Around here that means Eastern Redcedar, Juniperus virginiana. Juniper hairstreaks are rarely found far from one. In fact, one of the more reliable ways to see this butterfly is apparently to shake cedar trees and look for the males to fly.
Hmmm. I haven't shaken any redcedars lately. No wonder I haven't seen many juniper hairstreaks. Have you ever seen this little beauty in your yard?