Saturday, August 16, 2014

An Uncommon Little Beauty: Olive Juniper Hairstreak Butterfly

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.

This one didn't stay around for very long, but luckily I had my camera with me and I was able to grab a couple quick photos before it disappeared.

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?


Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Lovely little butterfly.

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Those are very pretty. Not sure if I've seen one or not. We have some small white butterflies loving our flowers right now. Same size. I haven't gotten a good photo to really check out what they are. We do have junipers. I will watch more closely.