Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Return of the Juniper Hairstreaks

Last year in late May a friend photographed a Juniper Hairstreak roughly 1.5 km west of Tweed. We searched a nearby dry field that hosted scattered stands of Eastern Red Cedar and discovered a small colony of these elusive little butterflies.

It seems that Callophrys gryneus gryneus is still with us. This hairstreak is seldom encountered since south-central Hastings County is near the northern periphery of its range, and due to its relatively short flight season.

We sighted three butterflies and they looked freshly minted since they still had their little characteristic "tails" and strong colors. Presumably all of them were males because occasionally they would engage in what appeared to be territorial disputes that would go on for up to five minutes, one such contest involving all three butterflies.

I've often wondered ... what determines which individual wins these contests?