hairstreak butterflies

Gray Hairstreaks often feed head downward. The red eyespots near the tails are a false "head" meant to deflect bird attacks. These tails might be false antennae, further meant to create the illusion of  a false head. 

Banded Hairstreak nectaring on milkweed flowers. These butterflies are much less common than Gray Hairstreaks, and they have a more limited flight period. I have only found Banded Hairstreaks in June and early July. 

Gray Hairstreak butterfly. This is our most common hairstreak species. I have seen Gray Hairstreaks as early as April, but they are much more common in late summer and fall. They can linger well into November, weather permitting.

The White M Hairstreak is named for the shape on its wings resembling a white "M" (or "W" if seen upside down). This is a rare butterfly in our area. I have seen White Ms on four occasions: twice at Cox Arboretum, once at Grant Park in Centerville, and once in Hocking Hills (eastern Ohio). The individual at left and below was photographed at Grant Park on September 9, 2017. 

This image is way too blurry to be a good photo, but I had to include it on this website anyway, just to illustrate how incredibly BLUE the wings are. White M Hairstreaks have dazzling blue wings ... but sadly, these butterflies almost never rest with their wings open. That brilliant flash of blue is only visible when they burst into flight. 

This White M Hairstreak was photographed at Cox Arboretum on April 13, 2017. You can just barely see a hint of blue color where he is rubbing his wings together. White M Hairstreaks have two or three broods in our area. I have found them in April, August, and September. 

Gray Hairstreak basking in the sun. These butterflies seldom rest with their wings open. It takes a bit of luck to photograph them like this. 

Banded Hairstreaks are very fond of milkweed flowers. (In fact, I think almost every time I have seen a Banded Hairstreak, it was nectaring on milkweed.)  

Red-banded Hairstreak, photographed at Caesar Creek on May 22, 2021. This is my only sighting to date of this species. Red-banded Hairstreaks are typically found further to our south, but they seem to be expanding their range north into our area.