|scientific name Strymon melinus |
common name Grey Hairstreak
In Alberta, primarily a grassland species found in badlands and along coulees and ridge tops.
Likely two broods annually, peaking in mid May and mid July.
The Grey Hairstreak has an ash-grey undersurface with a prominent white-bordered, black median line, and two orange patches in the outer angle of the hindwing. Grey hairstreaks have a patch of orange hair between the top of the eyes, which is unique among Alberta hairstreaks. The subspecies affiliation of Alberta populations remains uncertain (Bird et al. 1995), although they have sometimes been reffered to ssp. franki (Layberry et al. 1998, Guppy & Shepard 2001).
The larval colour pattern is variable, ranging from green with white to purple oblique bands (Layberry et al. 1998). Adults are rapid flyers, and perch head-down on vegetation (Bird et al. 1995). Unlike other hairstreaks, melinus overwinters as a pupa and emerges in the spring (Guppy & Shepard 2001).
Rare and local in Alberta, primarily restricted to grasslands.
Larvae feed on a huge variety of plants and have been recorded from over 20 plant families (Layberry et al. 1998). Despite this, larvae appear to be specialized feeders in that they consume primarily flowers and developing seeds (Guppy & Shepard 2001). A number of legume hosts have been recorded in BC, including native clovers (Trifolium spp.) and cultivated green beans (Guppy & Shepard 2001). Larvae are occasionally crop pests on beans, cotton and hops in the US (Layberry et al. 1998).
This is one of the most widespread of the hairstreaks, occurring from southern Canada south through the entire US to Central and South America (Opler 1999).
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