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Posts Tagged ‘sedum’

Yesterday, a new visitor arrived on the rooftop garden.  Naturally, I wanted to know the name of this tiny guest who seemed to love my sedum.  After searching page by page through my Smithsonian Handbooks:  Butterflies and Moths unsuccessfully, I spent hours this morning combing the web.  I think my new friend is from the family Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged); subfamily Theclinae (Hairstreaks); tribe Eumaeini; and genus Electrostrymon.  However, for the life of me, I can’t figure out which species — while the markings match, the colors don’t.  Any lepidopterists out there who can help?

Pale green & orange butterfly

As for what he (I’m pretty certain it is male) was doing on the sedum — he was rubbing his wings together.  For this, I did find an answer.  According to the Learn About Butterflies website:

Hairstreaks usually have a pattern of lines or stripes on the underside wings. These, in combination with ocelli ( false eye markings ) and short tails ( false antennae ) act to divert attention away from the head, and towards the outer edge of the hindwings. By oscillating the wings, the tails are made to wiggle like antennae, further increasing the illusion that the butterfly is ‘back to front’. Attacking birds will always aim at the head of a butterfly, but are tricked into aiming at the tail. The butterfly is thus able to escape in the opposite direction unharmed. Another reason for wing-rubbing is that male Hairstreaks have patches of specialised wing scales – ‘androconia’, located on their upperside forewings. Sacs at the base of these scales contain pheromones. Rubbing the wings together helps to disseminate the pheromones, which attract females and induce them to mate.

Maybe there will be some springtime courting on the terrace….

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