Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus [Cramer])
Wing span: 1 1/4 - 2 inches (3.2 - 5.1 cm).
Identification: Hindwing with one short and one long tail. Abdomen is blue on top, red-orange beneath. Upperside black with wide-spread iridescent blue. Underside black with iridescent gold markings near tails.
Life history: Males perch on treetops or other tall objects in the afternoon, watching for receptive females. Caterpillars eat leaves and male flowers of the host plant. Chrysalids hibernate in crevices at base of host tree or under loose bark.
Flight: Three flights from March-December.
Caterpillar hosts: Mistletoe (Phoradendron species) growing on several tree species.
Adult food: Nectar from flowers including goldenrod, Hercules club, shepherd's needle, sweet pepperbush, and wild plum.
Habitat: Oak woods, mesquite forests, planted walnuts in agricultural or suburban areas, and mixed woods infested with mistletoe.
Range: Guatemala north to central California, east through Texas and southern Missouri to Maryland.
Conservation: Not usually required.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management needs: None reported.
Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates. Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates. Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann
State and Regional References:
Glassberg, J. 1993. Butterflies Through Binoculars: A Field Guide to Butterflies in the Boston-New York-Washington Region. Oxford Univ. Press, New York, N.Y. 160 pp. Clark, A.H. and Clark, L.F. 1951. The Butterflies of Virginia. Smithsonian Miscellaneous collection No. 116:1-239. Layberry, R.A., Hall, P.W. & Lafontaine, D.J., 1998. The Butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON. 280 pp. Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. Woodbury, E.N. 1994. Butterflies of Delmarva. Delaware Nature Society, Inc., Tidewater Publishers, Centreville, MD. 138 pp. [NOTE: this book only treats True Butterflies (Papilionoidea). It does not treat Skippers (Hesperioidea).]