New Jersey Butterflies

Gray Hairstreak

Strymon melinus

Identification: Very small—size of thumbnail. Above: FW and HW unmarked dark gray-brown, except HW with large orange and black spot near tails. Top of head is orange, and male's abdomen is orange, female's is gray. This is the only species of hairstreak in NJ that one is likely to see perched with open wings. Below: FW and HW clean, light gray crossed by narrow black postmedian lines bordered with white and orange. Large, squarish orange spot on hindwing bordered by outward black spot and blue patch near tails.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Common from Monmouth and Burlington counties south. Uncommon northward and becoming sporadic in the far northern counties.

NJ Range Map-Gray Hairstreak

Habitat: Open, including disturbed, habitats. Attracted to garden flowers, especially mints and sedums.

Flight Period: Several broods resulting in an extended flight period from early April into November. Generally does not appear in northern counties until July. Extreme dates: North Jersey 4/1—11/2; South Jersey 3/23—11/19.

Larval Food Plants: A great variety of plants, but in our area shows a decided preference for peas and mallows.

Overwintering Stage: Egg, but probably does not overwinter in northern counties.

Best Locations: Higbee Beach WMA, Cape May Point SP, and Sandy Hook GNRA

Comments: Gray and Red-banded hairstreaks are the default hairstreaks in most of South Jersey, but in the northern counties are still rather special.



Gray Hairstreak

Scherman-Hoffman Sanctuary, Somerset Co., NJ, 9/4/06.


Gray Hairstreak

Cape May, Cape May Co.,NJ, 9/11/06, on stonecrop.