Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Elfin Sex

Henry's Elfins that is:

It's not a great picture, but it's the best I managed to get.  That's a pair of Henry's Elfins, a tiny gossamer winged butterfly coupling in the Hemlock tree in our backyard.
Wing Span: 1 - 1 1/4 inches (2.5 - 3.2 cm).

Life History: Males perch on host plants during warm daylight hours. Location of egg deposition on plants varies with the plant species: on American holly an egg is laid on the center of an old host leaf just before bud break, while on redbud eggs are laid on flowers and buds. Caterpillars eat buds and young leaves, and pupate in litter at the base of the host plant. Chrysalids overwinter.

Flight: One flight from February-May.

Caterpillar Hosts: Diverse plants texana) in Texas; dahoon (Ilex cassine), American holly (I. opaca), and yaupon (I. vomitoria) in Florida and North Carolina. Redbud (Ceris canadensis), huckleberries and blueberries (Vaccinium species), Mexican buckeye (Ungnadia speciosa), and Viburnum species are selected in other locations.

Adult Food: Where redbud is the caterpillar host, its flowers are the main nectar supply for adults. In other places, flowers of plants that are not the caterpillar host are used for nectar including willows, wild plum and hawthorn, and Forstiera.

Habitat: Edges and openings in barrens and near pine or pine-oak woodland.
I first spotted these last year, in the same place.  These are acting as described by the life history, perching out on limbs of the Hemlocks when it's warm out.  They even seem to get a little disturbed (or turned on, maybe) when the similar sized Spring Azures flit by.

Daisy Mai-ling got a decent photo...

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