Gray Hairstreak

Strymon melinus

The Gray Hairstreak is one of the most widespread butterflies in the continental United States, but is uncommon in Wisconsin. In Butterflies of Illinois, Bouseman and Sternburg consider it rare and uncommon in northern Illinois, “where it may not survive the winter.” This certainly seems to be the case in Wisconsin, where the Gray Hairstreak seems to show up only occasionally, and may form a temporary colony if the push northward occurs early enough in the year.

Weekly sightings for Gray Hairstreak

Identifying characteristics

Below, the Gray Hairstreak has a very gray background color, two orange spots capped with black on the hindwing, and a postmedian line on the hindwing that is tri-colored, with red, black, and white bands from the inside to the outside of the wing. Although other Hairstreaks in Wisconsin rarely land with their wings open, the Gray Hairstreak is an exception and will often be seen with its wings spread.

Similar species

None in Wisconsin.

Habitat

Found in a large variety of open habitats, including open weedy fields.

Flight

This species has been found in late April and into October in Michigan. Individuals that enter Wisconsin early in the year may form a temporary colony and have a second brood. It is not likely that this generation can survive the Wisconsin winter.

Abundance

Uncommon, but could be found almost anywhere in the State.

Late Gray Hairstreak Sightings

Date County Reported by
Oct 12, 2010 Marquette Dan Sonnenberg
Oct 15, 2012 Marquette Dan Sonnenberg
Oct 16, 2010 Wood Ron Arnold
Oct 16, 2012 Columbia Lester Doyle
Oct 24, 2012 Marquette Dan Sonnenberg

Locations

Map showing sighting locations for Gray Hairstreak
Map key
Gray HairstreakClick to enlarge

West of Wazee Park, Jackson Co., WI. July 31, 2007.

Gray HairstreakClick to enlarge

Rotary Gardens, Janesville, WI. September 28, 2008.

Gray HairstreakClick to enlarge

Rotary Gardens, Janesville, WI. September 28, 2008.

Gray HairstreakClick to enlarge

Mecan Discovery Center, Marquette Co., WI. September 24, 2006.

Gray HairstreakClick to enlarge

Mecan Discovery Center, Marquette Co., WI. September 24, 2006.

Gray HairstreakClick to enlarge

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, Key West, FL. December 30, 2009.