Tag Archives: Grey Hairstreak

Raising Butterflies: Grey Hairstreak Hatching

Let’s play: is that a random spec of dirt, or the precious caterpillar you collected?

Well, it twitched. I guess it’s a caterpillar.

It’s been three days since I collected the grey hairstreak eggs, and they both hatched. The folks at BAMONA say that grey hairstreak caterpillars eat the flowers, not the leaves. I put both flowers and leaves in with the hatchlings. I’m hoping they don’t wander away from their food. The containers are big enough they could walk off and starve. It also says the caterpillar can be cannibalistic – caterpillar cannibalism doesn’t seem to be a conscious thing so much as they won’t stop eating a leaf just because there’s another caterpillar on it. Either way, the two caterpillars are in separate containers.

At this stage, they’re smaller than ants, so I have to use a fine paintbrush if I want to move them. Speaking of ants, in the wild, hairstreak caterpillars are attended by ants. The ants tend to them, and in exchange the hairstreak produces a nectary substance for them. No ants here, unless you count in the kitchen.

Raising Butterflies: Grey Hairstreak Eggs

I paused to take a photo of a Grey Hairstreak when it fluttered in. They’re not terribly rare, but they’re erratic fliers and hard to get a picture of. I call them “seizure butterflies”, because when they’re flying they look like they’re having a seizure.

She didn’t look terribly good. She wasn’t battered, like a lot of older butterflies, but she was very sluggish – especially compared to how skittish these butterflies normally are. She’d slowly crawl from one flower to another, occasionally sipping at one. Imagine my surprise when I spotted her curling her abdomen as if to oviposit. She wound up drunkenly dragging her abdomen across leaves before giving up, more often than not. But she did manage to lay two eggs that I could spot.

Here’s one, tucked away in the tender new leaves.

Here’s the other, a tiny speck of green in a flower cup.

A male skipper chased her off soon afterward, so no more eggs. Still, hoping to rear the two I have.

Here is the plant she was laying on. I have no idea what it is. Grey Hairstreak caterpillars will apparently host on all sorts of different plants. I placed them in a plastic cup with a paper towel over the top, held on with a rubber band. We’ll see how long it takes them to hatch.