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Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Description: This small butterfly is dark grey above with an orange spot in the posterior corner of the hindwing. The upperside is lighter grey with a thin black band with a white margin on one side. It has extensive orange marking on the hindwing, which extends over the blue spot in the posterior corner. This is our only hairstreak with a narrow black and white band on the undersides of the wings. Wingspan: 23 to 29 mm.

Maritime Distribution: Eastern and southern New Brunswick and the south shore of Nova Scotia. For Atlas results click here.

Provincial Ranks: NB: S2. NS: S1S2. PEI: -.

Flight Period: Late May to mid June, occasionally to late August.

Host Plant: In eastern Canada it is only known to feed on Sweet Fern (Comptonia peregrina). Elsewhere in its range it feeds on a variety of plants, and in the United States it can be a major pest of beans, cotton, and hops.

Notes: Gray Hairstreak is usually seen flying around Sweet Fern in dry White Pine (Pinus strobus) forests in the spring. Despite the abundance of suitable habitat in the Maritimes this remains a very rare species. It often flies along wood roads with elfins.

It is double brooded in much of its range but prior to the Atlas there was no evidence of a second generation in the Maritimes.