01 March 2011

Great Purple Hairstreak

I found this lovely Great Purple Hairstreak, Atlides halesus, resting in the middle of the street. I imagine she emerged a bit early and it just wasn't quite warm enough for her. I say "she" because her abdomen looked plump with eggs. She was docile enough that I could carry her home with me and place her on this white background.

If you have mistletoe in your area, you probably have these beautiful butterflies. It's their sole larval food source.

The upper sides of the butterfly's wings flash bright blue-purple in the sun. And they wave those little squiggly things on the back of their wings together so that it looks like a head with antennae. It's pretty convincing, even for the human eye. If a bird were to chomp at the hind wings, the butterfly loses very little but gains an opportunity to fly away free.


Caroline said...

Mistletoe! Does it grow in Central Texas? I had no idea!

Lee said...

All over the place around me in East Austin, but maybe not the Edward's Plateau? Not sure there.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

What a beauty! I had no idea that there was mistletoe in Texas!