Which end?

Out of all of the butterflies that are zipping around my garden right now, there is one that is a bit more relaxed but you will probably miss anyway.



The gray hairstreak in my experience will spend a long time on the flower it chooses, rather than frantically flying from plant to plant. This makes it wonderful to observe and photograph, as I can just sit and watch it for five or ten minutes or more if I want to. And often I do.

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This small gray butterfly is quite common, but it has one of the most endearing habits: it rubs its little tail "whiskers" together while perched!

Bird thinks: "which end should I eat?"

It seems to be just moving its hindwings up and down a bit, rubbing them together. This causes the curved "whiskers" to wiggle and flex in enticing ways. Surely this is a defense strategy, to attract predators to the tail where they can do little harm. It's made even more effective by the "eye spots" near these whiskers.


I know if I were a small, defenseless butterfly I'd rather have my hindwings nipped than my head pecked!


Not only is this female feeding from the onion blooms, but she appears to be laying eggs too:


Reading up on this species, they do lay eggs on the blooms of flowers. (To be honest I didn't even notice this was happening until I reviewed the images later. What a lucky shot!)

Then since this little beauty was being so calm, I decided to see if she would perch upon my finger.


Yes! I even got her to open her wings up a bit:


It's rare for a hairstreak to bask with its wings open, but this species does it more than the other members of this genus -- from what I've read. I've never noticed the little orange "cap" they wear before -- cute!


This was a much more relaxing butterfly break than the other day, trying to chase those flitters around the yard!

Thanks little gray hairstreak!


(Interesting note: the blooming onions that this butterfly is visiting today? They're the green onions I purchased at the grocery store way back in December 2010! I'm not sure what I did to keep them around so long, but they're still going!)

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Linda/patchwork  – (May 11, 2012 at 11:00 AM)  

These are great shots. I'll have to keep an eye out for this kind of butterfly. Butterflies are so hard for me to get a shot of.
And, those onions are interesting. That's a long time to stick around.

Lancashire rose  – (May 11, 2012 at 11:35 AM)  

Yes we have them too but have never managed to observe that closely. I will watch out for that little face.

Christine @ The Gardening Blog  – (May 12, 2012 at 8:32 AM)  

What lovely little butterflies. The third photo is fantastic - you should enter it into a photo/gardening competition. Love the little cap :)

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