Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Gray hairstreak on flowering elbowbush

with 40 comments

Gray Hairstreak Butterfly on Elbowbush Flower 6854

As you heard recently, one of the earliest native plants to bloom in central Texas each year is the elbowbush, Forestiera pubescens. A few days ago you saw a crab spider on one at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on February 3, 2013, and now from that same outing here’s a different visitor to an elbowbush, a gray hairstreak butterfly, Strymon melinus.


I’m away from home. You’re welcome to leave comments, but please understand if I’m slow in responding.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 8, 2015 at 5:35 AM

40 Responses

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  1. So who was the patient one … you or the butterfly or both? Beautiful, and tack sharp – just like I like ’em.

    Pairodox Farm

    February 8, 2015 at 9:37 AM

    • Yes, hairstreaks are hard to photograph…fast little guys! And skittish.


      February 8, 2015 at 10:49 AM

      • They can be skittish, but I remember that when I started doing closeups of nature in Austin, the olive hairstreaks were pretty cooperative.

        Steve Schwartzman

        February 8, 2015 at 11:21 AM

      • Hi there Melissa … thanks for following up on this comment. I stopped by Melissabluefineart’s and was intrigued by its subheading, ‘Fine Art of Ecological Restoration’. I looked around for an ‘About’ entry that I thought might explain … but couldn’t find one. Anyway, I am left wondering about the nature of your artistic focus.

        Pairodox Farm

        February 8, 2015 at 12:13 PM

        • Oh! I didn’t realize there wasn’t anything there. Thank you for pointing that out. I’ve enjoyed visiting your blog but haven’t had time to comment before. I enjoy the intelligence of your writing.


          February 9, 2015 at 10:41 PM

    • I’ll confess that I don’t remember the circumstances of taking this picture two years ago. Just as long as you approve of the results, we’re fine.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 8, 2015 at 11:13 AM

  2. Wow, just look at that gorgeous, fresh hairstreak! You can see the iridescence on his wings. Marvelous shot, Steve.


    February 8, 2015 at 10:48 AM

  3. Fabulous! I love hairstreaks 🙂

  4. I’ve seen hairstreaks here in Omaha in summer, too. Upon close observation, a few times, the delicate little wing appendages appeared to be moving independently. Have you seen this phenomenon too? It might have been the result of a slight breeze, but I was pretty sure…


    February 8, 2015 at 7:08 PM

  5. That’s beautiful. Its colors are kind of enchanting to me. That soft grey has such a subtle beauty it makes it more special. Nice share. 🙂


    February 8, 2015 at 10:35 PM

    • Most people probably don’t think of gray as an appealing color (although it’s the most common one for cars, at least in the United States), so I’m glad you find it special in this case.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 9, 2015 at 3:37 AM

      • Apparently gray with bright pops of colour is on trend for the cold season 2014-2015 though exactly where I read that I don’t know. This is a very fashion conscious butterfly. Maybe even a social butterfly.


        February 9, 2015 at 4:20 AM

        • I admire the way you parlayed an awareness of fashion into a social butterfly: well done.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 10, 2015 at 2:56 AM

          • 🙂 I must admit I was pleased with my brain for thinking up that one! Even more pleased to see a yellow admiral ( I think) butterfly in the garden for the first time. The binomial name for the yellow admiral is vanessa itea. Vanessa was a name invented by Jonathan Swift for his ‘friend’ Esther Vanhomrigh. Quite why it became associated with a butterfly I do not know.


            February 10, 2015 at 4:05 AM

            • Let’s hear it for your brain!

              I didn’t know there’s a yellow admiral. The only one I’ve been aware of is the red. And speaking of butterflies, I saw a transplanted (transinsected?) monarch in Auckland yesterday. I’d read that people have brought them here, but I didn’t expect to see one.

              Linnaeus often named things after people he knew, so perhaps whoever named the genus Vanessa was paying his respects to a woman of that name. My guess is that that’s look-up-able.

              Steve Schwartzman

              February 11, 2015 at 2:43 AM

              • I had a monarch fluttering about the garden yesterday. Apart from the annoying white butterfly, the monarch would be the one I see the most. Apparently we have only 17 different types of butterfly in NZ. So few. 😦


                February 11, 2015 at 3:27 AM

                • Sad face indeed. I imagine the paucity of butterflies in NZ is a consequence of its longstanding geographic isolation. By contrast, we have dozens of butterfly species in Austin alone.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  February 11, 2015 at 4:06 AM

      • I think more and more people are coming to appreciate grey. It makes for a fabulous choice in interior design. I love grey hues with white trim. But you’re right, it’s more often under-appreciated.


        February 9, 2015 at 1:54 PM

  6. The antennae are very attractive on this species. The butterflies that are slow enough for me to observe closely tend to have a plain dark pair. A lovely sharp image, Steve, of a difficult to photograph butterfly.


    February 9, 2015 at 12:48 AM

    • That’s a good point you make, Jane, about the patterned antennae on this hairstreak adding something extra. I’ve noticed the same patterning on the antennae of other butterflies, but I can’t remember what kinds of butterflies they were.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 9, 2015 at 3:44 AM

  7. I’ve yet to photograph a hairstreak of any species, so I am admiring this fine shot, Steve.

    Steve Gingold

    February 9, 2015 at 4:18 AM

    • We have many kinds of hairstreaks in Austin, so I’ve had lots of chances to take pictures over the years. Of course there are always plenty of misses when butterflies are the subjects. Let’s hope a cooperative hairstreak comes your way soon, Steve.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 10, 2015 at 2:52 AM

  8. What a lovely creature this butterfly is, with its flashings of black, orange and blue highlights. I especially like the black and white striped antenna with orange tips. Insects are so interesting to study and photograph, and they are very beautiful in their own individual ways..

    Mary Mageau

    February 9, 2015 at 4:43 AM

    • And what a good news flash you’ve created about those flashings, Mary. Did you notice that there are alternating color band not only on the butterfly’s antennae but also on the lower portions of its legs?

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 10, 2015 at 3:13 AM

  9. Aha! I had missed those legs. What a fashion beauty, dressed in a perfectly co-ordinated outfit.

    Mary Mageau

    February 10, 2015 at 7:30 PM

    • I don’t think I’d noticed them either until I was answering your comment, so I’m glad you said what you did.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 11, 2015 at 3:00 AM

  10. Reblogged this on lepapillondeslivrescerclerenevigo and commented:
    Irrésistible !


    March 7, 2015 at 12:51 PM

  11. Very nice butterfly. 🙂


    March 8, 2015 at 10:27 AM

  12. butifull


    February 6, 2017 at 1:52 AM

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