Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Olive or juniper, take your pick

with 19 comments

Callophrys gryneus is known as an olive hairstreak or juniper hairstreak butterfly. I photographed this one at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on March 14th. The plant is baby blue-eyes (Nemophila phacelioides). Notice the spiral at the tip of the opening bud near the right edge of the picture. If you’d like a much closer look at the butterfly and the flower it’s on, click the excerpt below to zoom in.

UPDATE on the previous post, which dealt with the strange events involving Josiah Wilbarger: On the website of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission I confirmed the surprising identity of the person who did the illustrations for Indian Depredations, including the woodcut of Wilbarger getting scalped. The artist was “T.J. Owen, better known as the author William Sydney Porter (O. Henry).”

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 23, 2018 at 4:46 AM

19 Responses

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  1. The flower’s new to me: or at least I don’t remember it. The bud’s remarkably rose-like, and very pretty. There are butterflies galore in this area, but I’ve only seen them flying, or in spots that are inaccessible for close-ups. It’s interesting that I’ve not seen a single one on a bluebonnet. My suspicion is that bluebonnets are more accessible for bees and flies, but I have to explore that.


    March 23, 2018 at 6:34 AM

    • You are correct~butterflies can’t get in there for the nectar. They prefer open blooms like this one, or umbellifores. The Karner Blue does depend on Lupines for its host plant, however.


      March 23, 2018 at 8:00 AM

      • That makes sense about the “tightness” of lupine flowers presenting an obstacle for butterflies.

        Steve Schwartzman

        March 23, 2018 at 8:21 AM

        • Yes. It is great fun to watch bumblebees force their way in, and some bees don’t bother with the front door and just chew their way in the back. When that happens they get the nectar they want but don’t pick up any pollen to pass along.


          March 23, 2018 at 8:34 AM

          • I’ve read about that “backdoor” approach and how it thwarts the plants’ pollination scheme.

            Steve Schwartzman

            March 23, 2018 at 9:00 AM

            • Yeah. Hardly seems fair for the insects to do that.


              March 24, 2018 at 9:04 AM

              • I wonder if any plants have developed defenses against it. I’ve read that some kinds of trees are able to send chemical repellents to leaves that insects are attacking.

                Steve Schwartzman

                March 24, 2018 at 7:00 PM

                • I’ve read that too, and that they communicate to each other about threats. I think what the forbs do is start limiting the amount of nectar they offer in their flowers over time.


                  March 25, 2018 at 9:19 AM

    • You’ve made me realize that this is the first time I’ve ever featured baby blue-eyes in a main role; it appeared only one other time, when it played a subordinate role:


      When we went walking along Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin a couple of days ago we saw bunches of baby blue-eyes flowering in a partly shaded area, which is what this species prefers.

      As for the seeming scarcity of butterflies on bluebonnets, you may be onto something. I looked at every bluebonnet picture I’ve posted here, and not one has a butterfly on the flowers. I did, however, find some online photographs of butterflies on bluebonnets. Someone would have to do an empirical study to determine whether butterflies are less likely to seek out bluebonnets than various other wildflowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 23, 2018 at 8:17 AM

  2. Lovely Lepidoptera.

    Sherry Felix

    March 23, 2018 at 7:10 AM

  3. What a gorgeous shot! I looked in vain for these little butterflies, kicking endless junipers in hopes of flushing them up. At one time they were recorded in the Peoria area, but I never did find any.


    March 23, 2018 at 7:59 AM

    • I’m sorry you couldn’t find any of these in Illinois. The olive hairstreak was among the first butterflies I learned to recognize when I got interested in native plants in 1999. The species is common here, and its members seem inclined to stay put and not fly away when I get close with my camera. I’ve sometimes found bunches of them on the flower globes of antelope-horns milkweed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 23, 2018 at 8:27 AM

  4. The olive/juniper hairstreak is beautiful, Steve, as is the flower. Good catch!

    Interesting that O. Henry was the woodcut artist. As with most human conflicts throughout history, atrocities occurred on both sides.

    Lavinia Ross

    March 23, 2018 at 5:54 PM

    • Yes, people are people, for better and for worse.

      According to the relevant Wikipedia article, “Porter started as a draftsman at the Texas General Land Office (GLO) on January 12, 1887, at a salary of $100 a month, drawing maps from surveys and fieldnotes.” So apparently the guy could draw, even if that’s not what he eventually became famous for.

      The olive hairstreak is a common butterfly in Austin, one of many hairstreaks that frequent the area.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 23, 2018 at 9:05 PM

  5. whew; that link to the ‘Indian Depredations’ page provided a sobering read. the O.Henry illustrations were a surprise as well, and as lovely as they are, it must have been difficult to spend so much focused time on illustrating such misery. I can understand the prejudice, though I also wonder how much the Indians tolerated before it was time they said, ‘Enough!’

    i don’t think that our world will ever be in complete peace; i am grateful for those that i know who have kind and compassionate hearts. you and probably all of your readers fit into that group, gracias a-Dios.

    • After the update I found another website that said those illustrations are attributed to O. Henry, making me thing there may be some doubt. There’s no doubt “Porter started as a draftsman at the Texas General Land Office (GLO) on January 12, 1887, at a salary of $100 a month, drawing maps from surveys and fieldnotes.”

      I used to be surprised by the coincidence that O. Henry spent time in four of the places where I have, though in a different order: North Carolina, Texas, Honduras, and New York.

      For me there’s no doubt that the world will never be in complete peace. Steven Pinker makes the case in his last two books (one of them just out) that if you look at human history quantitatively, you find things have gotten better, especially in the last century:


      Steve Schwartzman

      March 25, 2018 at 4:00 PM

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