Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Olive = juniper

with 36 comments

On September 2nd, while walking on a streamside path along the upper reaches of Bull Creek, I stopped to photograph a butterfly that entomologists classify as Callophrys gryneus and that people call a juniper hairstreak or olive hairstreak. Although what I know about butterflies weighs less than one, it seems to me that the russet color on this individual was more saturated than average for the species.

If you’re wondering about the flowers, which I paid much less attention to than the hairstreak did because I needed to maintain my focus on the moving butterfly, they were Eupatorium serotinum, known as late boneset and late thoroughwort.

For a closer look at the butterfly, you can click on the excerpt below from a different frame to enlarge it.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 22, 2018 at 4:21 AM

36 Responses

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  1. I love this photo Steve, the butterfly and flowers complement eachother very nicely. The butterfly looks like it has a dusting of icing sugar on the edges of its wings. Beautiful!


    September 22, 2018 at 4:47 AM

    • I’m glad to hear the picture is a hit, Liz. Flowers of this type, sometimes referred to as mistflowers, are great attractors of insects, just as icing sugar on the edge of a cake is a great attractor of people.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 22, 2018 at 5:44 AM

  2. A very attractive specimen in attractive surroundings.


    September 22, 2018 at 5:09 AM

  3. outstanding photo, Steve!!!


    September 22, 2018 at 7:05 AM

    • I’m happy to hear it stands out for you, Ken. This is one species Texas and New York share.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 22, 2018 at 7:50 AM

  4. This is a lovely fresh specimen, right out of its chrysalis I’d say. In the second photo you can see it moving its hind wings up and down; this enhances the illusion that its tails are antennae and is classic hairstreak behavior.


    September 22, 2018 at 8:58 AM

    • When I got into local nature photography two decades ago, the olive hairstreak was one of the first butterflies I came to know, in part because members of this species seem more docile and less likely to fly away than many other kinds of butterflies. From watching these and some other hairstreaks, I became aware of the way they move their false antennae up and down so that if a predator approaches, it chomps at what it thinks is the head but is actually an expendable bit of the tail.

      I guess you’re right that this was a newly emerged butterfly. That would account for the saturation of the color.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 22, 2018 at 10:29 AM

      • Your lovely image brought back some very happy memories for me. Every now and then I’d come across a fresh butterfly, and get to see its beautiful colors all unmarred.


        September 24, 2018 at 10:45 AM

  5. Splendid photos Steve!


    September 22, 2018 at 11:48 AM

  6. Nice to see boneset in someone else’s photograph for a change. Actually, nice to see boneset at all. Our crop which has been providing flowers for insect since we moved in here 33 years ago went south this year…not a one. I hope they come back. That’s a handsome hairstreak. I’ve had them visit our milkweed flowers in the past but alas not this year.

    Steve Gingold

    September 22, 2018 at 6:03 PM

  7. Superb image, Steve. The colors are so inviting.

    Jane Lurie

    September 22, 2018 at 9:52 PM

  8. This is so lovely. A nice image to dream on. Goodnight!


    September 23, 2018 at 12:17 AM

  9. Excellent, Steve! Such a wonderful close up of the this beautiful creature.


    September 23, 2018 at 8:35 AM

    • There’s so much to be seen in nature, right in my part of town. This was one of the first species of butterflies I learned to recognize.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 23, 2018 at 8:52 AM

  10. Boneset! That’s what I saw on Saturday, and couldn’t remember the name. The frostweed’s blooming here, too, and the goldenrod finally is showing color.

    Yesterday was sunny, and I was roaming, but I only saw a fritillary; no hairstreaks for me. I can see why this one stopped you. That’s a beautiful color, and enough different from the ones I’ve seen that I might be able to identify this species if I saw it. I’ve only seen hairstreaks in various shades of gray, and never can identify them without sitting down with a photo and a book. Even that’s often not enough.

    I was interested in the note in the Tveten’s book that the lifespan of an olive hairstreak is about a week. This one certainly does appear pristine, but on the other hand, a week is hardly time to get tattered and torn: at least from my perspective. For the butterflies, a week may be more than enough time for potential predators to do their thing.


    September 24, 2018 at 9:05 AM

    • Happy goldenrod and frostweed flowers to you. Fall’s a-coming.

      The hairstreaks I most often see here are the less-colorful gray ones that you also mentioned. I didn’t remember the Tveten comment that olive adults live only about a week. I wonder if that’s typical for the other hairstreaks. In fact I just searched and found a site saying that the adult gray hairstreak lives 4 to 10 days. We who live 70 years find that so brief, but 70 years is also brief when compared to infinity.

      Because the olive hairstreak lives across Texas and because this post focused your attention on it, I imagine you’ll notice one before too long, either in your area over by the coast or on one of your regular visits into the center of the state. Good luck.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 24, 2018 at 10:09 AM

  11. Very dusky colour. I love the hints of green and pink.


    September 25, 2018 at 11:47 AM

  12. Wonderful such detail … 🙂


    September 27, 2018 at 3:02 PM

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