Answer to the Butterfly Quiz

By Joe Sebastiani, Members Program Team Leader

I know you all must be on the edge of your seats waiting for the answer to the recent butterfly quiz, so here it is.

29 people took the quiz, and the 21 of you that picked Gray Hairstreak are correct.  Let’s review the butterflies in the quiz.

This summer azure lacks a tails on the hindwing.  The similar looking Eastern Tailed Blue has an orange spot on the hindwing and tails.
This summer azure lacks a tails on the hindwing. The similar looking Eastern Tailed Blue has tails, and an orange spot on the hindwing.

Two of the choices were the Summer Azure and the Eastern Tailed Blue.  Pictured above is the Summer Azure.  Compared with the Gray Hairstreak below, it has dots instead of lines on the underside, plus it lacks tails.  The similar Eastern Tailed Blue (not pictured) looks like a Summer Azure with tails and a small orange spot on the outer portion of the hindwing.

This is the quiz butterfly, so if you guessed Gray Hairstreak, you are correct.  Note the tails, and an orange spot on the hindwing, combined with lines on the underside, not a row of spots.
The answer to the butterfly quiz is the Gray Hairstreak. Note the tails, and an orange spot on the hindwing, combined with lines on the underside, not a row of spots, as in the Summer Azure and Eastern Tailed Blue.

We’ve eliminated the Summer Azure and the Eastern Tailed Blue, but what about the White M Hairstreak?  As you look below, notice that the orange area is set a little more inward from the rear edge of the hindwing.  Also, there is a distinctive white spot inward from the white line.  If you look closely, you can see a white “M” or “W” inward from the orange spot.  Lots of other hairstreaks have a feature that is similar, so it usually isn’t a good identifying field mark, even though this butterfly is named after it. 

This White M Hairstreak has a white spot in the central part of the underside.  Also, the orange spot is set more inward from the rear edge of the hindwing than that of the Gray Hairstreak.
This White M Hairstreak has a white spot in the central part of the underside. Also, the orange spot is set more inward from the rear edge of the hindwing than that of the Gray Hairstreak.

The White M Hairstreak is rather uncommon in Delaware, whereas the other three butterflies in the quiz are very common.  This is a great time of year to observe butterflies nectaring on wildflowers in meadows.  Ashland Nature Center has a meadow across the covered bridge from the center where you can look for lots of butterflies, dragonflies, and many other intersting insects among the blooming wildflowers.  Photos by Joe Sebastiani.

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