Striped Hairstreak (Satyrium liparops) (Le Conte, [1833])

Diagnosis: This is a relatively small (wingspan: 21 to 28 mm) hairstreak that superficially looks similar to other Satyrium species. Dark brown on the upperside, it is best distinguished by the widely offset white stripes on the underside, which is brown with a purplish tinge. It has an orange crescent above the blue spot.

Subspecies: Three have been recorded in Canada. Subspecies strigosum occurs in eastern Canada; subspecies fletcheri, with orange patches on the upperside, ranges from northern Ontario to Alberta (both have been recorded in the James Bay lowlands); and subspecies aliparops, which is dark above, like strigosum, but has the white lines beneath barely evident, is found in the southern Prairie Provinces.

Range: The Striped Hairstreak is found across most of southern Canada from Nova Scotia to eastern British Columbia. It is rare in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In Quebec, most records are from the St. Lawrence and Ottawa River Valleys, but it is also found locally in the Saguenay River Valley and in Abitibi County. In Ontario it ranges west to Lake of the Woods and from there across the southern Prairie Provinces to the Peace River district of Alberta and British Columbia.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: The Striped Hairstreak resembles the Banded Hairstreak (S. calanus), the Hickory Hairstreak (S. caryaevorum), and Edwards' Hairstreak (S. edwardsii), but they all lack the orange cap on the blue spot on the underside of the hindwing. [compare images]

Early Stages: The green larva has a yellowish stripe down the back and numerous yellow oblique lines. The foodplants are mostly trees and shrubs in the Rosaceae, including plum and cherry (Prunus spp.) and hawthorns (Crataegus spp.). They rarely feed on oak, willow, poplar, and blueberry.

Abundance: In most of its range, the Striped Hairstreak is not a particularly common butterfly. However, in some areas, such as the more northerly part of its range in Quebec (Leblanc, 1985) and parts of Manitoba (Klassen et al., 1989), it can be the most frequently encountered hairstreak. In most areas, it is sporadic in appearance from year to year.

Flight Season: The adults are on the wing between mid-June and mid-August throughout its range in Canada, but early July is the peak season.

Habits: This species is most often seen around thick shrubbery on the edge of wooded areas. It is enticed out to feed on a wide variety of flowering plants, sometimes in company with the more numerous Banded Hairstreak.

Remarks: Although fluctuating in numbers annually, this butterfly is never recorded in abundance like some other hairstreaks.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.