White-M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album) (Boisduval & Le Conte, 1833)

Diagnosis: This is a large hairstreak (wingspan: 27 to 34 mm) that is unique in Canada because of its bright metallic blue upperside and long tails. The dark grey underside has a distinct white postmedian line with a black border, forming an "M" above the tails.

Range: Mainly a tropical and southeastern U.S. species, it breeds north to Pennsylvania and Ohio, but in some years strays even farther north to Michigan and southwestern Ontario. The only Canadian records are from southwestern Ontario, mostly from Essex County (Point Pelee, Pelee Island and Essex), with one recent record from the Leslie Street Spit, Toronto.

Similar Species: None in Canada.

Early Stages: The larva is yellow green and covered in downy hair. There are darker green stripes and oblique bars. In the northern part of its range, the foodplants are mostly oaks (Quercus spp.).

Abundance: This is an extremely rare stray in Canada.

Habits: The White-M Hairstreak is a fast erratic flyer, most often found in clearings and edges of oakwoods.

Remarks: There is no evidence that this is a breeding species in Canada. The few specimens taken in Ontario were battered and had probably covered some distance before they were captured.

© 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.