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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Gray Hairstreak: 15 Facts You Won't Believe!

Gray hairstreak facts truly make for a great insightful read for people of all ages

Do you find butterflies interesting? If so, you will love reading about gray hairstreak butterflies. The gray hairstreak is found in the region of Central, South, and North America. It is spotted both in tropical as well as temperate regions. There are plenty of gray hairstreak butterfly facts to learn that are absolutely fascinating.

These butterflies belong to the gossamer-winged butterfly group. This is another name for all the butterflies that come under the Lycaenidae family, which consists of around 6000 different types of butterflies.

The gray hairstreak is one of a kind butterfly. It distinguishes itself from others with the help of its stunning gray-colored wings and orange-black eyespots. These insects feed on various plants that are available in their habitat. Even though they look alike, females of this species might have bigger bodies than males. Get to know more interesting facts about the gray hairstreak butterfly by reading the fact file below.

For more relatable content, check out these morpho butterfly facts and purple emperor butterfly facts for kids.

Gray Hairstreak Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a gray hairstreak?

The gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, is a butterfly that belongs to the Lycaenidae family of animals.

What class of animal does a gray hairstreak belong to?

These butterflies are considered to be part of the Insecta class of animals.

How many gray hairstreaks are there in the world?

Even though these hairstreaks have been marked as secured, their exact population range and number are currently unknown.

Where does a gray hairstreak live?

The gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, has a vast range and is mainly seen in North America. This species from the gossamer-winged butterfly group is also seen in the northern region of South America and southern parts of Canada.

What is a gray hairstreak's habitat?

These butterflies are mainly seen flying across northern American forests and crop fields. They are also commonly spotted in mountains, meadows, and even in rainforests. This gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, prefers a terrestrial habitat and is, thus, easily spotted on the open ground of tropical and temperate zones. Even though this species likes to live in a secluded region, they might be spotted in gardens, parks, and urban settings during summer too.

Who does a gray hairstreak live with?

The gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, is solitary and enjoys foraging alone in sunny areas. Pairs only interact during the mating season and they live on their own for the rest of their lives.

How long does a gray hairstreak live?

The gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, has a lifespan of just three to four weeks.

How do they reproduce?

This butterfly is oviparous in nature and its mating season usually occurs during early spring. Males are known to perch on plants and small shrub areas whilst they wait for females to join them in the mating region. After the pair mates, males leave females. The female lays green-colored, hairy-looking ball-shaped eggs on newly blooming flowers or on the buds of their host plant. Females leave their eggs on this plant and within a week's span, the eggs hatch into larvae or caterpillars. These caterpillars are green and hairy with a line on their back that connects their head to the end of their body. The caterpillars or larvae feed on the fruits and flowers of the host plant. As the gray hairstreak caterpillar enters its growing stage, it converts into a pupa. This chrysalis then transforms into the beautiful gray hairstreak adult butterfly around the 10th day of its life.

What is their conservation status?

The gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, has been marked under the Secure category of the NatureServe conservation status system. It is not evaluated on the IUCN Red List.

Gray Hairstreak Fun Facts

What does a gray hairstreak look like?

As the gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, goes through many transformations in its lifetime, it also has different appearances that can be mapped across its transformations. The eggs are usually green and in a ball shape. After hatching, the larvae or the caterpillars are green with short hair on their bodies. Each caterpillar has lines on the body with a vertical line that goes from its head to the end of its body. In some of the places in North America, the larvae might also have different colors like brown-red, purple-white, or pink. They have a yellow-brown colored small head. Once this caterpillar turns into a pupa, the chrysalis is green or brown in color with lots of small hairs on it. Then, the gray hairstreak butterfly caterpillar transforms into its adult form. An adult butterfly has dark gray-brown upper wings. It has two black-orange eyespots on the hind wings. This species also has black and white antennae on the head and similar-looking thin tails on the hind wings.

Gray hairstreaks have beautiful gray wings with orange eyespots on the hindwings.

How cute are they?

Super cute! Gray hairstreaks have a solid color with a bright orange lining which makes this species stand out in nature. Their cuteness and beauty can be appreciated especially during spring, when they fly on open lands.

How do they communicate?

Butterflies from every region are known to communicate with their pheromone sensing skills. They communicate with the chemical presence near them and they usually taste it with their feet.

How big is a gray hairstreak?

This gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, with a size range of 1-1.4 in (2.6-3.6 cm), is much shorter than the monarch butterfly. This is a gossamer-winged butterfly with a large wingspan, which is usually the size of its body.

How fast can gray hairstreaks fly?

Even though this butterfly is known to be an erratic and quick flyer, the exact speed of the gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, is yet not known.

How much does a gray hairstreak weigh?

Although these butterflies have a good wingspan and are known to be one of the smalles species, their exact weight is unknown.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, is a name that is used for both males and females of this species.

What would you call a baby gray hairstreak?

The babies of a gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, butterfly are either called caterpillars or larvae.

What do they eat?

Unlike many other butterflies, the gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, species does not limit its food sources to a specific plant. In fact, these butterflies feed on many different plants right from cotton, and maize, to peas, beans, and fruit plants, too. As nectar is the major source of food for adults, they usually feed on the nectar from different flowers. During spring they are seen fluttering around shrubs and maize or cotton fields to find flowers and fruits for their dietary needs.

Are they dangerous?

No, they are not dangerous. Although, as they feed on different host plants and beans, fruits, and crops in every region that they live in, the caterpillars of these butterflies are considered crop pests by humans.

Would they make a good pet?

Due to their short lifespan and their love for living in the natural surroundings, keeping the gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, as a pet is usually not advised.

Did you know...

A few observers call the larvae of this butterfly, singing caterpillars, because they are known to hum in an ant-like sound to communicate with ants.

The gray hairstreak's birth process

After the eggs are laid by the female, the time taken before hatching might vary for these eggs depending on the temperature conditions in each region. Usually, the eggs are known to hatch within a week or in a span of six days. The larvae develop over a period of 20 days and then turn into a pupa, which further transforms into a butterfly in the next 10 days.

Why are gray hairstreak butterflies endangered?

These butterflies are not actually endangered. They are not evaluated on the Red List of the IUCN. So, it can be concluded that they are not endangered.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other insects from our viceroy butterfly facts and white admiral butterfly facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable gray hairstreak coloring pages.

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