Satyrium Hairstreak Butterflies: Images and ID Tips

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picture of a California hairstreak butterfly

A quick look down the page shows that the Satyrium hairstreaks are best identified by the patterns on their otherwise dull, brown wings.

It’s always a hairstreak treasure hunt finding one, getting the picture and then determining if the patter fits a well known butterfly species or a brand new species for the life’s list.

Satyrium species are spread across the United States, with the Rocky Mountains as the general dividing line. The first five picture show West Coast species. The second seven pictures show Eastern species.

It starts with the the California Hairstreak (Satyrium californica) pictured at the top of the page. California Hairstreaks inhabit open areas near forests and stream sides.

The picture highlights two field identification marks. The top wing has slight orange marks along the border. The bottom wing has orange spots that book-end a black spot by the tail. Unlike many hairstreak species, the wings also have black dots rather than a postmedian line.

picture of a Behr's hairstreak butterfly
The Behr’s Hairstreak is another West Coast species that looks very similar to the California Hairstreak. Note the absence of a hair on the wing. It’s one of a handful of hairless hairstreak butterflies.

picture of a hedgerow hairstreak
The Hedgerow Hairstreak (Satyrium saepium), gets defined by the blue/dark spot near the white-tipped tail.

Unlike other Satyrium species, it lacks the orange spots along the wing borders. The copper color of the top of the wings, not shown in the picture, is more flashy than the underside of the wings.

picture of a Mountain Mahogany Hairstreak
Just going to leave this here. The Mountain Mahogany (Hairstreak Satyrium) and the Hedgerow Hairstreak are practically impossible to tell apart. It’s an educated guess.

picture of a Sooty Hairstreak butterfly
After seeing the general wing pattern for Satyrium hairstreaks on the page, the picture of the Sooty Hairstreak (Satyrium fuliginosum) looks very out of place.

It’s a West Coast species with a series of spots encircled by white rings on the under side of the wings.

picture of a Banded Hairstreak butterfly
Moving East, Banded Hairstreaks (Satyrium calanus) are very common east of the Rocky Mountains. Their wide range can be attributed to the flexibility of the larvae diet. Oak and a variety of other trees such as maple, walnut and hickory serve as hosts.

Identification can be straightforward. The picture highlights the dual tails on the hindwing and the blue and orange spots on the bottom of the hindwing.

picture of an Edward's Hairstreak butterfly
Edwards’ Hairstreak (Satyrium edwardsii) are mostly a northern species of the Midwest and East. Again, keeping with the trend, look for them where ever oak trees grow, they are the larval host tree.

Compared to the Banded Hairsteak they have much more orange on the hindwing.

picture of an Acadian Hairstreak butterfly
Acadian Hairstreaks are also northern species that is common east of the Rockies. The spots encircled in white on the side of the wings is the best way to distinguish them from the Banded and Edwards.

There is also a bright row of orange along the wing and an orange cap on thee blue spot.

picture of a King's Hairstreak butterfly
The range of the King’s Hairstreak (Satyrium kingi) picks up in the Southeast where the range of the Banded Hairstreak leaves off.

They are not as common a species. Identification starts with the dual hairs on the hindwings. There is also an orange cap the hindwing dark spot that is absent from the Edward’s Hairstreak.

The side of the wing does indeed have black spots encircled in white borders.

They are a West Coast species.

picture of a Southern Oak Hairstreak butterfly
With a name such as Oak Hairstreak (Satyrium favonius), it’s easy to guess that Oak is the larval host tree.

Identification again starts with the presence of dual hairs on the wings. Some of the subspecies have an orange cap on the black spot and an abundance of orange spots on the wings. Compare the white band on the wings with the squares on the King’s and Edwards.

picture of a Striped Hairstreak butterfly
Striped Hairstreaks (Satyrium liparops) are also abundant east of the Rockies. The wing pattern looks similar to most of the species presented above except for the presence of multiple white bands or stripes.

picture of a Coral Hairstreak butterfly
Coral Hairstreaks are another abundant Eastern species. Identification begins by noting the absence of a hair on the wings. It’s another hairless hairstreak. Unlike other Satyrium species it also lacks the blue spot on the underwing.

The larvae feed on plum and cherry trees. One can only guess that they are very common in Michigan, the cherry capital of the east.