Satyrium Time

The first Satyrium of 2012 was this freshly-emerged oak hairstreak (S. favonius) that Dave Amadio found in his garden in West Deptford on June 1. This species and Edward’s are generally the most difficult members of the genus to find in our area.

Among other reasons that early June to mid-July makes for exciting butterflying in southern NJ is that it’s the “now or never” period for Satyrium hairstreaks.

We have five members of the genus to chase and often none is a “gimme.” Their average frequency as recorded on our log from from 2008-2011:

Banded hairstreak, S. calanus, ~16 reports/year
Coral hairstreak, S. titus, ~11 reports/year
Striped hairstreak, S. liparops, ~9 reports/year
Edward’s hairstreak, S. edwardsii, ~3 reports/year
Oak [= northern] hairstreak, S. favonius, ~2 reports/year.

Averages don’t quite capture the challenge, however. As experienced butterflyers know, this group’s numbers vary widely from year to year. In 2008 all Satyrium were very scarce throughout New Jersey, and we had only eight reports for our area: 4 reports of banded, 2 of coral, 1 Edwards, and 1 oak. We didn’t find a single striped hairstreak in all of South Jersey that year. Last year, the best for the group over our log’s short existence, we totaled 71 Satyrium reports: 33 reports of banded (98 individuals), 16 reports of coral (62 individuals), 14 of striped (but only 16 individuals), and 8 reports of Edward’s (our total of 20 individuals may have been inflated by some repeats in the limited sites of this species).

We had not a single report for oak hairstreak last year, so Dave A’s find (photo above) on such an early date seems a good omen.

(For early/late dates of the Satryium — and all species — go to
Early & Late Dates, 2009-11)

Of course, Satyrium hairstreaks are only one small component of the June/July pageant of butterflies and other insects, so there’s lots else to look for.

You could find yourself admiring a freshly-emerged, second-brood gray hairstreak, like this one photographed by Will Kerling at Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve on June 2.

Or you might find yourself face-to-face with a tiger beetle as Will K did, same place and date as above.

Keep exploring, everyone!


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