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Hairstreaks: The Reward of Channeling Patience

November 9th, 2019 by Michael Dyet

A power of Butterfly must be – / The Aptitude to fly / Meadows of Majesty concedes / And easy Sweeps of Sky – ~ Emily Dickinson

Hmmm, where better to learn patience than in pursuit of tiny gems of Mother Nature?

We are into the bleak days of November which is the month I dislike the most. The cool but picturesque days of autumn are still fresh in my memory. But opening the door vanquishes those memories in a hurry. And so, once again I turn to my archive of winged wonder photos to lift my sagging spirits.

Instinctively I migrate to my favourite butterfly species: Hairstreaks. These nickel-sized beauties, many of which are uncommon, are named after the threadlike tails on the hindwing. They fly rapidly, flitting from side to side or in circles, making them difficult to track and exceptionally difficult to photograph.

Banded Hairstreaks, the most common Hairstreak in my vicinity, frequent sunny glades. They dart out and furiously flutter around before returning to their perch. The specimen below perched on the fine filaments of white flower showing off its markings to full effect.

When I passing willows around marshes and streams, I am on the lookout for Acadian Hairstreaks which display more distinct orange spotbands than the Banded. The specimen below was hiding out upside-down on the underside of a waxy green leaf.


Striped Hairstreaks closely resemble their sister Bandeds and require careful examination to identify. Forest edges and thickets are their habitat of choice. I was very fortunate to capture the specimen below clearly as perched on a leaf that resembled an outstretched hand.


Hickory Hairstreaks are a tough find and classified as rare in their normal habitat of clearings and edges around deciduous woods. The specimen below was a bit making its markings less distinct as it nestled in the protective harbour of a curled leaf.

Gray Hairstreaks are the most widespread hairstreak in North America, but not found in my normal stomping grounds. I had to venture a few hours west to southwestern Ontario find the specimen below clinging to a delicate yellow wildflower beside a marsh.


I have saved the best for last. My field guide classifies Coral Hairstreaks as common in my area. But my experience is different. I have only set eyes on two of these beauties which favour brushy places, thickets and overgrown fields. The lovely specimen below, with a striking orange spotband, was perched low in the grass in a field in one of my favourite haunts.


Butterfly metaphors abound. But since my treasured Hairstreaks are at best occasional and chance finds, let us nominate them today as metaphors for patience. It is a trait I do not usually possess, but sometimes am able to channel with delightful rewards.

Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at www.mdyetmetaphor.com .

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