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Photo#1713274
Gray Hairstreak Butterfly wing flaring behavior - Strymon melinus

Gray Hairstreak Butterfly wing flaring behavior - Strymon melinus
glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA
August 17, 2019
Size: 1 ti 2 cn,
This Gray Hairstreak was exhibiting a striking behavior. I have seen Hairstreaks twitch their thread-like tails to simulate antennae, but this individual was able to curl outward the rounded, fringed corners of the hind wing, flaring out the orange spots to look like eyes. It was a spectacular display, with the fringed edges forming "eye lashes". I will append a series of photos to help illustrate this activity. The first photo is for identification purposes, but on close examination, the lower corners of the hind wing below the tails, can be seen to be curled outward. The anterior and posterior photos show the result of this positioning.

Images of this individual: tag all
Gray Hairstreak Butterfly wing flaring behavior - Strymon melinus Gray Hairstreak Butterfly wing flaring behavior - Strymon melinus Gray Hairstreak Butterfly wing flaring behavior - Strymon melinus

Moved to Strymon melinus
Moved from ID Request.

Yes, Gray Hairstreak. I had no idea they could even do that with their wings!

 
Gray Hairstreak
Certainly was a surprise to me! And I must admit, I only caught it by dumb luck. Didn't notice the behavior by eye alone. The Hairstreak remained on the same mint blossoms for several minutes, while I was determinedly snapping away, trying to be in focus if it opened its wings. No luck... Total failure, I thought. Ended up taking dozens of what I assumed were repetitive, boring photos over several minutes. But what a surprise when I got home and examined those shots!

 
Gray Hairstreak tail display
Since first noting this unique behavior (reported by many others), I have been paying more attention to it and recently half-humorously referred to this display (wing rubbing accompanied by outward curling of the distal corner of the fringed wing and eyespot) as the Hairstreak "fan dance". That joking remark, however, got me to thinking... perhaps it is a mating display instead of, or in addition to, the suggested "deception of predators" (which to me has always rung a bit false.) I did read elsewhere that "males perch all afternoon on small trees and shrubs to seek receptive females." My immediate question then is whether this behavior is equally practiced by male and female Gray Hairstreaks, or is it a primarily male behavior? I have done a good deal of online searching and have yet to find the answer. Perhaps this has already been studied?
Please keep in mind that I am strictly an amateur!
Thanks....
greg slak

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