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Gray Hairstreak Caterpillar tended by ants - Strymon melinus

Gray Hairstreak Caterpillar tended by ants - Strymon melinus
Parkwood, Durham County, North Carolina, USA
June 24, 2006
Size: 4 mm
I've found little holes in my green beans previously, and finally found the culprit--Gray Hairstreak caterpillars! Apparently, they have a wide taste in legumes. This one was being tended by a few ants. I've got two of the hairstreaks (sans ants) in containers and will try to rear them. The previous couple I've had, from Redbud, pupated, but have not eclosed in over a year:

Size of caterpillar estimated. Allen's reference on caterpillars (1) says the markings on this species are quite variable. Identification confirmed--I got two pupa and later (7/13/06) one imago Gray Hairstreak from this group of caterpillars. (Photos later of pupa--the butterfly escaped.)

Ant tending apparent gray hairstreak caterpillar

A couple of photos taken 7/6/06 I am assuming is a gray hairstreak caterpillar....because tended by an ant and colors of larva match fairly well (I see they are variable). This one was on Salvia, not on the host plant lists, but I'm not sure it was feeding and gray hairstreak eats a wide variety, books say.

Click here

Click here

I may add these images direct to Bug Guide later.


Looks like it
Yes, that looks like what I believe to be Gray Hairstreak. I'm trying to rear the current batch of three from the green beans to verify this. One popped a bunch of parasitic wasps (photos TBA), and the other two formed chrysalises that look viable. (My previous batch from Redbud formed chrysalises but have not eclosed in over a year.) I wonder if the ants are important in keeping the parasitic wasps away? Certainly seems like reasonable speculation.

So we'll see, but they all certainly look right for Gray Hairstreak.

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