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White M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album)

White M Hairstreak
Habitat: In and along shrubby woodlands, oak hammocks, hardwood forests, and other areas that support oaks. Garden Abundance: Uncommon Wingspan: 1.0 - 1.5in Range: From southern Massachusetts west to Kansas and south through Florida and the Gulf Coast states. Larval Host Plants: Various oaks, including live oak (Quercus virginiana Favorite Adult Nectar Sources: Butterflyweed ( Asclepias tuberosa), various viburnums (Viburnum spp.), redbud (Cercis canadensis), white sweet clover (Melilotus alba), tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis), Chickasaw plum (Prunus angustifolia), and various goldenrods (Solidago spp.).

The white m hairstreak is commonly encountered on small flowering plants along the borders of hardwood forests and shrubby areas where oaks can be found. Males are iridescent blue above with black borders on their wings. Females are duller in color and have less blue. The hind wings are gray beneath with a thin jagged white line that forms the letter M. Near the rear of the hind wings is a single bright red patch adjacent to two small, hairlike tails. While feeding, adults always rest with their wings closed, and are easily overlooked due to their small size and drab markings of the wing undersides. When in flight, however, their bright iridescent blue upper wing surfaces literally sparkle in the sunlight and quickly give away their position. Their flight is erratic and fast.

Female white M hairstreaks deposit their small green eggs singly on new leaves or buds of oaks. The green or dull reddish caterpillars eat only young oak leaves. The white m hairstreak produces 2-3 generations each year, and overwinters in the egg stage. In Florida, the first flight appears in late February or early March.

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