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Family Lycaenidae

These butterflies (harvesters, hairstreaks, coppers and blues) are usually small and brightly colored as adults. The body is thin. The antennae have white on them. There are white scales around the eyes. The front legs are normal in the female, but reduced in the male. The body of the larva is flattened.

Moths and butterflies are not shown in equal proportion to actual size. Photographs © photographer listed and may not be used in any other format without the written permission of the photographer.


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coral hairstreak (Satyrium titus) Photo © Mary Kay Rubey

The coral hairstreak has a wingspan of one to one and one-half inches. The upperside of the wings is brown, while the bottom is a lighter brown. On the outer half of each hindwing, there is a row of black spots encircled with white followed by a row of coral-colored spots, each of which has a crescent cap of black and white. The male and female are similar in appearance, although the male’s wings are more pointed than those of the female. 

Found statewide, this species lives in places where there are abundant flowers: gardens; open fields; woodland edges; prairies. Adults may be seen from May through August. One generation is produced per year. The species overwinters in the egg stage. Larvae eat the leaves of black cherry (Prunus serotina) and other types of cherry and plum trees.

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gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus) Photo © Michael Jeffords
The gray hairstreak has a wingspan of about one and one-quarter inches. The upperside of the wings is dark gray, while the underside is a lighter gray. An orange spot with a black dot at the bottom is present at the back edge of each hindwing. The hindwing has two tails. A three-colored line separated into two sections is also present on the hindwing.

This species can be found statewide from April through October. It lives in most open areas. Several generations are produced annually, with overwintering occurring in the chrysalis stage. The larva eats beans, hops and many other species of plants. 

  

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Henry’s elfin butterfly (Callophrys henrici) Photo © Illinois Department of Natural Resources
This species has a wingspan of about one inch. The upperside of the wings is a combination of orange and brown. The under surface of the wings is dark brown on the inner half surrounded by a lighter yellow-brown border. The male and female are similar in appearance. The line dividing the two color areas on the underside of the hindwing has a white patch on each end. There is a curved tail on the hindwing.

Henry’s elfin butterfly can be found in the southern two-thirds of the state. It is closely associated with redbud trees (Cercis anadensis), the host for its larvae. The species is active from March through May when redbud trees are blooming. Each adult lives for only about a week. One generation is produced per year. Overwintering is in the chrysalis stage.   

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Karner blue butterfly (Plebejus samuelis) Photo © Illinois Department of Natural Resources
The Karner blue butterfly has a wingspan of about one and one-quarter inches. The male and female have different coloration, but both of them have a white fringe on the outer edge of all wings. The male is blue on the upperside of the wings with a thin, black border. The female’s upper wings are gray-brown with some blue coloration near the body. The female’s hindwings have a row of black spots, each with a black cap. The undersides of the wings of both sexes are light gray with many black spots circled by white and a row of orange spots with black caps.

This species is found in the northeastern one-fourth of Illinois and is an endangered species in the state. Illinois is at the edge of this species’ natural range. Lupine (Lupinus perennis) is the host plant for the larvae, and it only grows in sandy woods and savannas in this part of Illinois. The species is active from May through August and is believed to produce two generations annually. It overwinters in the egg stage.