ABOUT BOM SPECIES LIST BUTTERFLY HISTORY PIONEER LEPIDOPTERISTS METHODS
The Butterflies of Massachusetts
22 Striped Hairstreak Satyrium liparops (LeConte, 1833)
The Striped Hairstreak is scattered lightly over our landscape. Scudder’s comment that it was “widely distributed although nowhere abundant” (1889: 881) still holds today, at least for Massachusetts. As with so many species, Thaddeus W. Harris was the first to report it in Massachusetts: “I took it on Blue Hill on the 1st of August. In the markings of the under side of the wings it nearly resembles Thecla Liparops” (Harris 1862: 276). But it was a little different from liparops, which had been described by LeConte from a specimen (or from John Abbot’s drawing) from Georgia. Harris therefore named it Thecla strigosa. Strigosa is now recognised as a northern subspecies (Pelham 2008; Harris' holotype specimen is in the Harvard MCZ). It has smaller tails and fewer hindwing markings than southern Striped Hairstreaks (Cech 2004:113 provides comparative photos). Most of our Striped Hairstreaks still appear to be the northern strigosa, judging from recent photographs (e.g. www.massbutterflies.org ), although there is variability in markings and tail length.
Photo: Amity Place, Amherst MA, F. Model, 6-29-2006
Historically, Striped Hairstreak’s early successional edge and shrub habitat probably at first increased with the expansion of pastures and woodlots after 1650, but then declined at agriculture’s height in the mid-1800’s, and increased again as agriculture declined (Table 1). This pattern of increase-decrease-increase may also apply to Coral Hairstreak, and is perhaps why Scudder, describing the region’s fauna at around 1860, pegged both Striped and Coral as “rare” across New England (1889: 881,813). Subsequently, Striped Hairstreak’s habitat has been limited by the growth of cities and industry, but may have increased in outlying areas. The plethora of museum specimens hint that this species may have increased since Scudder wrote, and it is certainly not “rare” today.
By the 1950s Striped Hairstreak had been collected throughout eastern Massachusetts. In addition to Scudder’s listings of Walpole, Andover, Springfield and Williamstown, there are pre-1900 specimens in the Harvard MCZ from Wollaston, Malden, and Sharon (1896-7, F. H.Sprague) and Lexington (1897, C. Bullard). By 1950, Striped Hairstreak had also been collected from Boxford, Essex, Marblehead, Stoneham, Sherborn, and Framingham (according to Farquhar, 1934); from (Bedford (1917), Groton (1905), Tyngsboro (1928); Mashpee and Chatham (1919-1924); from Fall River and Canton (1935-1947, D. Lennox), and from Nantucket (1924-1945, C. P. Kimball) (MCZ, Boston University and University of New Hampshire collections).
Through the 1960’s and 1970s, Lepidopterists’ Society records document Striped Hairstreak in many locations around the state. Mark Mello collected it in New Bedford in August 1962. James P. Holmes reported it “common” on Cape Ann in early July in 1965, 1966, and 1967. In 1971 he reported that its numbers were up from the previous year, although it was still quite local. Charles G. Oliver found it “very common” in Acton in 1965, and Edward M. Peters found it common in Carlisle in 1971. In 1973, Patrick Carey found 3 worn specimens in South Hadley on July 2, and Dave Winter found it in Westwood, although it was “less common than Banded.” 1974 was said by several observers to be a “down” year for hairstreaks compared to the boom in 1973; Daryll Willis in the Holliston-Sherborn-Framingham area said that “most notable was the downfall of liparops and falacer, both abundant in 1973, but rare in 1974.” (Lep Soc. Correspondence, 1959-1976).
Host Plants and Habitat
The variety of small trees and shrubs used by the Striped Hairstreak distinguishes it from the oak-feeding Banded Hairstreak. In Connecticut, the 1995 Atlas found Striped Hairstreak caterpillars in the wild on Black Cherry (P. serotina), Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), Apple (Pyrus malus), and Pin Oak (Quercus palustris). In Masachusetts, photographer Sam Jaffe working in areas south of Boston also found Striped Hairstreak caterpillars as singles on fresh highbush blueberry and black cherry buds and blossoms. In captivity, they also ate the young foliage (Jaffe 2009; 2010). In 2003, Mark Mello and D. Wagner found a Striped Hairstreak larva on Beach Plum (Prunus maritima) on Nantucket. Striped Hairstreak is known to use many other hosts among tree and shrub Rosaceae and Ericaceae, and also hawthorn, amelanchier, ash, birch, and hornbeam (Scott 1986).
Its habitat is deciduous woodland edges and shrub thickets, including shrub swamps and woods with abandoned apple trees. It is occasionally found in urban parks.
Relative Abundance Today
MBC sighting records rank Striped Hairstreak as Uncommon, and it is reported much less frequently than is the Banded, which is ranked Uncommon-to-Common (Table 5). Striped is reported about as frequently as Edwards’, Coral, and Acadian Hairstreaks.
The 1986-90 Atlas had found Striped Hairstreak in 93 of the 723 blocks searched, ranking it at the upper end of “Uncommon,” on a par with Banded Hairstreak. The Atlas published report even lists both these species as “Common,” but neither hairstreak can be thought of as common in the same sense as, say, Pearl Crescent. The Striped is less easily found than the Banded. but from a good field butterfly watcher’s perspective, the Striped might be still a “fairly easy butterfly to find throughout the state” (Cassie, Atlas).
Chart 22 does not show any marked trend upward or downward in sightings between 1993 and 2009, only a fairly small year-to-year fluctuations.
Chart 22: MBC Sightings per Total Trip Reports, 1992-2009
As with Banded Hairstreak, the high reading from 1992 is accounted for by the unusual 1992 Foxboro NABA count of 124 individuals on 7/11/1992. If there was a local population explosion of Bandeds in that area that year, then some may have been misreported as Stripeds. Or possibly there was also a population explosion of Striped Hairstreaks. The Foxboro NABA Count also reported large numbers of Striped Hairstreaks in 1993 (44 on 7/11/1993) and in 1994 (27 on 7/10/1994), but not in subsequent years. Most NABA counts report Striped Hairstreak numbers of less than ten. The only other report larger than 25 in MBC records is from one location, and one observer: 6/30/2001, Holliston Whitney Swamp, R. Hildreth. This seems clearly to have been a local population surge.
A list-length analysis of MBC data 1992-2010 found a significant 55.9% decrease in reported sightings, or detectibility, of Striped Hairstreak (Breed et al. 2012). However, this analysis may also have been biased by the unusually high number of reports in 1992, and also by identification confusion with Banded Hairstreak.
State Distribution and Locations
Map 22: MBC Sightings by Town, 1992-2009
MBC Records (Map 22) show Striped Hairstreak in 95 towns, well distributed around the state. This generally accords with the picture presented by the 1986-90 Atlas, except that the species does not appear to be any more ‘uncommon’ on Cape Cod than elsewhere.
Striped Hairstreak was reported in good numbers in nearly all years 1992-2009 on the following the NABA Fourth of July Counts: Concord, Blackstone Valley, Bristol, Foxboro, Central, Southern and Northern Berkshire, Central Franklin, and Northern Worcester.
On Cape Cod, Striped Hairstreak has been reported in small numbers from Bourne, Brewster, Eastham, Falmouth, Truro and Wellfleet. The Atlas found it in Barnstable. Mello and Hanson (2004) say that it can reliably be found at Webster Farm Conservation Area in Barnstable, at Wellfleet Bay MassAudubon Sanctuary, and at Horton’s in Truro.
From Martha's Vineyard MBC has many records, and the Atlas had found it at Aquinnah and West Tisbury. Matt Pelikan’s Vineyard Checklist (2002) reports it as Uncommon, with a flight period beginning a bit later (7/14) than on the mainland. Historically, Kimball and Jones (1943) had reported it as “rare” on the vineyard, and there are no specimens, so there may have been some increase in numbers on that island since then. From Nantucket, there were no MBC reports for many years, despite the historical specimens, but on 7/20/2011 a single was photographed at Squam Swamp by E. LoPresti, and on 8/6/2012 B. Zaremba and D. Small reported 7 Striped Hairstreaks on Nantucket.
Striped Hairstreaks are most often seen as a few or single individuals, but at some locations larger numbers have been reported, indicating a good-sized colony. Two locations from which the largest numbers have been reported are Great Blue Hill Canton (maximum 21 on 7/1/2004, T. Murray), and Horn Pond Mountain Woburn (maximum 9 on 7/8/2006, S. Moore and B. Volkle). Other good areas have been Quabbin Park Belchertown; Dover Recycling Center; Easton; Whitney Swamp Holliston (maximum 55 on 6/30/2001, R. Hildreth); October Mountain SF Lee; Middlesex Fells Medford; Milford power lines; Old Town Hill Newbury ("quite common," 7/2/2012, M. Arey); Larkin Recreation Area Northbridge; Wachusett Meadow Princeton; Ipswich River WS Topsfield; Upton; Cherry Hill Reservoir West Newbury; Graves Farm Williamsburg; and Broad Meadow Brook WS Worcester.
Broods and Flight Period
Like our other Satyrium hairstreaks, the Striped has a single, annual brood, flying as an adult from mid-June to the end of August: http://www.naba.org/chapters/nabambc/flight-dates-chart.asp. It appears to emerge slightly later than Banded Hairstreak.
Unlike Coral Hairstreak, but like Banded Hairstreak, Striped Hairstreak does not appear to have advanced its flight period significantly over the 1986-2009 period, according to a study done at Boston University using MAS Atlas and MBC records (Polgar, Primack et al. 2013). Scudder wrote that Striped Hairstreak appears "early in July," there were few records of captures before the 12th (1899: 883). If this were correct for Massachusetts, it would mean that Striped Hairstreak is flying considerably earlier today, a century later. However, the Polgar/Primack study, combining museum, Atlas and MBC records, did not find any significant flight advancement between 1896 and 2009.
First Sightings: In the 20-year period 1991-2010, the earliest observation dates in MBC records are 6/18/1996, Wellesley, R. Forster; 6/19/1999 East Longmeadow, K. Parker; 6/21/2010 Woburn Horn Pond Mtn. H. Hoople, R. and S. Cloutier; 6/23/2001 Woburn Horn Pond Mtn. M. Rines; and 6/23/2004 Woburn Horn Pond Mtn. M. Rines and R. LaFontaine. The Atlas earliest flight date was similar: June 20, 1986. The 2011 and 2012 records kept by BOM (Butterflies of Massachusetts) show similar "first sighting" dates, but do not break any records.
Last Sightings: The MBC latest flight dates in 20-year period 1991-2010 are 8/30/1992 Easton, B. Cassie (also cited in the Atlas); and 8/25/2000, 8/24/2003, and 8/21/2005, all on Cape Ann, D. Savich and C. Tibbits, and 8/19/2009, Rowley, B. Zaremba. In 2011 and 2012, the last sightings were in July, except for 8/6 on Nantucket in 2012 (BOM records). Scudder wrote that "it scarcely flies after the first of August;" the latest date he had was August 14 (1889: 883). Striped Hairstreak may be flying a bit later today.
As in the case of the Banded Hairstreak, the Striped Hairstreak’s multiple plant hosts and shrub/early successional habitat are fairly common across Massachusetts, Its NatureServe rank of S5, or ‘secure,’ for the state seems warranted. It is also S5 in Connecticut, though similarly local and Uncommon there. It has been reported from some parks in urbanized areas.
Unlike the Acadian and Hickory Hairstreaks, but like the Banded Hairstreak, the Striped Hairstreak's present range is wide, extending from Canada south to northern Florida, and west to Texas and the plains, so that climate warming here would not be expected to pose a problem.
© Sharon Stichter 2010 , 2011, 2012, 2013
page updated 4-13-2013
ABOUT BOM SPECIES LIST BUTTERFLY HISTORY PIONEER LEPIDOPTERISTS METHODS