Sunday, June 22, 2014

unidentified Satyrium hairstreak ~ 06/22/14 ~ Chews Ridge

unidentified male Satyrium hairstreak

posted 10/11/14 - This ID has had me stumped ever since June.  Both photo series are of the same individual as I turned around to capture different lighting angles.  It would have been great to get a photo of the topside (dorsal) wing color and abdomen to help ID, but that didn't happen.  As I was asking Chris his thoughts as to what it was, he forgot it was simply sitting on my finger and it promptly flew away into the sun when he made a sudden movement.  That's the handicap I've given myself this year by not collecting specimens.  Honestly, I didn't want to deal with lugging around a net and killing jar, pinning and spreading, and not to mention permit paperwork.  I think scrutinizing photos has been a good learning tool for me, but as evidenced here, it's not perfect.

I sent one of the lighter-colored pics around to my trusted butterfly posse (I hope they don't mind me calling them that), and I received a surprising variety of answers.  Their suggestions for ID are as follows (links open in new windows for photo comparisons):
gold-hunter's hairstreak (Satyrium auretorum) - BOA, BugGuide, Flickr
mountain mahogany hairstreak (Satyrium tetra) - BOA, BugGuide, Flickr
hedgerow hairstreak, aka sepia hairstreak (Satyrium saepium) - BOA, BugGuide, Flickr

I also trust Butterflies of America (BOA) more than self-reported ID sites like BugGuide and Flickr, which both have a few ID errors.  Even UC Irvine's Butterflies of Orange County has what I believe is a gold-hunter's in the middle of hedgerows.  These look-alike spp. are not well-illustrated in my field guides, so we're not alone in our uncertainty.  Can you ID?

ps - After initially insisting it was a mt. mahogany because of how dark it was, I'm now leaning towards a hedgerow hairstreak, mainly because of the tailend patterning.  There's a notable lack of any orange near the tails, which even if worn would have been an indication for gold-hunter's.  Besides, the tails are too long to be a male gold-hunter's, I think.  Oh, how do I know it's a male?  The relief of the teardrop-shaped scent gland (stigma) can be seen in the middle of the hindwing in the shadowier photos.