Great Purple Hairstreak


This is the largest and most spectacular hairstreak in the United States, the most northern member of a primarily tropical genus.  The iridescent aquamarine spots on its hindwings draw attention to its tails, inviting predators to strike there, rather than to make deadly attacks on its body.  The bright red spots at the base of the wings and the bright orange abdomen, warns off predators, while the iridescent blue on the underside of the male forewing is there to excite butterfliers. The topside, rarely seen well because these butterflies almost never open their wings while landed, is, on males, brilliant iridescent blue with large black scent patches, while females are duller blue-gray.  


Open woods, thorn scrub, suburbia -- any place with good quantities of its caterpillar foodplants.

Flight Period

Throughout warm weather.

Caterpillar Foodplants

Mistletoe family (Viscaceae), often on those species growing on oaks and cottonwoods.

Other Notes

To quote Jeffrey Glassberg in Butterflies through Binoculars: The East "  The origin of the name Great Purple Hairstreak is hazy.  But when this tropically-oriented beauty kisses the sky with its brilliant iridescent blue topside, you will soar as high as Jimi Henrix's music."

Scientific Information

Scientific Name - Atlides halesus