This freshly emerged Banded Hairstreak (Satyrium calanus) was perched on a hackberry leaf outside my back door. Butterfly colors come from tiny scales that cover the wings. As these scales gradually wear away, so does the vibrancy of the insects’ colors. Only butterflies that have newly emerged from their chrysalis look so tidy and fresh. The stripey antennae on this hairstreak add some panache.
This species has just one generation per year. Adults mate in early summer, then lay their eggs on oak and hickory twigs, placing the eggs near the twigs’ buds. The eggs remain dormant until the next spring, when the caterpillars emerge and eat the fresh greens sprouting from the trees’ buds. So, the individual in the photograph is nearly a year old, having spent most of last year as an egg.