Butterflies Commonly Found in Pennsylvania Part Three

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) This a familiar butterfly that is identified by its  brownish-maroon wings with a ragged cream yellow border.  Bright blue spots edge the inward side of the border. The underside of the wing is striated, ash-black with arrows of blue-green to blue gray chevrons just inside the dirty yellow border. Their coloration allows them to camouflage themselves against dark bark when resting. Their wing span ranges from 2 7/8 to 3 3/8″. Overwintered adults mate in the spring, the males perching in sunny openings during the afternoon to wait for receptive females. Eggs are laid in groups circling twigs of the host plant.

Host plants for the caterpillar are the native willows (Salix), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), American elm (Ulmus americana), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), Nettles (Urtica), and Poplar (Populus deltoids). Their normal habitat is in woodland openings along streams, sunny glades parks, gardens and groves. The adults usually feed at sap flows, especially that of oaks. They will also feed on rotting fruit, and only occasionally on flower nectar. 

American or Little Copper ((Lycaena phlaeas) is a butterfly that was introduced accidentally from Europe along with its host plants which are  sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella) and curly dock (Rumex crisps).  It is the smallest copper with a wing span of  7/8- 1 1/8″.  The dorsal side of the fore wings(FW) are a bright coppery orange while the hind wings(HW) are a dark brown with a copper margin. The ventral side is primarily grayish with black dots with the FW having some orange and the HW having a distinct submarginal band.

The eggs are of the small copper are laid individually on host plant stems or leaves. Young caterpillars chew holes in the underside of leaves; older ones make channels in the leaf tissue. Chrysalids overwinter.

The adult gets nectar from flowers such as the common buttercup, white clover, butterflyweed, yarrow, and the ox-eye daisy.

Habitat: In the East, this butterfly is found in disturbed places including open weedy fields, yards, pastures, landfills, vacant lots  and along roadsides.

Coral Hairstreak (Satyrium or Harkencienus titus).  This butterfly is tailless and has a wing span 0f 1 – 1 1/4″ and it is tailless. The coloring of the males and female differ. The male has dark, pointed, triangular wings which are brown in color on the upper side. The HW is either unspotted or it has light reddish/coral red spots along its margin. The female’s wings are rounded and light brown on the upper side, with reddish spots along the HW margin. The underside of the male and female is a warm grayish-brown and the HW always has a prominent row of large, bright coral-red spots along its border.  The larvae like to feed on the fruits of the Chicksaw plum (Prunus angustifolia), Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), Wild Cherry (Prunus serotina). The adults nectar at milkweeds (Asclepias), dogbane (Apocynum), and clay-loving wild buckwheat(Eriogonum spp.). The latter should not be confused with wild buckwheat (Polygonum convolvulus) which is a noxious weed.   The Coral Hairstreak makes its habitat in the Northeast US in meadows, brushy clearings and roadsides.

Female Coral Hairstreak dorsal side and ventral side.

Male Coral Hairstreak

Eastern Tailed Blue (Everes/Cupido comyntas) This is a small butterfly with a wing span of 3/4 – 1″. On its dorsal side the male is a bright silver blue with a thin dark margin and orange and black HW spots. The female is slate-gray and black with some blue. On the ventral side they are a grays-white with prominent curved rows of gray-black spots. Orange black edged spots are found above the HW tail. Both the males and females have a white fringe.

The males patrol the host plants during the day. Eggs are laid in flower buds and stems. The caterpillar hibernates over the winter inside the pods of beans and peas, pupating the following spring.

Their host plants are from the Legume family (Fabaceae), especially clovers(Trifolium), yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis), beans (Phaseolus), vetch (vicia) and wild pea(Lathyrus ochroleucus). This butterfly has low flight and a short proboscis so i searches out flowers that are close to the ground which are open or short tubed. Eaxamples are the wild strawberry, winter cress, cinquefoils, asters, and white sweet clover.    Their habitat is in fields, gardens, and roadsides. They are very adaptable as long as their host plants are present. 


Butterflies and Moths of North America

Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies, Robert Michael Pyle

Peterson First Guides: Butterflies and Moths, Paul A. Opler.


About chestercoextbutterfly

I am an apprentice Master Gardener with the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) Cooperative Extension Program. My local office is in Chester County. As part of my volunteer activity I am working with a team to develop a Butterfly Garden on the grounds of the  Church of the Loving Shepherd.  We will be using the creation of this garden as an educational program for some of the participants in the Bournelyf Special Camp which, is held every summer. Members of the congregation of the church will be involved as well as in the ongoing maintenance of the garden.The purpose of this blog is to document the project as it develops.
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