Wild Guide: Red-Banded Hairstreak

By MDC | April 1, 2023
From Missouri Conservationist: April 2023

The red-banded hairstreak’s tannish-gray underside has a unique pattern of white, black, and red-orange bands. Hallmarks of the group include relatively bold eyespots and small, threadlike hindwing “tails.” The tails function as mock antennae to fool predators into targeting the outer hindwing edge, instead of the butterfly’s head. Hairstreaks habitually rub the hindwings up and down, wiggling the false antennae, adding to the ruse. Larvae are drab brownish yellow-green with an indistinct bluish-green line running down the back and a heavy covering of short, brownish hairs.

Did You Know?

The red-banded hairstreak’s species name, cecrops, originated in ancient Greece. Cecrops was the name of a mythical king whose top half looked like a person and bottom half looked like a fish or reptile. We surmise that this name may have been chosen because this butterfly appears to have two heads — a double form.

Photo of a red-banded hairstreak

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Staff Writer – Dianne Van Dien
Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler