Joanne Langabee and her friend Holly have been doing weekly butterfly surveys at Fonenelle Forest and Lauritzen Gardens for a few years now (three and five years respectively). In doing so they have observed the comings and goings of quite a number of species and gotten a handle on when and where a particular species might be found. But last week at Fontenelle Forest they encountered something entirely new to them – a White M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m album). It is a beautiful little butterfly named for the white M (or W depending on your perspective) on the ventral hindwing. The upperside is a brilliant iridescent dark blue bordered by black. One striking butterfly!!
White-M Hairstreak – Larvae of this hairstreak feed on oaks. Its distribution is eastern North America and Nebraska would be on the extreme western edge of its range. In Nebraska it had been recorded only once before (1 Aug 2012), also at Fontenelle Forest. This first record was considered a stray but with a second record (in mint condition) from the same location we might now have to consider the possibility that it is a breeding (but rare) resident. If this is the case that might mean much of eastern Nebraska could possibly be breeding habitat. It has been reported to have as many as three generations in areas as far north as Nebraska so if it is indeed a breeding resident there may be spring, mid and late summer flights. As mentioned earlier to date has only been found in Sarpy County but might be expected in southeastern counties as well.
So if you live in southeast Nebraska (or anywhere for that matter) enjoy your time outdoors and be observant – you never know what you might find. As for myself I received my Monarch tags a couple of days ago and am looking forward to the migration. I’m also waiting for a Fiery Skipper to show up in my yard to get me to 100 species for the year. Yesterday Jen and I ventured out into the loess hills south of North Platte where we visited Box Elder and Wapiti SWMAs hoping to find Baird’s Swallowtails and Pawnee Skippers. Wapiti is a really cool out of the way place – getting there is half the fun (about 10 miles south of Fort McPherson National Cemetery). Be prepared to open and close some cattle gates!! We ended up finding neither butterfly but hopefully may find them on a trip to Ash Hollow SHP tomorrow along with Colorado Skippers. Also hoping to find third generation Horaces Duskywings yet and maybe Bordered Patches if they make a late season push into Nebraska before the season winds down. You never know what might turn up. Keep sending your pics to NebraskaButterflies@gmail.com