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Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus)

Great Purple Hairstreak
Habitat: Mixed woodland, forest edges, and parks Garden Abundance: Occasional Wingspan: 1.25 to 2.0in Larval Host Plants: Mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum) Favorite Adult Nectar Sources: shepherd's needles (Bidens alba), redbud (Cercis canadensis), sweet white clover (Melilotus alba), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and Chickasaw plum (Prunus angustifolia)

With a wingspan of nearly two inches, the great purple hairstreak dwarfs most other North American hairstreaks. With its large size, elaborate hair-like tails, bright orange abdomen and brilliant iridescent blue dorsal wing coloration this butterfly is a sight to see! Common throughout the southern half of the U.S., the great purple hairstreak is at home in a variety of habitats from urban parking lots to undisturbed forests. Readily attracted to flowers, the great purple hairstreak is a frequent garden visitor, being particularly fond of small-flowered plants.

The green slug-like larvae feed on mistletoe, a common parasitic plant on various hardwood trees including oaks, pecans and walnuts. Once fully mature, the larvae venture down the trunk in search of a suitable place to pupate. The small dark brown pupae are often found at the base of large mistletoe-bearing trees or on nearby buildings.

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