Rare telea hairstreak butterfly back in the USA after 70 years


Telea Hairstreak, photo by N. Dobbs

From Associated Press:

Butterfly Sighting Causes Stir in Texas

FALCON HEIGHTS, Texas — A tiny green butterfly not seen in the United States in more than 70 years likes the new butterfly garden at Falcon State Park, experts said.

Berry Nall of Falcon Heights took a photograph of his find on Monday, posted it on his Web site and asked members of an online mailing list to help him identify it.

“I tried to get as many pictures as I could, but it took off,” Nall said.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department informed him that he had taken a picture of a telea hairstreak butterfly.

“I knew something was going on when I couldn’t find it (in any books),” he said.

Mike Quinn, an invertebrate biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife’s wildlife diversity program, said he immediately started reviewing his books to verify the insect was a telea hairstreak after he saw the posting.

“As soon as I saw the photo, my jaw dropped. It was fresh as a daisy and crisp,” he said.

Avery Freeman first captured a telea hairstreak in Laredo in 1935, Quinn said. The specimen is at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Quinn said two other types of green hairstreak butterflies, the xami and the silver-banded, can be spotted in the Rio Grande Valley and feed off the same plants as the telea hairstreak.

A telea hairstreak has tiny filaments on the lower back sides of the wings. It also has false antennae, also on the backs of the wings, that serve to dupe predators, he said.

Chromosomal evolution of South American frugivorous butterflies in the Satyroid clade (Nymphalidae: Charaxinae, Morphinae and Satyrinae): here.

Heliconius butterfly colours: here.

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