Deer in Spring Landscape

King’s Hairstreak

photo of King's Hairstreak courtesy of Harold L. Wierenga
 King’s Hairstreak ((Satyrium kingi))
Photograph by Harold L. Wierenga

The King’s Hairstreak butterfly is distinguished by its hindwing, having one long and one short tail. The top side of its wings is light brown, the underside having a blue spot with an orange cap on the hindwing. It’s wingspan ranges from 1 1/8 to 1 Ĺ inches.

In Maryland, the King’s Hairstreak may be found on the lower Eastern Shore, in wet woods and swamps. It’s only larval host plant is the Common Sweetleaf (Symplocos tinctoria), not so common in Maryland, in fact considered rare to uncommon. This plant is where the adults lay their eggs and caterpillars feed until ready to metamorphose into butterflies. Adults may be seen flying in late spring and early summer.

There are only four known occurrences of the King’s Hairstreak in Maryland. It is difficult to determine any one cause for this species’ Endangered status. The King’s Hairstreak tends to live in small isolated populations from Texas to Maryland and Delaware along the Atlantic coastal plain and Gulf coast. It has an extremely limited larval food source and is vulnerable to sprays used to combat gypsy moth infestation.

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