Great Purple Hairstreak

Atlides halesus

Summary 5

The Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus), also called the Great Blue Hairstreak, is a common gossamer-winged butterfly species in parts of the United States. Adults protect themselves from predators by moving their wings up and down to draw attention to their false heads made by the tails and spots on the hind wings. Thus, if a predator attacks a butterfly by grabbing its tail, the tail will break off and the butterfly can escape.

Description 6

Atlides halesus are relatively large butterflies, with a wingspan ranging from 30mm to 50mm. The upper side of their wings is black with brilliant iridescent blue. Below, the wings are a purplish black color with gold iridescent markings near the tails. Atlides halesus have two tails attached to each hind wing, one shorter than the other. The underside also has red spots near the attachment to the abdomen. The abdomen is blue on top and red-orange underneath. Females are slightly larger and duller than males.

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; male more colorful

Larva Description 6

Atlides halesus larvae are green with dark green bands, yellow stripes, and a narrow green mid-dorsal line. They are also covered in short orange and green hairs.

The pupae are mottled brown and black.

Range wingspan: 30 to 50 mm.

Larval Host Plants 7

Host plants are largely restricted to a few species of hostplant mistletoe parasites (Loranthaceae) found on trees. Larvae eat leaves and male flowers.

GTM Occurrence 8

The Great Purple Hairstreak is considered a rare species at the GTM. Two specimens were observed on the Red Bay Walk (Transect D) on May 24, 2010.

Distribution 9

Global Range: Across United States, largely in the South; wanders north to New York, Illinois, Oregon. Also, south into Mexico.

Habita 7

Atlides halesus habitats are wooded areas mostly south of 38 degrees latitude. Deciduous forests, conifer flats, watersides, where larval host, mistletoe (genus Phoradendron) is found. A variety westward, mostly swamps in the east.

Nature serve conservation status 10

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: Widespread and common.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Bill Bouton, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),
  2. (c) Mary Keim, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  3. (c) Paul Bedell, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  4. (c) gtmresearchreserve, all rights reserved, uploaded by GTMResearchReserve,
  5. (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  6. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  7. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) Leslie Ries, some rights reserved (CC BY),
  8. (c) GTMResearchReserve, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)
  9. (c) NatureServe, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),
  10. (c) NatureServe, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),

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Category name rare
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