How to find eggs of the White-letter Hairstreak

Winter time and the butterfly season is over. Is it? That’s what I used to believe, too. However, there’s at least two activities that can be performed during the cold months of the year. Document your photos and results from the previous summer and get prepared for the next season.

Searching for overwintering eggs is part of such preparation. In this particular case, eggs of the White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album). So far, I’ve managed to track down eggs of the the Purple Hairstreak (Neozephyrus quercus) on twigs fallen to the ground and eggs of the Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae), laid on easily accessible growth. It turned out the White-letter Hairstreak was a bit more challenging.

After sighting many adult butterflies of the species flying last summer I knew where to start searching. I also made some research on the web to be aware of what to look out for. The eggs look a bit different than those of other hairstreaks, and the black color doesn’t give an easy clue like in case of the Brown Hairstreak.

It took several approaches to score the first ovum. Winter conditions with snow, freezing temperatures, wind and simply the lack of light made the quest difficult. However, I finally got lucky. Actually, I’ve only found a single egg so far. Due to short daylight and a temperature below the freezing point I called it a day after the first finding. Furthermore, I’m also locking forward to searching with a friend of mine, in which case it’s more fun to be out (and more secure as well).

To keep it short, here’s how to get started. Look out for elm trees. Track down branches or twigs with both leaf and flower buds. Browse through the buds. Try to access twigs higher up, in my case a bridge close to a tree made is possible to reach higher.

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