While it’s nearly impossible to follow any hairstreak’s rapid flight, flitting from side to side or in circles, a stop at a “fueling station” provides an opportunity for a closer look. But, you’re unlikely to see the Sylvan’s upper side. It is gray-brown or reddish with a blue sheen, with a small orange patch at the lower edge of the hindwing (females have a yellowish tinge). Like most other hairstreaks, they perch with wings closed. This butterfly ranges from Western Canada south through California, and to New Mexico in areas where willows grow (streamsides, ditches, marshes, foothill meadows, canyons, valley bottoms in Montana). There is one brood per year and it’s likely that this year’s flight is nearing or has already come to the end. Females lay eggs on willow stems and caterpillars hatch in spring and begin feeding on the newly emerged leaves.
Photo by Glenn Marangelo on 8/16/20 in Condon, MT