As with other hairstreaks, the tails and eyespots on the hind wings resemble a head. Movement of the tails is believed to attract a predator's attention away from the vital areas.
This species could be undergoing a slight range expansion in New York. It is sometimes found at relatively high abundance and it has been found at numerous locales along coastal New York. Because it appears to be a generalist, occupying heavily urbanized areas and feeding on a variety of common food sources in both the adult and caterpillar stage, threats to the viability of populations are unclear at this time. It is likely that this species will be removed from the active tracking list in the future.
Glassberg (1993) and Cech and Tudor (2005) stated that this species was expanding northward, and although it is sometimes reported in modest numbers around New York City (Fiore and Wallstrom 2003-2006), there does not appear to be a sustained ongoing range expansion farther north in New York in recent years and the current range is similar to that shown in Shapiro (1974).
This species extended its range northward and colonized metropolitan New York City sometime after 1950 and became locally common in lowland areas (Shaprio and Shapiro 1973).
Because this species seems to be expanding in New York, threats are unclear. In general, urbanization, habitat loss and insecticide spraying can threaten butterfly populations in metropolitan New York City (Matteson and Roberts 2010).
In general, management strategies for ruderal insects of heavily urbanized areas are not relevant (NatureServe 2009). Nevertheless, Matteson and Roberts (2010) suggested three conservation strategies for butterflies of metropolitan New York: 1) locate and promote conservation of early-successional habitats such as pine-oak barrens, wet meadows and serpentine and calcareous grasslands; 2) assess the status of host plants; and 3) population monitoring.
Very little is known of the biology and life history of this hairstreak, especially in the northern part of its range. Potential mechanisms of range expansion and population dynamics have not been addressed. Caterpillar detritus feeding is unique and deserves further study (Cech and Tudor 2005).
On Long Island these butterflies are primarily found in and around scrub oak forest and edges, but also in hammocks, fields, right of ways, brushland, and occasionally yards with foodplants. Adults are seen mostly in the open and on edges of scrub oak forest but can be encountered in shadier situations in hotter weather. Adults commonly visit gardens (NatureServe 2009). This hairstreak is most common in successional old fields with thick vegetation and in hammocks behind coastal dunes (Opler and Krizek 1984).
This species is primarily found along the coast from Staten Island east to central Suffolk County, rarely inland to Rockland and Westchester Counties. This forms the extreme northeastern range extent of this northern representative of a tropical group of hairstreaks.
Kansas and Texas east to Long Island and south to Florida. It is most common on the southeastern coastal plain.
The undersurface of the wings is gray-brown with a postmedial white line edged with a bright orange to red-orange band. Each hind wing has two tails (hairstreaks) with a relatively large conspicuous eyespot on the wing margin between the bases of the tails and the wingspan of the adult is about 1.0". Caterpillars are brown with a median dorsal longitudinal stripe and are covered with short hairs (Hall and Butler 2010).
This species' small size, ventral red postmedian band, dark grayish wings with a dorsal iridescent blue color in flight is diagnostic.
Males perch on shrubs and small trees watching for females. Females lay eggs singly on the underside of fallen leaves near the host plant. Caterpillars feed on leaves and buds and detritus (Cech and Tudor 2005). Chrysalids and fourth-stage caterpillars hibernate. Newly emerged individuals occasionally sip moisture from puddles on trails (Opler and Krizek 1984).
Caterpillar hosts: fallen leaves of wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), dwarf sumac (Rhus copallina), staghorn sumac (R. typhina), and several oaks. Primarily associated with R. copallina on Long Island. Adult food: flower nectar from yarrow, wild cherry, tickseed, sunflower, sumac, sweet pepperbush, New Jersey tea, common milkweed, and dogbane (Opler and Krizek 1984).
Shapiro (1974) reported the species to be double brooded on Staten Island, with a flight season from July through October while Glassberg (1993) provided data from the New York City area on two flight periods: early May to late June and late July through October. Sightings from Fiore and Wallstrom (2003-2006) are also in line with Glassberg's flight seasons. Individuals remain active throughout the day, but late afternoon is the period of greatest activity (Cech and Tudor 2005).
The time of year you would expect to find Red-banded Hairstreak present and active in New York.
Calycopis cecrops (Fabricius, 1793)
Cech, R., and G. Tudor. 2005. Butterflies of the East Coast: An Observer's Guide. Princeton University Press.
Fiore, T. and K, Wallstrom. 2003. New York State Butterfly Records for 2002. New York Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association. 52 pp.
Fiore, T. and K. Wallstrom. 2004. New York State Butterfly Records for 2003. New York Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association. 52 pp.
Fiore, T. and K. Wallstrom. 2005. New York State Butterfly Records for 2004. New York Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association. 54 pp.
Fiore, T. and K. Wallstrom. 2006. New York State Butterfly Records for 2005. New York Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association. 54 pp.
Gifford, S.M., and P.A. Opler. 1983. Natural history of seven Hairstreaks in coastal North Carolina. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 37:97-105.
Glassberg, Jeffrey. 1993. Butterflies through binoculars: A field guide to butterflies in the Boston-New York-Washington region. Oxford University Press, New York. 160 pp.
Hall, D.W., and J.F. Butler. 2010. Redbanded Hairstreak, Calycopis cecrops. Featured Creature No. EENY-108. Florida Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, Gainesville.
Matteson, K.C., and N. Roberts. 2010. Diversity and conservation of butterflies in the New York City Metropolitan area. Cities and the Environment 3(1):poster 18.
NatureServe 2009. NatureServe Explorer. An online encyclopedia of life. Arlington, VA. Available at: http://www.natureserve.org/explorer.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.
Opler, P.A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, MA. 396 pp.
Opler, Paul A. and G. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies East of the Great Plains. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
Rawson, G.W., and S.A. Hessel. 1951. The life history of Strymon cecrops (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae). Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society 46:79-84.
Shapiro, A.M. 1974. Butterflies and Skippers of New York State. Search 4:1-60.
Shapiro, A.M., and A.R. Shapiro. 1973. The ecological associations of the Butterflies of Staten Island. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 12:65-128.
This guide was authored by: Jeffrey D. Corser
Information for this guide was last updated on: July 6, 2011
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023. Online Conservation Guide for Calycopis cecrops. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/red-banded-hairstreak/. Accessed March 31, 2023.