E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Strymon melinus Hübner, [1818]
Grey Hairstreak; Shrub Hairstreaks
Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer Wings)
Species account authors: Crispin Guppy and Jon Shepard.
Extracted from Butterflies of British Columbia
The Families of Lepidoptera of BC
Introduction to the Butterflies of BC
Photo of species

© Caroline Wallace  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #14527)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Strymon melinus in British Columbia
Details about map content are available here.

Species Information


The Grey Hairstreak is the only tailed hairstreak found in BC that has a grey ground colour on the upperside of the wings. The underside of the wings is also distinctive. The spring generation has a grey ground colour and the summer generation has a chalky white ground colour. Both broods have a line of contrasting black postmedian spots on the underside of both wings.

Immature Stages

Because the Grey Hairstreak is a pest of beans, it has often been reared. Scudder (1889b) gives a good description of the immatures. The egg is 0.60 mm wide by 0.36 mm high, and is pea green. The mature larva is a dingy, velvety brown with no apparent markings. It is covered by long, bristly hairs up to 5 mm long. The size of the mature larva is 6.8 mm long by 2-4 mm wide. The typical lycaenid pupa is 9.0 mm long.


Coastal populations are the subspecies S.m. atrofasciatus McDunnough, 1921 (TL: Wellington [Nanaimo], BC). In the interior the subspecies is S.m. setonia McDunnough, 1927 (TL: Seton Lake, [Lillooet], BC).

Genus Description

The name Strymon is derived from the Strymon River at the boundary of Macedonia and Thrace (Emmet 1991). The common name for the genus was recently coined by Opler (1998).

The genus Strymon differs from all other BC Theclinae in the structure of the male genitalia. The tip of the aedeagus is not flared or bent as in other genera in BC. Our single species has tails and obscure scent patches on the male dorsal forewing, but other species in the genus may lack either tails or scent patches. This is a large genus, found primarily in the neotropics. There are 12 species in the southern USA with one ranging north to Canada. The genus uses a large variety of larval foodplants.


The Grey Hairstreak flies in two broods, from late April to early June and from mid-July to late August. In the Okanagan Valley there is at least a partial third generation. In BC the overwintering stage is the pupa (JHS). Larvae feed on a variety of native herbaceous growth, legume genera, and garden beans. Jones (1939) recorded it on fruits of raspberry. Guppy (1954) reared spring brood adults from Vancouver Island larvae on the native clovers Trifolium oliganthum and T. willdenowii. Guppy (1959) again reared spring brood adults but on a different native plant, the wild strawberry, Fragaria vesco ssp. bracteata. Guppy (1959) also reared second brood adults from Anaphalis margaritacea. In all of Richard Guppy's rearings, the larvae fed on flowers. Oviposition has been observed on Trifolium oliganthum at Bamberton (CSG) and second-generation larvae have been found feeding on Gaultheria shallon berries at Metchosin (AGG). Shepard (JHS) has reared larvae from second-brood adults on green bean pods in the Nelson area. The young larvae fed on the developing beans inside the pod, and the mature larvae fed on the surface of the maturing bean pod (JHS).


The Grey Hairstreak is found on Vancouver Island and east across the southern part of BC. It is found in the understorey of mature pine or Douglas-fir stands and in riparian situations in association with legumes, which are the native larval foodplants. It can also be a pest of cultivated beans.



The Grey Hairstreak is found from southern BC across the southern fringe of CAN to NS, and south throughout the entire USA and MEX.

Status Information

Scientific NameOrigin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
Strymon melinusNativeS5YellowNot Listed
Strymon melinus atrofasciataNativeS4YellowNot Listed
Strymon melinus setoniaNativeS5YellowNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-07-22 8:13:14 PM]
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