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Published on Aug 30, 2008
The Great Purple Hairstreak Butterfly (Altides halesus) is widely distributed in the southern and western United States, but is considered a rare butterfly in most places, and is seldom seen by most people. The larvae feed on various species of Mistletoe. The adult butterflies rarely open their wings, except to take flight, and usually appear as dark charcoal/black-colored when at rest with their wings over their backs. The only time to see the amazing iridescent top side of a living Purple Hairstreak is when they first emerge from the chrysalis and expand their wings.
Just like the more famous Morpho Butterflies of South America, the iridescent scales appear to change color as the light refracts from them at different angles, breaking the wavelengths up into specific frequencies, just like a prism. The freshly emerged adults appear to be bright metallic green for the first few seconds, then change color to a more aqua-blue or purple as the scales change their shape and angle during wing expansion.
The sexes are dimorphic, with the smaller males being a deep metallic blue-green, while the slightly larger females are a less reflective powder blue color.
Description and timeline of events shown: * Eggs - (the little white blobs) shown at a distance for scale, and up close for detail, hatch in about 10 days; * Hatching - tiny, fuzzy 1st instar larva chewing it's way out of the egg, 30 minutes; * Larvae - 5 phases, called "instars", with a skin molting in between each, 3-4 weeks total; * Pre-pupation - the mature larva secures itself to a surface and prepares to pupate (2 days) * Pupation - the pre-pupa larva molts its skin, becoming a pupa (about 10 minutes); * Hardening - the pupal shell hardens to semi-rigid shell in a few hours; * Metamorphosis - the adult develops in the pupal shell (about 2-3 weeks); * Emerging - the fully developed adult cracks-open the shell and crawls free(1-2 minutes); * Wing expansion - the adult pumps fluid into the wing vein structure, expanding them (10 minutes). * Wing "drying" - the fluid in the wings dries, making them rigid enough to fly with (2-3 hours).
Much more butterfly and moth life cycle documentary is available, free to the public at lepidoptera.jcmdi.com.
The soundtrack is "Newton's Prizm" from the "TimeShift" CD by Technician (yours truly), album and single track available on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tim... full artist discography and CDs available at HTTP://technician.jcmdi.com
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