A. halesus life history
Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus) Life History

Egg, 3-1-10

Recently emerged caterpillar, 3-9-10





3-27-10, mature caterpillar

3-29-10, prepupal caterpillar

3-31-10, chrysalis

4-13-10, fresh Great Purple Hairstreak

I collected a female Great Purple Hairstreak on February 27, 2010. I put her in a screened cage with mistletoe (Phoradendron tomentosum), and by the next afternoon she had laid two eggs. I wanted a few more eggs, but it was very windy and cool (60-70F). I put her under a lamp in a jar with food and mistletoe. Two hours later she had deposited another dozen eggs.

The first two eggs eclosed on 3/9; the rest on the 10th. The caterpillars blended well with the mistletoe leaves, but the airy structure of the plant made the caterpillars relatively easy to find and care for.

The caterpillars took what seemed a long time to pupate: the chrysalis was formed fully 2 days after the larva entered the prepupal stage. Interestingly, several caterpillars in the same container grouped together for pupation. (Unfortunately for the quality of the picture, they did this on the paper towel used to catch frass....)

Communal pupation

Since the hairstreak's chrysalis is dark brown, one would expect that in nature the caterpillar moves from parasitic mistletoe to that plant's host tree before pupating. The dark color of the chrysalis also prevented me from determining when the adult was ready to emerge.

Egg-to-adult took approximately 6 weeks for this group of caterpillars.

Great Purple Hairstreak Page