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Butterflies of Mexico, USA & Canada
Coral Hairstreak
Satyrium titus  FABRICIUS, 1793
Family - LYCAENIDAE
subfamily - THECLINAE
Tribe -
Satyrium titus, Alberta, Canada  Martin Gascoigne-Pees
Introduction
Almost all neotropical and North American Theclinae species are placed in the Eumaeini. The tribe is not especially well represented in collections, so for a long time many remained unstudied and were inappropriately filed away in the 'convenience' genus Thecla. Many taxonomists have attempted to rationalise the systematics of the Eumaeini, the most recent being Robbins who published a revision in 2004, reclassifying the taxa into 83 genera. Currently there are 1058 known species. Taking into account their small size, secretive behaviour, and the great similarities between many species, it is estimated that about another 200 species probably remain to be discovered.
There are 64 described species in the genus Satyrium, which has at various times been known by the synonyms Neolycaena, Nordmannia, Pseudothecla and Strymonidia. The genus occurs across the temperate, sub-arctic and subtropical regions of the northern hemisphere.
In North America there are 13 Satyrium species, All have grey or brownish-grey undersides. The patterning varies considerably from one species to another. Some species such as californica and titus have a row of prominent black post-median spots, while in others these are replaced by the fine lines that give "hairstreaks" their colloquial name. The red submarginal spots of titus are united into a band in favonius, but in several other species are reduced to a single anal spot, or as in the case of fuliginosa, are entirely absent. All Satyrium species have earthy brown uppersides, marked in some species with suffused patches of dull orange.
Satyrium titus is found in southern Canada and throughout temperate regions of the USA.
Habitats
This species is found in a wide variety of habitats ranging from damp woodland to hot dry canyons - almost anywhere in fact where the foodplants grow.
Lifecycle
The eggs are white, dome shaped, finely reticulated, with a conspicuous micropyle. They are laid singly on twigs of bushes in the genus Prunus ( Rosaceae ).
The caterpillars are of the typical louse-like Thecline shape, and are green, with a double row of dark dashes along the back, and suffused reddish patches on the prothorax, thorax and tail end. They feed nocturnally, retreating before dawn to the base of the plant, where they remain during the day. They are regularly attended by ants, which stimulate them to exude a sugary secretion that the ants drink. In return the caterpillars gain a degree of protection from parasitic / predatory insects that are deterred by the ant's presence.
The chrysalis is smooth, peanut-shaped, and pale brown in colour, marked with tiny black dots. It is formed attached to leaf litter at the base of the bush.
Adult behaviour
Males perch on the foliage of bushes to await and intercept passing females. Both sexes nectar at a wide range of flowering plants.
 

 

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