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Mallow Scrub Hairstreak

Strymon istapa
(S. columella)


Strymon columella photo © by Michael Plagens

This photo was taken by M. Plagens in the Muggins Mountain Wilderness, Yuma Co., Arizona, USA. 30 Jan. 2010.

Lycaenidae -- Blue and Hairstreak Family

In the Sonoran Desert this small butterfly is associated mostly with plants in the Mallow Family, and in particular Hibiscus. In the Muggins Mountains, where the butterfly at left was observed, Rock Hibiscus (Hibiscus denudatus) is the likely host. For much of the year this subshrub is leafless and the climate in this desert is inhospitable - no rainfall and temperatures far in excess of 40°C. That such a delicate creature (let alone the lovely bloom of the hibiscus) can survive here is a remarkable testiment to the tenacity of life that at the same time holds its beauty. How this butterfly spends the long inhospitable periods is not known; adult butterflies soon appear when conditions improve so the likely resting stage is last-instar larva or pupa.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2010