The Gray Hairstreak

This Gray Hairstreak butterfly found me near the Seymour Demonstration Forest in North Vancouver. He fluttered around my knees, then rested on a log long enough for a nice photo op. Here in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia, we are at the very northern end of the hairstreak’s range. They’re much more common across the U.S.

It’s easy to miss—or dismiss—little creatures like this. We walk along, thinking about other things, perhaps looking at our phones or talking. We may notice the small butterfly, but do we really see it? Do we stop and watch long enough to consider how remarkable these creatures are with their powdery wings and brilliant, distinctive marks and improbable life cycles? Do we wonder how they ever find one another to mate, buffeted about by the wind, being pursued by birds, smashed by speeding cars and sprayed with pesticides?

Yet somehow they prevail.


I think stopping to observe a butterfly is a good exercise for simply being in the moment. Get close, if you can, and take in the patterns and colors and lines. With the hairstreak, appreciate the splash of deep orange at the corners of its wings. See the white stripes and orange tips on its antennae. Think about how this began as an egg, evolved to a caterpillar which formed itself into a chrysalis and emerged as this small miracle that you have had the privilege to experience.