Thursday, August 6, 2009

Colorado Hairstreak

My contribution to the State Insects Swap

Right before LTCs were introduced, I was part of several swaps of a different sort. Well, not so much a different sort, but definitely a different size. This monster of a stamp measures 4.25" x 3.75", much larger than the standard size restriction of trading cards. I suppose I didn't have to carve such a large stamp, but I like to use up all the space available - the card size requirements for this swap was 4" x 6".

It is the Colorado Hairstreak butterfly - lovely, isn't it.

Since 1996 The Colorado Hairstreak (Hypaurotis crysalus) has enjoyed designation as State Insect of Colorado. Upon passage, Colorado became the 37th state in the Union to name an official insect.

The selection of the Colorado Hairstreak is perhaps the most inspired of all states. That Colorado even has a State Insect is due almost entirely to the efforts of Colorado 4th graders led by Melinda Terry, a teacher at Wheeling Elementary in Aurora, CO. Over the course of several years the effort inched forward, starting with consensus selection of the most appropriate candidate insect. Efforts to get a bill submitted were met with disappointment in the early stages. Thanks to steady lobbying the Colorado Hairstreak prevailed even deflecting a last-minute effort to substitute the honey bee. Hey kids, nice work!!

The Colorado Hairstreak is a native insect found in Colorado and other areas of the Southwest. The insect overwinters in the egg stage. The caterpillars emerge in spring and develop on oak leaves, particularly Gambel Oak. The adults enjoy one flight per year, usually beginning in June and lasting throughout summer. Eggs are laid singly on twigs of the host tree in late summer to early fall. The adults are small to medium in size with a wing span ranging from 1.25 to 1.5 inches. They are easily identified by the characteristic slender "tail" protruding from the hind wing and by their beautiful coloration. The upper sides of the wings are purple with a wide dark border and orange spots on the outer edge of each wing. Adults may be found resting on and patrolling amongst oak thickets. Tree sap, raindrops, and aphid honeydew constitute the primary diet of the butterflies.

My good letterboxing friend, preboxed, was kind enough to plant this not-so-little Hairstreak where it belonged...in Colorado. But, alas it has gone missing since planting and it is lost forever. Thanks, pre, for taking the time to plant this carve and caring about it - you're awesome!

3 comments:

Nitrocat said...

Fantastic!

Ari C'rona said...

Lovely, my dear! :o)

Mama Cache said...

I am happy to have that butterfly in my collection from that state insects swap (especially since it is missing).

That "postal" swap that was the model for the first LTC swap.;-)

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