On Saturday, June 15th a White M Hairstreak (Parrhasium m-album) was found in Hope Meadow. This small butterfly is considered Uncommon in Pennsylvania. (status S3S4) The butterfly is named after the white line formation on the wing that forms an "M" next to the red spot on the lower wing. This hairstreak often keeps its wings closed when perched or feeding concealing the most brilliant blue coloring on the inside of the wings. The host plant for the White M is Eastern oaks including white oak. In Pennsylvania, this butterfly will have three broods, the last of which overwinters as a pupa. It was found in the meadow near the fire ring nectaring on the native dogbane that is currently flowering.
Dogbane (Indian Hemp, Prairie Dogbane or Hemp Dogbane) Apocynum cannabinum is a type of milkweed native to much of North America. This milkweed cannot be used by Monarch butterflies as a host plant but it is a perfect companion to our common milkweed that Monarchs do use in our meadow. Dogbane is an excellent source of nectar for butterflies, moths, and bees. This plant flowers early in the season, often before other plants bloom. It ranks 'very high' by the US Department of Agriculture for its value to pollinators. It attracts a wide variety of pollinators and creates a thick stand providing cover for small mammals. It also has a beetle that lives in the Dogbane called a Dogbane Beetle (Chrysochus auratus) that looks like a metallic rainbow. Come visit Hope Meadow and watch all the pollinators buzzing around the Dogbane. The plant is located near the fire ring and the vegetable gardens. It can be identified by the small white/green flowers and the leaves are attached to a red stalk. When the plant is broken it will secrete a white liquid. We have two thick patches in this area.
James L. Monroe & David M. Wright (2017). Butterflies of Pennsylvania a field guide. Pittsburgh, Pa. University of Pittsburgh Press.
The Natural Web: What Good is Dogbane? https://the-natural-web.org/2014/07/08/what-good-is-dogbane/