Home / Gossamer-Winged (Lycaenidae) / Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus)

Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus)


Great Purple Hairstreak

The Great Purple Hairstreak belongs to the species of the gossamer-winged butterfly indigenous to several parts of the United States. Besides the purple shade that is evident through its name, this butterfly also comes in the pattern of blue and is therefore also called the Great Blue Hairstreak. It has several recognized subspecies.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Lycaenidae
  • Genus: Atlides
  • Scientific Name: Atlides halesus

Description and Identification


Great Purple Hairstreak Caterpillar

They have a green body covered with light, fine and short orange or yellow hairs, with a white diamond spot behind their head.


Great Purple Hairstreak Crysalis

The pupa of the Great Purple Hairstreak is dark brown spotted in black.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Color and Appearance: The dusky purple on its underside and iridescent blue bordered with black on the upper side of its wings are the two main color patterns seen in this butterfly. When the wings are open they display a vibrant blue hue teamed with a velvety black border, alongside markings of gold and bright red. When the wings are closed the undersides possess a dusky purple shade. The males look more colorful when in flight than the females.

Atlides Halesus
Great Purple Hairstreak Butterfly

Average wingspan: 32-51mm (1 ¼ -2 in)

Flight pattern: Active, a total of three flights are made in between March and December.


Great Purple Hairstreak Eggs

They look like small green discs.

Quick Facts

Distribution The whole of United States, encompassing the warm temperate and sub-tropical region of Northern America, and all through the South up to the Panama Canal
Habitat Mesquite forests, oak woods, walnut plantations especially in suburban or agricultural areas, and also mixed woods filled with mistle toe plantations
Lifespan of Adults 4-10 days
Host plant American Mistletoe
Adult diet Nectar from various flowers like shepherd’s needle, Hercules club, wild plum, golden rod, and sweet pepper brush

Did You Know

During the United States’ Declaration of Independence, the Colony of Virginia sent these species to Europe.

Great Purple Hairstreak Butterfly Images
Great Purple Hairstreak Host Plant
The Great Purple Hairstreak

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Lycaenidae
  • Genus: Atlides
  • Scientific Name: Atlides halesus
Published by Poppy Glendening on June 10, 2019.
Last Updated: October 15, 2023. ✅ Verified by: Butterfly Team