Callophrys Mcfarlandi

The Sandia Hairstreak (Callophrys mcfarlandi) is the State Butterfly of New Mexico occurring in 24 of the state’s 33 counties.  It also occurs in southeastern Colorado, west Texas and into northeastern Mexico.  It was originally described in 1960 from a specimen taken in the Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque. The wing span ranges from 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 inches.

The underside of the wings are a beautiful golden-green with a white line bordered with black toward the base of the wing.  The upperside of the wing in the male is brown, female is reddish-brown with a narrow black border. The larval food plant is Beargrass (Nolina species) in the Agave Gamily (Agavaceae) where the caterpillars feed on the flowers and fruits.  Caterpillars are widely colored ranging from pink to maroon to green.  Flights (emergence from the cocoon) occurs from early spring to early summer with occasional second flights in late summer.

Habitat is dry hillsides with Beargrass.  At times this is the most abundant spring butterfly within its range.  Adults are more active in the morning and retreat to the base of Beargrass at night.  The species is well adapted to droughts.