Rare, iridescent butterfly spotted in a Delaware swamp

There are 120 species of butterfly that live and breed in Delaware, according to The Nature Conservancy. The list just grew by one more.

The tiny Hessel’s Hairstreak butterfly is about as big as your thumb, with a wingspan of barely an inch. Its wings shimmer with iridescent flecks of emerald green against brown. It is extremely rare, living almost exclusively in Atlantic white cedar swamps.

The hairstreak has not been spotted on the Delmarva Peninsula since 1995, when Dr. Christopher Heckscher, an entomologist with Delaware State University, spotted one. He was surprised to see it again 27 years later, on land protected by The Nature Conservancy in southern Delaware.

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