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State Insects,
Butterflies, and Bugs
State Insects, Butterflies, and Bugs

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Colorado State Insect

Colorado Hairstreak ButterflyColorado State Insect - Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly

(Hypaurotis crysalus)

Adopted in 1996.

The Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly (Hypaurotis crysalus) is a montane butterfly native to oak scrubland in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It was designated the state insect of Colorado in 1996.

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 for submission 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.

Colorado State Insect: Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly

Colorado State Insect - Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly

The Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly (Hypaurotis crysalus) is a montane butterfly native to oak scrubland in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.

The Colorado hairstreak can usually be found in areas where its host plant, Gambel's oak (Quercus gambelii, family Fagaceae), is common. The adults lay eggs singly on oak leaves or bark in late summer to early fall; the eggs then overwinter. The caterpillars emerge from the eggs in early spring and feed on the Gambel's oak leaves as they develop. The larval stages of this butterfly have never been described, which is unusual for such a well-known butterfly. There is one generation per year and adults can be found from June through August. Adult butterflies feed on tree sap, raindrops, and aphid honeydew.

The Colorado hairstreak is one of North America's most beautiful butterflies. Its coloration is purple with a wide black-to-brown border containing orange spots. Like many other hairstreak species, adult Colorado hairstreaks have a "tail" emerging from the lower portion of each hind wings.

Characteristics of the Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly

Colorado Hairstreak (Hypaurotis crysalus [W. H. Edwards])

Wing span: 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 inches (3.2 - 3.8 cm).

Identification: Hindwing has slender tail. Upperside dark purple with wide dark border and orange spots at lower outer edge of each wing.

Life history: Adults rest in Gambel oaks, and males patrol there for receptive females. Eggs are laid singly on twigs of the host tree, then hibernate. Caterpillars eat young leaves in spring.

Flight: One flight from June-August.

Caterpillar hosts: Leaves of oaks, particularly Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii) in the beech family (Fagaceae).

Adult food: Tree sap, raindrops, probably honeydew from aphids and other insects.

Habitat: Oak scrub and oak woodlands.

Range: Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico; north into southern Wyoming, west into eastern Nevada.

Colorado SENATE BILL 96-122

SENATE BILL 96-122
BY SENATORS Weddig, Rupert, Alexander, Casey, Feeley, Martinez, Matsunaka, Pascoe, Perlmutter, L. Powers, Rizzuto, Tanner, Thiebaut, and Hopper; also REPRESENTATIVES Armstrong, Acquafresca, Congrove, Epps, Gordon, Hagedorn, Kaufman, Keller, Kerns, Knox, Lamm, McElhany, Reeves, Saliman, Tool, Clarke, Lyle, Mace, and Prinster.

AN ACT
CONCERNING THE ADOPTION OF THE COLORADO HAIRSTREAK, A BUTTERFLY, AS THE STATE INSECT.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Colorado:
SECTION 1. Legislative declaration. (1) The general assembly hereby inds and declares that:

(a) Insects outnumber all other species of plants and animals combined and play a vital role in the daily lives and welfare of people and the environment;
(b) Insects verify the importance of a healthy ecosystem and the value of
conserving our natural wildlife heritage;
(c) Colorado is home to one of the most diverse populations of butterflies in the United States;
(d) The Colorado hairstreak, a butterfly, is native to Colorado, having a relatively narrow range of habitat, and is aesthetically appealing in color and design;
(e) The Colorado hairstreak is not injurious to agriculture, and it is not endangered.
(f) The Colorado hairstreak is associated with gambel oak populations on both the eastern and western slopes of the state;
(g) The Colorado hairstreak enjoys the overwhelming support of more than one Ch. 87 Government - State hundred entomologists surveyed in Colorado as their first choice for designation as the state insect;
(h) The Colorado hairstreak has inspired school children in Colorado to research and promote its designation as the state insect; and
(i) Colorado, unlike thirty-five other states, has not yet designated a state insect.
(2) It is therefore the intent of the general assembly that the Colorado hairstreak be added to the array of symbols that demonstrate our state character and pride.

SECTION 2. Part 9 of article 80 of title 24, Colorado Revised Statutes, 1988
Repl. Vol., as amended, is amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION to read:

24-80-913. State insect. THE COLORADO HAIRSTREAK (HYPAUROTIS CRYSALUS), A BUTTERFLY, IS HEREBY MADE AND DECLARED TO BE THE STATE INSECT OF THE STATE OF COLORADO.

SECTION 3. Effective date. This act shall take effect at 12:01 a.m. on the day
following the expiration of the ninety-day period after final adjournment of the
general assembly that is allowed for submitting a referendum petition pursuant to article V, section 1 (3) of the state constitution; except that, if a referendum petition is filed against this act or an item, section, or part of this act within such period, then the act, item, section, or part, if approved by the people, shall take effect on the date of the official declaration of the vote thereon by proclamation of the governor.
Approved: April 17, 1996

Colorado Law

The law designating the Colorado hairstreak as the official Colorado state insect is found in the COLORADO REVISED STATUTES reflecting changes current through all laws passed at the First Regular Session of the Seventieth General Assembly of the State of Colorado (2015)

COLORADO REVISED STATUTES
TITLE 24. GOVERNMENT - STATE
STATE HISTORY, ARCHIVES, AND EMBLEMS
ARTICLE 80.STATE HISTORY, ARCHIVES, AND EMBLEMS
PART 9. STATE EMBLEMS AND SYMBOLS

C.R.S. 24-80-913 (2015)

24-80-913. State insect

The Colorado hairstreak (hypaurotis crysalus), a butterfly, is hereby made and declared to be the state insect of the state of Colorado.

HISTORY: Source: L. 96: Entire section added, p. 345, § 2, effective August 7 .

Cross references: For the legislative declaration contained in the 1996 act enacting this section, see section 1 of chapter 87, Session Laws of Colorado 1996.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly

Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
Phylum: Arthropoda (Arthropods)
    Subphylum: Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class: Insecta (Insects)
Order: Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily: Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
    Family: Lycaenidae (Blues, Coppers, Hairstreaks, Harvesters)
        Subfamily: Theclinae (Hairstreaks)
Tribe: Theclini
Genus: Hypaurotis
Species: crysalus (Colorado Hairstreak)

State Insects,
Butterflies, and Bugs
State Insects,
State insects are selected by 45 states of the 50 United States. Some states have more than one designated insect, or have multiple categories (e.g., state insect and state butterfly, etc.).
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