Hessel’s hairstreak butterfly in Maine

This butterfly is struggling in Maine and elsewhere

An AI of a Hessel's hairstreak butterfly

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If you find yourself in Maine, you may have the good luck of seeing a Hessel’s hairstreak butterfly flitting from flower to flower or flying through the air. You can’t miss them: They sport large chestnut and white wings that look as though they have been dipped in bright emerald glitter.

(Note: they’re uncommon enough that we weren’t able to obtain the right photo, so we asked AI to do it. It’s a reasonable facsimile of a hairstreak.)

The Hessel’s hairstreak is a rare gem and truly nature’s masterpiece.

The hairstreak is hurting

These insects are as beautiful as they are necessary for local ecosystems. Butterflies are crucial in maintaining the health and beauty of parks, gardens and farms through pollination. Because butterflies are considered environmental indicators, i.e. their presence indicates a healthy environment and their absence signals environmental degradation, ecologists in Maine rely on the Hessel’s hairstreak and its cousins to study the ecosystem’s overall health. 

Due to habitat loss and degradation, urban development, and pesticides, this butterfly is now listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the Maine State Wildlife Action Plan. The state plans to increase habitat conservation and protect the Atlantic White Cedar tree that Hairstreak caterpillars feeds on. It also wants to improve existing conservation policies, raise public awareness, research, track and monitor species on the plan.

Doing all this takes funding. 

Hagerty, Ryan, USFWS | Public Domain
The moose is also on the Maine wildlife action plan

Recovering America’s Wildlife Act 

We are working to convince Congress to pass Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, a wildlife bill that would give each state new resources to restore habitat, control invasive species, reconnect landscapes, and much more. With $1.4 billion divided annually, this bill would ensure that Maine can follow through on its wildlife plan and save the Hairstreak butterfly along with many other endangered species in the state.

It would also help every other state in their own missions to preserve nature. Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is a game changer for America’s wildlife.

We applaud U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King of Maine for their early leadership on this bill, and we encourage them to keep pushing the measure through Congress. With their help, we can help the Hessel’s hairstreak butterfly (as well as the 400+ other species on the state’s plan), protect Maine’s ecosystems and help wildlife numbers begin to recover. 


Steve Blackledge

Senior Director, Conservation America Campaign, Environment America

Steve directs Environment America’s efforts to protect our public lands and waters and the species that depend on them. He led our successful campaign to win full and permanent funding for our nation’s best conservation and recreation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. He previously oversaw U.S. PIRG’s public health campaigns. Steve lives in Sacramento, California, with his family, where he enjoys biking and exploring Northern California.

Zoe Garderet

Wildlife Intern

Zoe Garderet is a senior at Tufts University and a wildlife intern for Environment America, based in Boston, Massachusetts.

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