Skip, Skip, Skip to My Lou

No, I don’t have an emergency need to rush to the rest room (loo). If that were the case I would be running, not skipping.  I’m here to talk skipper butterflies (Family Hesperiidae)…particularly grass skippers (Subfamily Hesperiinae).  They are called grass skippers because the larval host is various grasses.Sachem on Bidens alba (September 2013)

Sachem on Bidens alba (September 2013)

Grass skippers such as the Sachem can be very hard to distinguish because, according to Twitter pal @AndyBugGuy, entomologist extraordinaire (with a focus on skippers), “Ventral color is quite variable depending on sex and season”.

Skippers get along well with others (from January 2015) Exotic Honeybee shares Bidens alba with Sachem Skipper Butterfly
Skippers get along well with others (from January 2015) Exotic Honeybee shares Bidens alba with Sachem Skipper Butterfly

Thus, you might be confident of identification in summer, only to be stumped when winter rolls around (they fly year round here in Florida).  I’ve found Andy’s website http://butterfliesofamerica.com/ quite helpful when comparing my photos since he has both pinned specimens and live specimen photos for all species.

Of course not every other species plays nice, but hey, the Green Lynx Spider needs to eat!
Of course not every other species plays nice, but hey, the Green Lynx Spider needs to eat!

So, slowly I work on my identifications.  Here are six identified species that visit my place.  Whirlabout Skipper Butterfly (Polites vibex) taken this month nectaring at Bidens alba.

Whirlabout Skipper Butterfly (Polites vibex) taken this month nectaring at Bidens alba.

Here’s a mating pair of Whirlabouts from March 2014 on some sort of grass.

Mating Whirlabout Skipper Butterflies (Polites vibex)
Mating Whirlabout Skipper Butterflies (Polites vibex)

Sachem Skipper Butterfly (Atalopedes campestris) taken last month (male):

Sachem from August 2015 on Bidens alba
Sachem from August 2015 on Bidens alba

Fiery Skipper Butterfly (Hylephila phyleus) from September 2013 on Bidens alba:

Fiery Skipper Butterfly (Hylephila phyleus)

From August 2013: Delaware Skipper Butterfly (Anatrytone logan) on Florida Native Plant Carolina Redroot (Lachnanthes caroliana):

skipper4bugguideAug2013A
Southern Skipperling (Copaeodes minima) from June 2011 is laying eggs on the grass.  This is the smallest North American skipper:

skipperling062511

Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola) visiting Goldenrod (Solidago sp.):

ocolaskipperGoldenrodSept2013

So, grab your camera and some patience and get out there and identify your grass skippers!

They feed crab spiders too!
Food Chain in action.  They feed crab spiders too!

note: Topmost photo is Whirlabout dorsal view from September 2013

 

Resources:

Florida Museum of Natural History

Butterfliesandmoths.org

Bugguide.net

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9 thoughts on “Skip, Skip, Skip to My Lou”

    1. Thanks Carol! I was a bit nervous about the populations of skippers this year, but October is proving to be the month they are prolific! Thanks for stopping by and your kind words 🙂

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  1. Beautiful photography, and as usual, you have taught me something! I confess to being lazy this year in Skipper ID..too much work..So, I commend your efforts. A most excellent blog!

    Liked by 1 person

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