Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Skipper Skool

Butterflies are in full swing now, so this is your opportunity to get out there and see something new. Just like a big kid, I am drawn to the flashy display of the swallowtails- the big showy beasts of the lepidopteran world. But there are plenty of skippers worth learning as well.

Little Glassywing, Pompeius verna

Little Glassywing is a folded-wing skipper in the gray to black range, and that pattern of clear patches make it recognizable. The fem. Dun, Northern Broken Dash and Little Glassywing are often found together and called "The Three Witches."

"Skipper's all look the same..." is the common complaint. But it is just not true. Take that extra moment to look at pattern, color and the way the skipper holds it wings. Start by sorting skippers into "folded wing" or "spread wing species."

Delaware Skipper, Anatrytone delaware

Topside looks a bit like the Hobomok skipper- but the brighter orange color was the first clue to this species. Underside, there is no comparison, Delaware is plain orange, where the Hobomok has large patches of color. Not a common skipper, but found in wet-to-damp areas.

Artic Skipper, Carterocephalus palaemon

Ding, ding, ding, now the true butterfliers' heads are spinning off their necks! This is a sub-artic species of the boreal forest- one I recently saw in Michigan. The point being: NOTHING else looks like an Artic! Those spots are so bold and dashing- this guy is a standout in the Skipper world- a regular George Clooney!

Other Butterfly news:

Harris's Checkerspot, Charidryas harisii.

NOT a Skipper, but another smallish orange to black butterfly. This too was taken in the U.P. of Michigan, but we should (or once did) have populations in Ohio. All our wetland species are in trouble, not surprising as we continue to drain away some of the best natural areas of Ohio.

Its host plant is Flat-topped Aster, so now you can be on the look-out for a rare butterfly in Ohio.

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