Butterfly Briefs: Skippers (family Hesperiidae)
The Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) is a common and conspicuous butterfly that flies from spring to fall. The large, bright white mark on the underside of their hindwing makes them a relatively easy butterfly to identify. Adult males are often territorial, quickly pursuing males and females (and often other insects) that pass by their perch to chase the males away and to try to mate with the females.
Adult Silver-spotted Skippers get nectar from flowers and the caterpillars feed on legume plants like locust trees.
For more about the Silver-spotted Skipper, visit www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Epargyreus-clarus
The Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) is a small, bright orange skipper butterfly. Many of the skippers can be hard to tell apart from one another, but the scattered dark spots on the underside and the “flame” edges of the upperside help distinguish Fiery Skippers from other small, orange skippers. Females are not as bright orange overall and have a different pattern on their upperside, but usually still have the scattered dark spots on the underside.
Like other skippers, the Fiery Skipper quickly darts from flower to flower and males quickly pursue passing butterflies and other insects, making them hard to keep track of as they move around a garden. They have a wide range, occurring in both North and South America. They recolonize our region of the U.S. every year from the south, but their migration is not well understood. Fiery Skippers are most abundant in late summer and early fall in the Midwest.
Fiery Skipper aterpillars feed on a number of different grass species including crabgrass. The adults get nectar from a wide variety of flowers.
For more about the Fiery Skipper, visit mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/fiery-skipper
The Northern Broken-Dash (Wallengrenia egeremet) is a small, dark brown skipper butterfly found in open areas near woods. Above, their forewings have a small orange area on the leading edge with light spots in the middle of the wing. Below, their hindwings have a smudged line of spots, sometimes in the shape of a “3”. As with many of the skipper butterflies, they can be difficult to distinguish from similar-looking species.
The adults can be found in July and August getting nectar from a variety of flowers. Their caterpillars feed on Panicum sp. (panic grasses).
For more about the Northern Broken-Dash, visit www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Wallengrenia-egeremet