Black butterfly with red necklace and stoplights
Location: Tampico, Tamaulipas, México
October 21, 2011 2:02 pm
I recently took this outside of a classroom. This fellow (about 4 inches wingspan) was quietly showing off its colors. What struck me is that it looks like the x-ray of a butterly because of the iridiscent strays on the wings and body. I’ll bet this guy is very popular under an ultraviolet light. Any clue to this dark flier’s identity?
Before even beginning any research, we realized this was a Skipper, a group of butterflies in the family Hesperiidae that are typically classified as the link between butterflies and moths. Skippers are characterized by very rapid flight. Most North American species are small and drably colored, but often with metallic markings. Tropical Skippers are larger and more colorful. Our first attempt at identification quickly led us to a photo taken by Nelson Dobbs identified as the Red Collared Firetip, Elbella patarobasi. Searching that genus name, we then found the Red Collared Firetip identified as Elbella scylla on the Neotropical Butterflies website. Thumbnails of the entire Pyrrhopyginae subfamily, called Firetips probably because of the red tipped abdomen so many of them sport, led us to the closest match yet, the Pionia Firetip, Amenis pionia, and the specimen in the photograph was from Brazil. While we still do not believe we have a species identification, here is what we believe we have identified. We believe your Skipper is in the Firetip subfamily Pyrrhopyginae, and that is might be in the genus Amenis. We cannot say for certain if your species lacks the fiery tip on the abdomen, or if it is hidden by the wings, or if only males or only females sport the red abdominal Firetip.
Ed. Note: Neotropical Butterflies is our new favorite website.
Correction courtesy of Karl
Re: Firetip Skipper from Mexico – October 21, 2011
In most respects it does look like a Firetip Skipper, but I believe this is actually a Guava Skipper (Phocides polybius [=palemon]), a remarkably similar Spread-winged Skipper (family Pyrginae). Here it is on the Neotropical Butterflies site and on Butterflies of America. It ranges from Southern Texas to Argentina.. Regards. Karl
Thanks so much for making this correction Karl.