Currently viewing the category: "Skippers"
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Damselfly and a… Skipper?
Location: Parksville, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
November 27, 2011 4:05 am
Hi Bugman! Just wanted to let you know how much I love your site. I was reading your NRAs and was thoroughly amused by how little patience people have. Why, I didn’t get a response from my inquiry 4 years ago, and I’ve never ranted about it! Unfortunately, I’ve lost the pictures, but they were small, grey larvae with casings that were stuck to the wall. The casings were made of… lint and dust, if you can believe that. Could they have been resourceful bagworm larvae that found novel building materials?

Arctic Skipper

The pictures I’m posting are ones that I took spring/summer 2009, on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, in Parksville, B.C. The first is a damselfly (a blue?) I found casually devouring a sand flea. It was quite confident, and only departed one perch before deciding I could watch it finish its meal. The next two are of a Lepidopteran, which I’d really like an identification of. From its appearance and its flight pattern, I thought that it might be a skipper. The pictures really are as close as you might think; it let me get almost up to its face, and even graced me a few lovely poses before darting off. The photos are just a tiny bit blurry; my camera’s not good with closeups. If you’d like, I have more pictures to send!
Signature: Geoff

Arctic Skipper

Hi Geoff,
We have so many things to address in your letter.  First, we are happy to hear you are not holding a grudge regarding an unanswered email from four years ago, and even though there is not photo, we believe you are describing Case Bearing Moth Larvae, common insects found in homes.  We are very excited about your photos, as we believe they are the first submissions we have ever posted of an Arctic Skipper, Carterocephalus palaemon, which we identified in Jeffrey Glassberg’s excellent book Butterflies Through Binoculars The West where it is noted they are:  “marked rather like a miniature fritillary.”  BugGuide lists the range as:  “Central Alaska south to central California, south in the Rocky Mountains to northwest Wyoming, east across the Great Lakes states to New York and New England. Eurasia” and the habitat as:  “Glades and openings in heavily forested woods, moist meadows, and streamsides.”  We cannot determine the species identity of your Damselfly, but it makes a nice addition to our Food Chain tag.

Damselfly eats Sand Flea

Hi Bugman!
Thanks for your quick reply. It pleases me greatly that I was able to provide something new to your site.
I’m attaching 3 more pictures: the first is a full profile shot of the damselfly (hopefully, it might help with the identification); the second one is a close up of a cluster of spiderlings, probably of Argiope aurantia? The final one is of a jumping spider. Not technically bugs (or even insects!), but I thought I might send it in. All pictures were taken the same place as the skipper, along a rocky beach.
By the way, regarding the proposed case bearing moths, it was in Hong Kong that they were found (my friend took those original photos).
Geoff

Geoff,
please just one species per submission.  Also, could you use the standard form?
ask-whats-that-bug/
I wreaks havoc with our system to continue a dialog through email if that dialog requires a new posting.  We like to keep each post as a unique species.
Thanks
Daniel
P.S.  Case bearing moth larvae are found worldwide

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Black butterfly with red necklace and stoplights
Location: Tampico, Tamaulipas, México
October 21, 2011 2:02 pm
Hi!
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?
Signature: Rexnatus

Guava Skipper

Dear Rexnatus,
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.

Guava Skipper

Correction courtesy of Karl
Re: Firetip Skipper from Mexico – October 21, 2011
Hi Daniel:
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.

 

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Erynnis funeralis?
Location: Hawthorne, CA
October 17, 2011 3:35 pm
Hi Daniel,
It was good to finally meet you this past Saturday at the Lummis House. We enjoyed your talk very much and are thankful that you give of your time in so many ways. We wish our Iowa cousins had not left early that same morning, as we are sure they would have enjoyed seeing the Lummis House. They are also bug enthusiasts.
While watching your presentation, we noticed many butterflies flitting about behind you and I had to control myself! My usual response is to immediately get up and head in the general direction of any bug. We also spotted what husband Marty thinks is a Cooper’s Hawk. Are they local to that area?
Saturday morning I spotted what I think is a Funereal Duskywing feeding on the Mexican Sunflowers in my yard. Am I correct?
Signature: Thanks, Anna Carreon

Funereal Duskywing

Hi Anna,
It was very nice meeting you and Marty on Saturday.  We really enjoy getting to meet our internet friends at public events.  Another contributor, Barbara from South Pasadena also introduced herself.  Marty was correct.  We do have Cooper’s Hawks in the neighborhood.  At our Mt Washington offices, when the mourning doves are searching for seeds in the yard, Cooper’s Hawks frequently view the flocks as smorgasbords.  We agree that this is a Funereal Duskywing, though we would not totally rule out the related Mournful Duskywing,
Erynnis tristis, that is also found in this area.  The Butterflies and Moths of North America has a nice description of the Funereal Duskywing.

Funereal Duskywing

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for the response.  I did check out the Mournful Duskywing but still think that my photo is of a Funereal Duskywing.  It was very dark in coloring.  I could be wrong, though (wouldn’t be the first time).  Just happy to find yet another “new to us” bug in our small back yard.  Thanks also for answering Marty’s question about the Cooper’s Hawk.  We have Red Tailed Hawks here in Hawthorne.  Yes, hawks in Hawthorne.  They also look at the mourning doves as smorgasbords.  What a great description!
Anna

 

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Crab Spider? eating a skipper?
Location: Charleston, SC
September 19, 2011 12:15 pm
This was photographed just outside of Charleston, SC in a monastery called Mepkin Abbey. I found these two in small purple flowers growing along one of their many paths.
Signature: Steven

Crab Spider Eats Skipper

Hi Steven,
Your photo of a Crab Spider in the family Thomisidae feeding on a Skipper in the family Hesperiidae is an excellent addition to our Food Chain tag.  This is at least the fourth entry we have received documenting this particular predator/prey combination.  Crab Spiders are hunting spiders that do not spin a web, and several species are typically found hiding well camouflaged in blossoms awaiting hapless pollinating insects including Skippers.  Skippers are butterflies that are typically considered to be a transitional family between butterflies and moths, and they get their common name from their quick, darting flight.

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The bugman is awesome (and I need an ID)
Location: Northeast Tennessee
September 4, 2011 11:09 pm
Hey there! Your site has already helped me identify the house centipede. I’d like to know what exactly this is… growing up on a farm I’ve encountered a lot of these. My grandma always called these ”chicken poo butterflies” because they seem to have a fondness for the stuff. I was taking pictures in her flower garden one day and I came across one.
PS along with the moth/butterfly I’ve attached a photo I took of a praying mantis egg sac (I don’t know what you call it, just that mantises lay their eggs in it, I think)last December. I thought it looked neat and wanted to know if that was actually what it was.
Signature: Easily Fascinated

Silver Spotted Skipper

Dear Easily Fascinated,
When we read your letter, we immediately imagined an insect with the description you provided, and we thought for sure you would have a photo of a Pearly Wood Nymph, a moth that truly resembles chicken droppings.  This is actually a butterfly known as a Silver Spotted Skipper, 
Epargyreus clarus, and you may see additional photos on the Massachusetts Butterfly Club website.  You have correctly identified the Preying Mantis ootheca or egg case.

Preying Mantis Ootheca

 


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Skippers
Location: northern NJ
August 12, 2011 9:06 am
Can you identify the skippers in this picture?
Signature: kelli

Grass Skipper

Hi Kelli,
Sadly, we cannot.  We were recently asked by a writer conducting an interview which group we find the most difficult to identify, and without flinching, we responded the Dragonflies.  There are numerous insects that we do not have the necessary skills to identify to the species level, and Skippers are very high on the list.  Considering the documented number of species of these cheerful little butterflies that are often considered as transitional between butterflies and moths, Skippers might even top the list of difficult species for us.  It seems there are hundreds of like colored Skipper species, and we cannot even begin to claim to be able to answer your question.  According to Ask.Com:  “In North America, about 275 species have been described, with the bulk of them living in Texas and Arizona.”  Your photo is quite lovely and it appears there may be two different species.  The lower individual is, in our opinion, a Grass Skipper in the subfamily Hesperiinae, and you can browse BugGuide for its possible identity.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination