Skippers: All You Need to Know for a Smooth Sailing Adventure

Sailing the open seas can be a thrilling experience, but to make the most of it, you need a skilled skipper on board. Skippers play a crucial role in ensuring a safe and enjoyable adventure for everyone involved. In this article, we’ll explore the essentials you need to know about these marine professionals and how they can make a difference in your boating experience.

A skipper is the person in charge of a vessel, responsible for the safety of the crew, passengers, and the boat itself. They navigate the waters, taking into consideration the weather and sea conditions while making important decisions. As a skipper, you’ll be required to have extensive knowledge of maritime rules, regulations, and safety procedures to ensure smooth sailing.

Some skippers work on charter boats, offering their expertise to tourists and sailing enthusiasts. Others might be employed by boat owners or companies, transporting cargo or providing specific services. No matter the setting, a skipper’s role is essential in creating a secure and enjoyable journey for all on board.

Basics of Skippers

Understanding Skippers

Skippers are small- to medium-sized butterflies that often look halfway between moths and other butterflies. They typically have club-tipped antennae and can be quite colorful, especially those with intricate markings or an orange hue. Like most butterflies, they visit flowers and are active during the day1.

While observing skippers, you might notice their unique flight pattern. Their quick, darting movements are where they get their name – they appear to “skip” through the air.

Skippers in the United States

In the United States, one notable species of skipper is the Dakota Skipper (Hesperia dacotae)2. These small, orange and brown butterflies can be found in isolated, scattered locations throughout Minnesota, the Dakotas, and southern Canada3.

Unfortunately, the Dakota Skipper has been lost from areas like Illinois and Iowa due to habitat changes4. Conservation efforts are taking place to help preserve and promote their growth in remaining habitats.

Skippers in India

India is home to not only numerous butterfly species but also several skipper species. Some common Indian skippers include the Indian Grizzled Skipper, the Indian Palm Bob, and the Common Banded Awl. These skippers can be found in various habitats, including forests, grasslands, and gardens.

Comparing skippers in the United States and India:

Attribute United States India
Notable Species Dakota Skipper Indian Grizzled Skipper, Indian Palm Bob, Common Banded Awl
Habitat Grasslands, isolated, scattered locations Forests, grasslands, gardens

Tourists and locals alike can appreciate this diverse and fascinating group of butterflies, whether you’re visiting a national park in the United States or exploring the rich biodiversity of India.

Becoming a Skipper

As an aspiring skipper, it’s crucial to be aware of some key aspects to help you succeed in your journey. Skippers, also known as Epargyreus clarus, are stout-bodied, day-flying butterflies. They have unique characteristics, such as small wings and antennae with a club-like tip.

To become a skipper, you’ll need to have a keen eye for detail. Skippers often display subtle markings, which can be crucial in identifying the specific species. For example, the silver-spotted skipper has a large white spot on the underside of each hind wing.

Here are some important points to keep in mind as you become a skipper expert:

  • Skippers are found across North America
  • Learn to identify their preferred habitats
  • Understand their role in the ecosystem

In your journey, you may encounter various types of skippers like the Carson wandering skipper and the Dakota Skipper. Knowing these skippers’ specific traits will help you contribute valuable information to conservation efforts.

Comparison Table

Feature Silver-spotted Skipper Carson Wandering Skipper Dakota Skipper
Size Large Small Medium
Pattern White spot on hind wing Tawny orange Dark Brown
Antennae Club-tipped Club-tipped Club-tipped
Preferred Habitat Most of North America Grasslands; alkaline areas; Nevada, California Prairies; Midwest U.S., Canada

Remember to be responsible when observing and interacting with these beautiful creatures. Enjoy your journey as you become an expert in the fascinating world of skippers!

Role of Skippers in Different Regions

Region Specific Skippers

Skippers are a diverse group of butterflies found in various regions worldwide. These fascinating creatures play essential roles in their respective ecosystems. In this section, we will explore specific Skippers and their importance in different regions.

In North America, the Dakota Skipper is found in prairie habitats, including moist areas dominated by bluestem grass species and mesic upland prairies. They contribute to the pollination process of wildflowers such as wood lily, harebell, and smooth camas.

The Woodland Skipper is native to Oregon and most of the western United States. They are an abundant butterfly species, and prefer grassy areas in their habitat. As pollinators, they contribute to the health and growth of plants in the areas they inhabit.

In the Midwest and eastern parts of the United States, the Silver Spotted Skipper is one of the largest and most widespread skippers. They are essential pollinators, helping boost plant diversity and providing food for other animals, such as birds and insects.

Over in California, a variety of skippers fall into the Hesperiidae family, including spread-wing skippers, folded-wing skippers, and Heteropterinae. You’ll often find them in grassy or shrubby areas, where they help with pollination and serve as prey for larger predators.

To sum it up, Skippers play a vital role in maintaining the ecological balance in their respective regions. By pollinating plants and serving as food for predators, they help maintain a healthy and diverse environment for other organisms to thrive in.

Navigating Skipper Websites

When you’re looking for information on skippers, there are several websites you can explore. In this section, we’ll guide you through utilizing TripAdvisor for skippers and how to navigate the website effectively.

Utilizing TripAdvisor for Skippers

TripAdvisor is a popular travel platform that also provides information on skipper-related activities such as sailboat rentals, excursions, and guided tours. To maximize your experience, follow these tips:

  1. Search for Skippers: Start by typing “skippers” or your specific skipper-related interest into the search bar. This will bring up a list of relevant results for you to browse through.

  2. Filter Your Results: Utilize the drop-down menu and various filters provided by TripAdvisor to narrow down your search. You can sort the results by relevance, rating, distance, and more, allowing you to find the perfect match for your skipper needs.

  3. Read Reviews: Be sure to take a moment to read the reviews left by other users. This will give you an idea of the quality of service, as well as any potential downsides, making it easier for you to make an informed decision.

  4. Compare Options: Don’t be afraid to compare different skipper-related activities, services, and providers by:

    • Price
    • Location
    • Duration
    • Ratings and reviews

Comparing your options will ensure that you get the best experience possible when choosing a skipper-related activity.

Remember, TripAdvisor is only one of many websites that offer information on skippers and related activities. Still, by following these tips and utilizing the resources available, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect skipper experience tailored just for you.

Communicating as a Skipper

As a skipper, effective communication is crucial in ensuring your boat operates smoothly and safely. To improve your communication skills, start by familiarizing yourself with the basic nautical terminology. This way you can relay information among your crew members with ease.

  • Learn to give clear and concise instructions. For example, “Adjust the sails, please” instead of a vague command like “Do something about the sails.”
  • Use a speaker system onboard to ensure everybody hears the instructions effectively. Alternatively, consider investing in waterproof crew radios.

Develop clear hand signals when verbal communication is not possible due to wind or engine noise. For example:

  • Pointing up with a closed fist for raising sails
  • Thumbs down for lowering sails
  • Waving hand forward towards the bow for moving forward

Maintain a positive and friendly tone when communicating with your crew. Encourage them to ask questions if they don’t understand any instructions. Additionally, keep your patience during critical situations, showing confidence and reassurance, as your crew will be looking to you for guidance.

Active listening is also vital for effective communication. When a crew member is speaking, focus on their input and acknowledge it. This will strengthen the bond among crew members and ensure a more enjoyable and productive boating experience.

Footnotes

  1. Missouri Department of Conservation – Skippers

  2. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Dakota Skipper

  3. Dakota Skipper Habitat

  4. Loss of Dakota Skipper in Illinois and Iowa

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – The most beautiful caterpillar in the world from Kenya

 

Caterpillar found in Africa
Subject: Caterpillar found in Africa
Location: Kenya, Africa
November 29, 2011 9:24 pm
I am wondering what kind of butterfly this would turn into, and what the species of caterpillar is.
Signature: Lauren

Beautiful Caterpillar from Kenya is Skipper

Hi Lauren,
This is just about the most beautiful Caterpillar we have ever seen.  We don’t know what it is but the head reminds us of a Skipper Caterpillar.  Most Skipper Caterpillars we have seen have green bodies, though coloration has very little to do with genera classification.  We actually prefer not to research this at the moment because we want to spend some time imagining what the butterfly (and we really believe this is a butterfly) would look like upon metamorphosis.

Letter 2 – Two Banded Skipper

 

i don’t think you have one of these on your website
location:  Boulder, Colorado
May 13, 2012
hi there,
i have been so excited to be seeing these two banded checkered skippers this year. they are considered uncommon so it is even more fun to see them. i have seen 9 so far this spring here in the mountains west of boulder colorado. i started seeing them in mid april and still saw one flying on may 10th. i am seeing them on the old switzerland trail about a mile in from the peak to peak hwy. 6 miles north of nederland. i had to rescue one who was dehydrated. i put him on the damp gravel next to a small puddle and he got his drink and was fine. i am pretty certain of his id as i have gotten some nice photo’s of the ventral side as well as the dorsal. he has the redish color on the ventral that distinguishes him from the mountain checkered skipper. anyway i hope you can use this photo on your sight. i so love your website and appreciate what you are doing.
thanks so  much, venice kelly
oh i forgot to say how tiny these butterflies are. they are about 5/8 of an inch. so the photo is quite enlarged.

Two-Banded Checkered Skipper

Hi Venice,
Thanks so much for sending us your photo of a Two-Banded Checkered Skipper,
Pyrgus ruralis.  According to BugGuide:  “Inconspicuous, usually local and uncommon. Flies in the northwestern U.S. reaching to southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Flies in Canada reaching only in Alberta north to Nordegg, southern British Columbia north to Yoho National Park, and on southern and central Vancouver Island.”  If you can send us the photo of the underside, we will post it as well.

hi daniel
here is the ventral view of the two banded checkered skipper. such a pretty little thing.
so glad you can use the photo’s on your web site.
thanks so much, venice

Two Banded Skipper

Letter 3 – Butterflies and Skippers

 

We have been trying unsuccessfully all summer to photograph the swallowtails in our yard at the What’s That Bug? headquarters. They fly lazily above the plants, landing for brief moments whenever we don’t have our camera. The minute we get the camera, they refuse to land. One morning in August, we finally photographed this Anise Swallowtail, Papilio zeliacaon, feeding from a zinnia.

Letter 4 – Butterflies and Skippers

 

Bugman,
Thanks for the quick reply on the beetle pic I sent out to you. It was interesting info… Now, I thought I would hit up your butterfly knowledge with this skipper sp. that me and my buddy have photographed at work. The shot is from Bradenton, Manatee County, Florida, which is just south of Tampa Bay. This skipper is typically seen on the edge of a small, usually wet wooded area next to our headquarters building. The best I could do with it was say it is a Grass Skipper…I am hoping that it may be possibly a Three-spotted Skipper or a Eufala Skipper, both of which, according to the NPWRC website would be first county records for Manatee County. I won’t be surprised when I get your reply that so-and-so butterfly expert will say this is a Sachem or some other common Skipper…
Thanks again,
Colin Gjervold
Sarasota, Fl


Hi Colin,
Sorry for the delay. Here is what I found out from Weiping at the Natural History Museum. This skipper is Cymaenes tripunctus.

Letter 5 – Dull Firetip Skipper

 

Dull Firetip Skipper and website suggestion
Hi. THANKS for your great site. It is my favorite website on the internet. I have a photo of Dull Firetip Skipper (Pyrrhopyge araxes) that I think you might like. It was photographed at Harshaw Creek, AZ. I believe that this is a new species to your site. I also have a suggestion. I think that a page devoted to Black Witches on your site would be good. Thanks.
Noah

Hi Noah,
We really appreciate your kind letter and the photo of the Dull Firetip Skipper, which we are guessing was photographed in 2005 based on the file name. Often when we get website suggestions, we cringe because people are trying to suggest things that are incredibly labor intense. Your suggestion of a Black Witch page is easily manageable. We will need to find old entries from the archives, but amusingly, a new letter with photos just arrived.

Letter 6 – CORRECTION: Guava Skipper from Mexico

 

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.

 

Letter 7 – Hayhurst's Scallopwing

 

ID please
Daniel, I haven’t sent in a req. for ID in quite some time, but need a little help with this one…I believe it to be a type of Dusky Wing Skipper, but cannot find this exact one anywhere. Any help you can give will be most appreciated…=-)) Still visit often and wishing you and Lisa Anne a Merry Christmas and great Holiday Season….!
Pat Garner
Hawk Point, MO

Hi Pat,
You are correct in thinking this is a Skipper, but it is not a Dusky Wing. It is Hayhurst’s Scallopwing, Staphylus hayhurstii. The larval food plant is lambsquarters.

Letter 8 – Long Dash Skipper or Peck's Skipper

 

Subject: Libellula & Polites Mystic
Location: Niagara, ON
May 30, 2012 2:44 pm
Hello,
I’ve been able to identify this as a libellula, but haven’t been able to get it down any narrower. He seems to be lacking the brown wingtips of the Widow skimmer you show on your site. I read in a past post that dragonflies aren’t that easy to identify to the species level, but thought I would share this photo as I’m rather pleased with how it turned out. He was a very patient model!
I’m also attaching a photo of what I believe to be either polites peckius (Peck’s Skipper) or polites mystic (Long Dash). This tiny little butterfly and the dragonfly were hanging out together on a sunny afternoon in a patch of wild phlox.
You’re welcome to use one or both photos for your site if you wish.
Signature: Alison

Long Dash Skipper or Peck’s Skipper

Hi Alison,
We are posting your letter with the Long Dash Skipper photo, but we cannot verify for certain if your identification is correct.  We trust that it is.  We will post the Dragonfly at a later date.  Also, we are postdating this to go live on our site during our brief holiday.

Ed. Note:  We have just received a comment from Mona that this is a Peck’s Skipper.  We cannot verify for certain, but in the interest of providing possible identifications, we are linking to the Butterflies and Moths of North America website.

Letter 9 – Mating Skippers

 

Mating Skippers
Location:  Northern Kentucky, near Cincinnati, OH
August 23, 2010 9:15 pm
Hi Bugman,
Love is in the air and definitely in my garden. The skippers have been abundant and madly chasing each other around for a few weeks.
I’m going to take a stab at this and tentatively suggest that these are Little Glassywings, based on a plethora of other photos that I’ve taken of these adorable little guys and that they are common to my county. I know it’s pretty impossible to clearly identify the species based on these pics.
What cracks me up, watching their mating ritual, is that the female will land and spread her wings and body out, seemingly making herself available for mating, just from my observations.
The male will usually do a little bouncing ’dance’ over her for several seconds and then land next to her. He then curls his abdomen toward her, invitingly. Sometimes she accepts his advances, other times not.
This gal apparently found her suitor acceptable.
Regards,
Ragdoll

Mating Skippers

Hi Ragdoll,
Thanks so much for supplying such a detailed account of your observations of the mating habits of these Skippers.  We are currently experiencing technical difficulties and we do not have the time to research your identification, but we will post your email and we hope the images show live.  We will link to the Little Glassywing,
Pompeius verna, page on BugGuide.

Mating Skippers

Thanks a bunch, Bug Wo/Man, but please, don’t trouble yourself too much trying to verify the species. I know skippers are very similar and hard to identify, and these particular pics don’t really do a lot to help with that.
I just wanted to share some shots and the antics of one my favorite garden visitors. They are so cute with their fat, fuzzy little bodies and great big eyes. Plus, they’re pretty fearless. They’ll almost let me touch them, at times, and seem to be as interested in me as I am in them.
I’m happy that you found the shots worthy of posting and, as always, thanks for such a wonderful site. You’ve given me an outlet for my love of ‘bugs’ and kindled a real desire to learn about them, simply because no question, comment, or assumption is too ignorant for you. I’m living proof of that.
Warm Regards,
Rags

Letter 10 – Sachem Skipper

 

Sachem Skipper Butterfly
I love your website! Thank you for your response a couple years ago about a trapdoor spider that I found here on Long Island, NY. Now I have a couple of skipper photos I took last summer in my mother-in-law’s garden. I was able to identify it through www.butterfliesandmoths.org . I’m actually thinking of signing up to help out with them. It looks pretty neat. So here are a couple pics of a Sachem Skipper Butterfly! I am inspired to start taking more bug pictures now.
Tamar

I don’t remember if I included where the skipper photos I sent were found. Soooo… The skipper was photographed in Central Islip, NY (Long Island).
Tamar

Hi Tamar,
We cannot confirm nor deny that this is a Sachem Skipper, Atalopedes campestris, as we find the taxonomy of the Skippers positively mind boggling.

Letter 11 – Skipper

 

Moth Query
Hi
Attached is a picture I took of a moth beside the ocean on mid Vancouver Island BC July 24th at 6:30 or so.. I have searched far and wide for a name. It is very hairy all over, and looks like it could be some kind of cousin to the Silkworm Moth, but appears quite a bit smaller. It is about 1 – 1.5 in long, and with a full wingspan, about 2 inches wide. It appears a bit more bronze than my picture in the full sun shows, but still orange enough to look tigerish. Can you identify it for me. Thanks, I love you website and refer to it often.
F. Hansen

Hi F.,
This isn’t a moth. It is a Skipper in the Family Hesperiidae. Skippers have some characteristics of both butterflies and moths. They get their common name from the rapid, direct, and bouncing flight. Positive identification of your specimen takes an expert in the family.

Letter 12 – Skipper

 

Subject: Skipper, Comma or Question Mark?
Location: Decatur GA
September 23, 2012 11:30 am
Hi! Love the site! I got some great shots of this guy on my lantana today (9.23.12). Can you help me ID it? I’m leaning towards skipper. What do you think?
Signature: Angela Pratt

Skipper

Hi Angela,
This is a Skipper in the family Hesperiidae.  The manner in which it holds its wings is very typical of Skippers, especially the Grass Skippers in the subfamily .  See BugGuide for additional information as well as for photographs of many of the species found in North America.  You may also browse through the numerous genera of Grass Skippers on BugGuide in an attempt to identify this Skipper to the species level.

Skipper

Letter 13 – Skipper collected in State Park

 

Subject: Whirlabout or Sachem Grass Skipper
Location: Silver Springs, Florida
April 15, 2013 4:49 pm
Hi Bugman,
My 4-year-old and I are having loads of fun here in Ocala Florida with butterflies, but are having trouble identifying some of them. For this particular butterfly, I am not sure if it is a whirlabout grass skipper or a sachem grass skipper. Although after searching through the Bugguide I am leaning towards whirlabout because of the checkers on the underside of the wings and the black lines on the upper side of the wings. I don’t remember the way in which it flew but I would think I would notice if it whirled and think it a little odd. I found the skipper in Silver Springs State Park, Silver Springs, Florida down by the Silver River where the foliage is cabbage palm, grass, and oak (mainly cabbage palm and grass). It was probably midday, early April. I don’t actually see many grass skippers down there, mostly Satyr’s, Sulphur’s, and Buckeye’s. I hope this helps! Thank you for your time and all your hard work!
Signature: Kelly and Reuben

Skipper
Skipper

Dear Kelly and Reuben,
This is a very difficult response for us to write on so many levels.  First, we need to come clean and state we have a very difficult time identifying Skippers.  There are so many species that look so similar.  Both the Whirlabout Skipper,
Polites vibex, which is pictured on BugGuide and the Sachems’s Grass Skipper, Atalopedes campestris, which is also pictured on BugGuide are in the same subfamily Herperiinae, as are numerous other Skippers which also look quite similar.  We rarely attempt to identify Skippers to the species level.  That is a job for experts and we are generalists here at What’s That Bug?
The really troubling part of our response deals with the location of the sighting, which is noted as Silver Springs State Park.  All plants and wildlife in State and National Parks are protected and cannot be hunted, trapped or collected.  They are there to be preserved.  We think it is wonderful that you and your four year old have found an activity that you can do together and which introduces your youngster to the wonders of nature, but this is also the time to enforce the importance of preservation.  As our population rises, open space is becoming more and more difficult to secure, especially in high density areas.  Even the most insignificant of creatures might fill a very important niche in the complex web of life in a specific ecosystem.  This is more than just our opinion as the creatures, plants and habitat of in our state and national parks are protected by law and hunting, trapping and collecting are illegal and breaking the law could result in a fine and citation, though we suspect that most rangers would warn you and not actually ticket you.
We have already breached the subject of Starting an Insect Collection not necessarily being Unnecessary Carnage when that collection contains the type of information that would be of scientific value.  Please understand that we remain conflicted on this subject, but we are quite firm on our stance of preservation within the park system.  Even scientists and museums must secure permission through a complex permit process prior to collecting from parks.
Please note that we have taken the liberty of removing your surname from this posting.  Please continue to nurture a love of nature in your youngster even if you consider our response to be harsh.

Skipper
Skipper

Dear Bugman,
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I have taken to heart your concerns and have found a public area in Florida that is actually open to bug collectors by the University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History so that we are no longer encouraging the breaking of laws, rules and mores. I honestly never knew that that’s what we had been doing and we had always been frank with the park rangers when we went in to the park about what we intended to do. They hadn’t said anything either. But now I know. Thank you for being honest with us! You have done a service to our nation’s parks.
Best,
Kelly

Thanks so much for writing back to us Kelly.  We really had been agonizing over posting your identification request because we did not want to alienate you in any way and we most certainly did not want to dampen the enthusiasm you and Reuben have for the wonders of nature.  We suspect the rangers did not see a family outing as any great threat to the survival of any endangered creatures.  We are happy to learn that you are able to continue your collecting at a sanctioned location.

 

Letter 14 – Skipper

 

Subject: Mystery skipper?
Location: Coryell County, Texas
July 1, 2013 11:14 pm
Hello, I briefly saw this butterfly today in our garden, and was only able to capture two fairly clear photos. I think it’s a skipper, but can’t find the species. The closest I found online were a Fawn-spotted Skipper (Cymaernes odilia) seen on http://www.naba.org/sightings/archives/February2002Archive/FawnspottedSkipper.htm, or a Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius) seen on http://bugguide.net.  Gorgeous weather, a cool front in July, wow! Eighty degrees! The butterfly visited a native hibiscus that has smallish leaves and flowers. I love the pollen on the butterfly’s legs, great pollinator! (By the way, the big, gorgeous swallowtails keep mocking me, and fly off over the rooftops and into the taller trees when I aim my camera their way, sigh. Who knew they could fly so high? I didn’t!)
Signature: Ellen

Skipper
Skipper

Hi Ellen,
We rarely try to identify Skippers to the species level because there are so many different species that look alike.  Both of your suggestions seem possible, and we would prefer to leave that identification to the experts.  We have encountered the same problem with Western Tiger Swallowtails which love to fly around the garden, but never seem to alight.

Letter 15 – Peck’s Skipper

 

Subject: Moth ID, please
Location: SW Nassau County, NY
December 27, 2013 7:08 am
I shot this last August on Long Island, NY.
Love seeing the reach of the proboscis?
Signature: Carl

Skipper
Peck’s Skipper

Hi Carl,
This is not a moth, but rather a Skipper, a member of the butterfly family Hesperiidae, a group that has traditionally been considered an evolutionary transition between the more primitive moths and the more advanced butterflies.  Alas, we are not very good at species or genus identification of Skippers, which according to BugGuide are:  “Generally small, mostly orange or brown butterflies with short fat bodies, hooked antennae and rapid, skipping flight. Some species (chiefly Spreadwing Skippers, subfamily Pyrginae) hold their wings in a single flat plane, many others hold hind wings flat and forewings at an angle.”

Update
Thanks to a comment from Richard Stickney, we now know that this is Peck’s Skipper,
Polites peckius, which is pictured on BugGuide.

Letter 16 – Skipper

 

Subject: Indian or Hobomok skipper?
Location: Great Falls Park, Virginia
August 24, 2014 4:27 pm
Looking at various sources, I am not sure one can tell the difference, but do you have an opinion as to whether this is an Indian or Hobomok Skipper? Both look just like what I photographed as far as I can see. No other angles, unfortunately, as didn’t move until it flew off. …
Signature: Seth

Skipper
Skipper

Hi Seth,
We are posting your excellent image of a Skipper in the hope that one of our readers can provide you with an identification.

Letter 17 – Skipper

 

Subject: Tiny Yellow Butterfly
Location: Coryell County, Texas
May 18, 2016 1:40 pm
Hello, hope you are both well!
This tiny butterfly visited the verbena last Friday, May 17th. I think it may be a grass skipper, perhaps a Fiery Skipper. I couldn’t get very close to it, so not a lot of detail is shown, sorry.
It was warm and sunny, around 80 degrees. We’ve had a lot of rain in Texas this month! Thank you.
Signature: Ellen

Hi, the date was actually May 13, sorry! 😀
Here is another photo of the verbena, a new addition to our garden this year. It seems to be popular with the butterflies.
Signature: Ellen

Skipper
Skipper

Hi Ellen,
We always enjoy receiving and posting your butterfly images.  Your garden must be glorious.  We have difficulty identifying Skippers to the species, but we agree this is most likely a Grass Skipper.

Letter 18 – Skipper, but what species?

 

Is this a cloudywing skipper?
May 18, 2010
I took the picture of this fellow in the middle of the day on May 2 while taking a walk in Silver Springs State Park (FL). I’m pretty sure it’s a skipper of some sort, but I haven’t been able to identify which one. The nearest image I’ve been able to find is a cloudywing (genus Thorybes) though I saw a Cogia (no common name) also seemed close. Can you tell me what it is?
Karen H.
Belleview, FL

Skipper

Dear Karen,
Trying to differentiate the Skippers in the family Hesperiidae from one another is no small feat, because according to BugGuide, they are: “Generally small, mostly orange or brown butterflies with short fat bodies, hooked antennae and rapid, skipping flight.  Some species (chiefly Spreadwing Skippers, subfamily Pyrginae) hold their wings in a single flat plane, many others hold hind wings flat and forewings at an angle.
”  We haven’t the necessary skills to properly identify the specimen in this photo, and indeed, examination of the actual specimen may be necessary because sometimes a photograph just isn’t sufficient for proper identification.  There is a photograph posted to BugGuide of a Northern Cloudywing, Thorybes pylades, a species that despite its name ranges into Florida, and that image seems to match your individual quite closely.  The genus Cogia, according to BugGuide, ranges in the western states, so we would eliminate that possibility.

Letter 19 – Skipper Caterpillar

 

Subject: caterpillar
Location: Clay City Indiana
June 17, 2013 8:46 am
Found this making a cocoon on a black locust tree. The head is almost separate and lools like two big eyes.
Signature: JS

Skipper Caterpillar
Skipper Caterpillar

I found it in a book by looking up the host plant and checking for pests.  it is a skipper larvae.  Not too interested in which one 🙂  just trying to decide if it was good or bad.
Thanks!!!!!  Love the website as always.
Jana

Skipper Caterpillar
Skipper Caterpillar

Dear Jana,
We are happy you identified your Skipper Caterpillar without our assistance.  Our research indicates it is most likely a Silver Spotted Skipper,
Epargyreus clarus, and BugGuide indicates:  “Caterpillar eats foliage of leguminous plants, including locust trees, wisteria, alfalfa, and stick-tights.”  This is an underrepresented caterpillar on our site and your photos are greatly welcomed. 

Letter 20 – Skipper Caterpillar

 

Subject: Caterpillar
Location: Texas
October 29, 2013 2:07 pm
Found on an oak tree in central texas
Signature: Blake and Brianna

Duskywing Caterpillar
Duskywing Caterpillar

Hi Blake and Brianna,
This looks like a Skipper Caterpillar, more specifically, one of the Duskywings in the genus
Erynnis.  See BugGuide for some photos of the caterpillars.  According to the Butterflies Through Binoculars The West by Jeffrey Glassberg, Oak is a the food plant for the caterpillars of many of the species of Duskywings.

Letter 21 – Skipper Caterpillar

 

Subject:  Caterpillar/grub id
Geographic location of the bug:  Eastern Panhadle WV
Date: 01/22/2018
Time: 09:39 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this little guy/gal outside today I think it may be confused due to warm weather we have been having
How you want your letter signed:  Catherine Hubbard

Skipper Caterpillar

Dear Catherine,
Our initial impression was that this might be the larva of an Elm Sawfly, but then we saw then large head, which leads us to believe this is a Skipper Caterpillar similar to this image posted to BugGuide.  Skippers are classified as butterflies, but they share many of the characteristics of moths.

Skipper Caterpillar

Letter 22 – Skipper Caterpillar from Ecuador might be Two Barred Flasher

 

Subject:  Colorful Ecuadorian caterpillar
Geographic location of the bug:  Rio Silanche Sanctuary, Ecuador
Date: 04/21/2018
Time: 11:56 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi Daniel, et al.
While visiting Ecuador mid-January 2017, I unfurled this Pyrginae  caterpillar from it’s shelter.  Sorry, I don’t know what plant it was on.  I wonder if one of your experts can tell me the name of the skipper.
Thanks much,
How you want your letter signed:  Dwaine

Skipper Caterpillar

Hi Dwaine,
This is a gorgeous caterpillar.  Upon embarking on identification research, we quickly found this very different, but also colorfully striped Skipper Caterpillar on FlickR and another Skipper Caterpillar (
Astraptes fulgerator) from Brazil on FlickR, shot by the same photographer, is an even closer match to your individual.  Despite the color difference, we would not rule out that your individual might be Astraptes fulgerator or another member of the genus.  Caterpillars often change color just prior to metamorphosis, and pink and purple are two colors some caterpillars assume when undergoing morphological changes.  This Biodiversity in Focus article cites the genus Astraptes and DNA identification, and it contains an image of some variability in Astraptes caterpillars based on food plants.  There are also images of Two-Barred Flasher Caterpillars on the North American Butterfly Association of South Texas site.  We will contact Keith Wolfe to see if he can provide any information.

Skipper Caterpillar

Thank you so much!!  That is a wealth of information I did not have.

Letter 23 – Skipper Caterpillar from Guatemala may be Zilpa Longtail

 

Subject:  Unknown caterpillar in Guatemala
Geographic location of the bug:  Tikal, Peten, Guatemala
Date: 01/21/2018
Time: 10:53 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi
I ‘d be fascinated to know what this caterpillar turns into. Can you help, please?
The pic was taken at 3am on January 6th in Tikal, Guatemala.  The beast in question was on a tree trunk in the carpark, around 50cm off the ground. It was approx. 40 – 50mm long.
How you want your letter signed:  Thanks, Steve

Skipper Caterpillar

Dear Steve,
Our initial thought was that this must be the Caterpillar of a Skipper in the family Hesperiidae because of the shape of the head.  Skippers are butterflies, but they share many characteristics typically associated with moths.  You may scroll down to an image of a Longtailed Skipper on Tortoise Preserve where it states:  “Like other skipper caterpillars, this species has a large head.”  Your individual looks very much like the caterpillar of a Zilpa Longtail,
Chioides zilpa, pictured on Butterflies of America that were taken in Costa Rica, a country with a much greater online database of insects, including butterflies and moths, than does Guatemala.  If our identification is correct, the adult Zilpa Longtail is pictured on the North American Butterfly Association of South Texas site.  We will try contacting Keith Wolfe to see if he can verify our identification.

Letter 24 – Coconut Skipper from Indonesia

 

Subject: Moth or skipper
Location: East Java, Indonesia
February 15, 2016 3:18 am
When I photographed this moth in Java, Indonesia I was surten that it is a moth. Later on my computer I see that the antennas look like antennas from a butterfly … A moth normaly has no knots at the end I was always teached.
The red eyes are for animals who live at night so I am confused in this case …
Question is, moth or skipper … It’s name would be nice but I realise that would be to difficult with so less details.
Hope to hear answer about this question …
Signature: Sandra Brennand (NL)

Skipper
Coconut Skipper

Dear Sandra,
This is definitely a Skipper in the family Hesperiidae and not a moth.  Exact species identification may be difficult.

Letter 25 – Spread Winged Skipper

 

Pyrginae
Hi,
I need help identifing this Pyrginae. I think it’s a cloudywing or duskywing but not sure of species. Thank you,
Patrick Schmitt

Hi Patrick,
Well, we agree with Subfamily Pyrginae, the Spread Winged Skippers, but we do not feel confident taking this to the genus level, much less species.

Hi guys,
The genus would be Erynnis for Patrick’s skipper, but the species is hard to determine. Loving your site,
Dave Fallow
Madison, WI

Letter 26 – Caterpillar from India is Giant Redeye

 

Subject: identification of 2 caterpillars.
Location: Bangalore , Karnataka, INDIA
December 12, 2014 2:11 am
Dear sir,
I like to photograph nature ,in particular flora fauna around our campus,making it useful for our Bioscience faculty to use it for teaching the students in an excited way.
While doing so i came across 2 caterpillars with strange textures:

2.Second one i will upload in my next mail.
One important thing – These pictures from India – I hope you will be able to accommodate and identify. I am mentioning this because the 2/3 sites where I tried ,INDIA is not on the list of areas to be covered.
Kindly let me know.It will excite the Boys!!
Thanking you.
Signature: Nanda Gopal

Unknown Caterpillar
Giant Redeye Skipper Caterpillar

Hi Nanda,
We are finally getting around to posting your second caterpillar.  We were unable to identify this creature.  It appears to be covered with a substance that is unusual, like the waxy substance secreted by some Lanternflies and by the North American Butternut Wooly Worm which is a Sawfly Larva.

Unknown Caterpillar
Giant Redeye Skipper Caterpillar

Identification courtesy of Karl
Hi Daniel and Nanda:
The comment from Steve is correct – this is a skipper butterfly (Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae). It looks like a Giant Redeye (Gangara thirsts); click on “Early stages” for caterpillar photos. It is found through most of southern India. Regards.  Karl

Thanks as always Karl.  There is also an image on Butterfly Circle where it states:  “The Giant Redeye is the largest Hesperiid in Singapore. It is very rare and has so far been observed only within the Central Catchment Nature Reserves. “

Letter 27 – Unknown Skipper is Guava Skipper

 

ID THESE MOTHS PLEASE
I shot these photos at my home in south Texas and was wondering if you could please help me id them. THANKS
DANNY

Hi Danny,
We don’t recognize your Skipper in the Butterfly family Hesperiidae. We have never seen a Skipper with red spots and believe it might have strayed north from Mexico. We will see if Eric Eaton recognizes the species.

Guava SKipper (11/14/2006)
Hey Guys, I think this is a Guava Skipper (Phocides polybius). I’ve encountered it a couple of times while butterflying/birding in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. I think it’s an occassional vagrant in South Texas, from Mexico.
Eric Duran

Letter 28 – White Veined Skipper from Costa Rica

 

Subject:  Unknown butterfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Tilaran, Costa Rica
Date: 08/04/2019
Time: 04:20 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello,
please identify this little butterfly I had found on October 15 near Tilaran at a meadow.
Thank you in advance
How you want your letter signed:  Johannes

White Veined Skipper

Dear Johannes,
We don’t know how many of the 13 identification requests you submitted yesterday we will be able to address, but we will attempt to research as many as we are able with our limited time.  We believe this is a Veined White Skipper,
Heliopetes arsalte, which we located on Butterflies of America.

Authors

  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

24 thoughts on “Skippers: All You Need to Know for a Smooth Sailing Adventure”

    • Thanks Mona,
      WE are also indicating in the posting that Peck’s Skipper is another identification possibility. Thanks also for providing a link.

      Reply
  1. Hello Karen and What’s the Bug,
    I found and actually caught this skipper this past week at Silver River State Park and am planning on taking it up to the University of Florida’s Natural Science Museum in Gainesville where they have some butterfly gurus that might be able to help me identify it. I’ll let you know what I find out when I get back from there.
    Best,
    Kelly and Reuben from Ocala, Florida

    Reply
  2. Hello Karen and What’s the Bug,
    I found and actually caught this skipper this past week at Silver River State Park and am planning on taking it up to the University of Florida’s Natural Science Museum in Gainesville where they have some butterfly gurus that might be able to help me identify it. I’ll let you know what I find out when I get back from there.
    Best,
    Kelly and Reuben from Ocala, Florida

    Reply
    • We agree. We are just happy the Skippers know how to identify their own species, otherwise mating might become difficult.

      Reply
  3. I found some images and they reminded me of this post.
    Despite the different coloration, I feel that it is close related to this species ans it’s said to bem feeding on “chilli”http://wikivillage.co.za/central-garden/blog/when-worms-come-out-eat
    If chilly is only Cpsicum spp., I dunno, I was anable to find anything else.

    Reply
  4. I found some images and they reminded me of this post.
    Despite the different coloration, I feel that it is close related to this species ans it’s said to bem feeding on “chilli”http://wikivillage.co.za/central-garden/blog/when-worms-come-out-eat
    If chilly is only Cpsicum spp., I dunno, I was anable to find anything else.

    Reply
  5. Assuming it was found at the Kenya Coast, this is a final instar caterpillar of Coeliades kenya (Hesperiidae). If was from inland around Meru, it might be the species / subspecies merua, the caterpillar of which is unknown. See: Cock, M.J.W. (2010) Observations on the biology of Afrotropical Hesperiidae (Lepidoptera) principally from Kenya. Part 1. Introduction and Coeliadinae. Zootaxa 2547, 1-63.

    Reply
  6. Gangara thyrsis, commonly known as the giant redeye, is a butterfly belonging to the family Hesperiidae. It breeds on a number of palm species.

    Reply

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