Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More Butterflies of Summer

There is something like 250+ species of Skipper in North America. These are all rather small butterflies that get their name for their sort of hopping habit. Lots of species hang out in groups and all fly together making the garden bustling with activity. They're often ignored though for their assorted brown and orange color scheme. Caterpillars only feed at night and are almost never seen either. Most species use native grasses as host plants but a few dabble in Oak and Legumes as well. This rather dark species above I've only started noticing this year. I'm hoping it's the Wild Indigo Duskywing, Erynnis baptisiae, which uses Blue False Indigo, Baptisia australis, as a host plant.   

Here's a better picture of what might be the same species. (I'm also glad they found a use for the ironweed.)

Other skippers have started showing up as well. This one is smaller and more of the standard when I think of skippers. It's slightly unusual in how pale beige it is, as most species seem to be dark brown. The only species I can really identify at a glance is the Silver-Spotted Skipper, Epargyreum clarus. It's larger than most skippers, brown, and with a bold white and orange stripe crossing it's wings.

Here on the Joe Pye Weed is the black form of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus, and a rather beat up one at that. The light reflecting under the wings is creating a slight yellow appearance. 

A new species I've started seeing is the Spicebush Swallowtail, Papilio troilus. The wings are always lined with white or yellow spots, but there's also this large area of either blue, green, or teal to the rear of the wings. I took this picture at a nursery which sells an unidentified species of Spicebush. I never buy plants when they're not identified to species level. However, in this case identifying to genus level is all that's needed. As it turns out there are only 3 species of Spicebush in the US and all of them are native. I'm probably going to go back and buy a shrub.