Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Silver-spotted and other Skippers

Skippers form their own superfamily, Hesperiidae, within the order Lepidoptera which also includes butterflies and moths. Although generally small skippers have a more robust build than true butterflies and their clubbed antennae end in a hook.

Most of our local skipper species have wingspans of about 25 to 30 mm. The Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) is an exception ... with semi-transparent gold spots on the forewings and silver bands on the hindwings, and a wingspan of about 60 to 65 mm, it stands out from the crowd.

Here's my finger in the background to impart a sense of scale.

Some skippers are uniquely patterned and easy to identify in the field.

Arctic Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon)

Hobomok Skipper (Poanes hobomok)

Leonard's Skipper (Hesperia leonardus)

European Skipper (Thymelicus lineola)

Other skippers can be challenging to sort out. This Duskywing did me a favour and landed on my hand, making it possible to take fairly detailed shots from a variety of angles (note the clear spots in the backlit view of the undersides of the forewings).

Is this a Dreamy Duskywing? A Columbine Duskywing? I can't seem to narrow this one down past the genus level, so until I gain more experience I'm going to call it Erynnis sp., and let it go at that.