Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Little Guys

Fiery Skipper
Until I started photo- graphing butter- flies, I never realized there were so many different ones in my garden.  Sure I was always impressed with the swallowtails and monarchs, but the little guys are every bit as impressive.   I had to wait patiently for this Fiery Skipper which wasn't too easy for me to do on such a hot day.  But finally I was able to get a shot.  As usual, the Fiery Skipper and the Pearl Crescent, information are from my favorite butterfly site, Gardens with Wings.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

The most interesting visual aspect of the Fiery Skipper butterfly is the small size of the wings compared to the body. Extremely short antennae are also characteristic of this butterfly. Despite the small appendages, the Fiery Skipper is the hot rod of the garden. When beating quickly, the orange and brown wings of this butterfly appear like flames flickering in a campfire. The large eyes will captivate you. A male normally has orange wings with dark spots while the female’s wings are dark brown with orange spots. This nimble butterfly will blaze a path in any garden and light up your day.

Family: Skipper (Hesperiidae)
Subfamily: Grass Skipper (Hesperiinae)
Average Wingspan: 1 1/4" - 1 1/2"
Habitat: Open areas

Plants That Attract This Butterfly

Pearl Crescent
And then one of my favorite "miniature" butterflies, a Pearl Crescent, came around. After reading the infor- mation on the Pearl Crescent, he's move right up there into the "pretty dern impressive" category.

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

This small wonder is simply astounding. It is one of the more common butterflies visiting open, sunny areas in North America. It gets its name from a pearl colored crescent shape on the underside of its hind wing, outlined in black. This butterfly can be hard to identify because it resembles several other butterflies and because the overall pattern on its wings can differ geographically and can change depending on the seasons. The cooler season of this butterfly usually has more markings and is a darker orange. The Pearl Crescent is also amazing because in some regions of Northern America it flies year round and in other regions it overwinters as a caterpillar. The caterpillar will stop eating and enter diapause, a pause in the growth and development until the weather is more favorable. When the weather warms again, it will continue to eat and grow. The female can be identified by its pointed abdomen, while the males have a blunt shaped abdomen. The male’s antennae are also orange on the upper side with black on the underside. The amazing color and pattern changes will be a natural phenomenon you will enjoy observing in your garden.

Family: Brush-footed Butterfly (Nymphalidae)
Subfamily: True Brushfoot (Nymphalinae)
Average Wingspan: 1 1/4" - 1 3/4"
Habitat: Open grassy areas, fields, woods, pastures

Plants That Attract This Butterfly

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