Sunday, July 24, 2011

Silver-spotted Skipper

Walking around the yard in the late afternoon, collecting Japanese beetles in my yogurt container gets tiresome and discouraging sometimes. Just when I think I've nipped them all, I find bunches more. Then there are the tomato hornworms, at least 3 each day to dispatch.

My mood brightens though as I approach the coneflowers as this is where I find lovely bees and butterflies and other cool insects. So it was today. I saw a new butterfly on the purple coneflower and dashed back in the house for my camera. It looked like a different species of skipper - a big one. After a review of the Internet, I keyed it as a silver-spotted skipper, Epargyreus ciarus.

Note the gold spots on the forewings and the silvery-white band on the underside of the hindwing. Somewhere I read that the silver band looks like the State of Texas (the "silver star" state), hence its name. I'm not sure.

This is the largest skipper (about a 2 inch wingspan) and apparently quite common. Have a look at its huge eyes and large proboscis, features common to all skippers.

The translucent gold spots on the forewings resemble a stained glass window as the late afternoon sun illuminates the garden.

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