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Monday, August 14, 2006

Skippers

Silver-Spotted Skipper, 8/13/2006

Skipper (Least Skipper?), 8/13/2006

I never even knew there was such a thing as a Skipper until last year. Related to butterflies and moths, Skippers get their name from their erratic "skipping" motion through the air. It reminds me of bits of paper ash being blown about in a fire - rising, falling, rising again.

The upper image is of a Silver-Spotted Skipper - though today I learned that that term is applied to several different insects, including some that I don't think are Skippers at all. I also call it the Birdshit Bug, because it looks like a piece of wood that a passing bird has just pooped on. Good camouflage, and good outline break-up.

The lower image is greatly magnified. While the Silver-Spotted Skipper is about an inch long, the smaller, golden Skipper (which I seem to recall is a Least Skipper, but I can't find my Audubon Field Guide at the moment) is about one-third of an inch, and considerably more skittish than its larger cousin. I was lucky to be able to get close enough to get this shot, which was from a range of about a foot. Check out the funky pattern on its wings, like a collection of Post-Its tacked on for later reference!

UPDATE: According to several sites, the Skipper at the bottom is also a Silver-Spotted Skipper.

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