Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Silver-spotted Skipper

Well, it's that time of year again (summer!), and since I am still very much a novice at lepidoptera and odonata identification (and may always be), I notice species that may be common to some but haven't yet caught my eye. Take for example the Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) - I was out doing some breeding bird surveys in Pickering the other week and spotted this individual on my wanderings. I don't recall ever seeing one before, so I snapped a shot (albeit poorly on my point-and-shoot work camera) and Rob and I spent some time trying to figure it out with my ID books. Nothing seemed to show the yellow on the upper wings so I kept thinking if it wasn't in my books perhaps it was a rare sighting!

After a bit more searching, this time online, we discovered its identification. It turns out the ID books I was using (both photographic and artistic renditions) just do a poor job of showing all of the proper colours for this butterfly.

Silver-spotted Skipper

As one of the larger skippers in its family, this particular species has a wider range further south in the US but is fairly common in Southern Ontario - typically not found north of the Great Lakes though. It utilizes various legumes as host plants, which means they aren't really specialists and therefore fairly widespread. As this photo demonstrates, they have a preference for flowers that are blue, pink, red, purple, or white-coloured but tend to avoid flowers that are yellow.

Now that I've seen one I'm sure I'll start seeing them everywhere! There's something to be said for being out there on your own trying to identify species (whether they are birds, insects, etc.) - often these kinds of self-learning adventures help the identification of the species stay in your memory better than when someone finds them and identifies them for you.

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