Challenge Skipper II

Skipper Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

Challenge Skipper, posted weeks ago, happily brought comment from several very authoritative experts. Unfortunately, definitive ID required review of another photo of that butterfly…and there was no other photo. Butterflies can be very skittish. Multiple photographs are often not possible.

Challenge Skipper II reveals my difficulty with skippers. Those of you who choose to study butterflies in your university studies will surely have much less difficulty telling one grass skipper from another.

What we can share is that this little pretty is nectaring upon Black-eye Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) along a trail in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. Serious gardeners recognize that there are now dozens of hybridized Rudbeckia perennials available in the U.S..

My own experience is that Black-eye Susan wildflowers spend most of the critical morning hours without any butterfly visitors. Unexpectedly, there may be a burst of activity on these flowers, for very short periods of time. Then those butterflies, bees and flies will not be seen on these flowers for the rest of the morning. How do we explain this? Do Black-eye Susans produce nectar for brief periods of time?

Back to our skipper. I have seen more than 60 species of butterfly in this beautiful state park over some 12 years. I have seen a Goatweed Leafwing, an Orange-barred Sulphur and Compton Tortoiseshells.

This one was shot on the morning of July 13th. Review the click-on enlargement feature. Please, if you are amongst the heavyweights in our growing audience, Comment on the correct name of this tiny beauty.

Jeffrey

7 thoughts on “Challenge Skipper II

  1. Sorry, no heavy weight here, just an interested reader. The past few weeks in NC have surely been a good time to see many Skippers. I am quite sure I have several photos of this one, but will wait to see the enlarged photo. Such a nice blog you have.

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  2. I have so many skippers in my flower garden that I have trouble trying to identify some of the small ones. They skip around so much it is often difficult to have them still long enough to get good photos.

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    • mrsroadrunner: Thanks for considering my field observation. Though black-eye susans have been a big winner in Pittsburgh, Pa gardens this summer ’12 (big, lush and healthy), they too have few butterfly, fly or bee visitors. So the wild and the hybridized black-eye susans remain lightly visited. My guess (and you’ve read my thinking) is that (at least during the morning) they produce nectar quickly over a short period of time and then stop. That would explain what I’ve seen over the years. How & why? remain a terrific doctoral study for some youngster in your nearest university. Jeff

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