Whirlabout Skipper

Skipper Butterfly at Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, SC

Good. This Whirlabout Skipper is absolutely “fresh.” He sports the “vivid” coloration described by Cech and Tudor in their wonderful book, Butterflies of the East Coast.

Where did we happen onto this beautiful display of brown and yellowish-orange? We found him at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina, just 15 minutes drive from Savannah, Georgia.

I’ve always favored brown shoes, suits and ties and now, gorgeous brown skippers.

Polites vibex is a Southern species, so we had to come enjoy Savannah, Tybee Island beaches and this Natonal Wildlife Refuge to make its acquaintance.

Cech and Tudor describe how Whirlabouts prefer hot, sunny, exposed open spaces. This guy was in exactly such a place. The sun was powerful that morning, the mosquitoes were not especially shy and the ‘gators were lazily swimming along the extensive canals that bordered the trails of the refuge. At one time a rice plantation, Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is a superb place to seek butterflies. The Viceroys, Gulf fritillaries, Variegated fritillaries and Skippers are so richly, sharply colored. I had one of those Thank you G-d moments. Albert Bierstadt and Ansel Adams and their ilk surely had such moments. And to think that such experiences are still possible, without jetting to Mongolia or Madagascar!


Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

Gulf Fritillary shot at Savannah National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR), North Carolina

They are just spectacular. This one is resting before it continues its search for nectaring passionflowers.

They are very abundant in our Southeast. This morning at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge I saw many Gulf Fritillaries.

I once spotted one in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh! That was more than 10 years ago. It was hundreds of miles north of its usual range. Hmmm! The previous months had been warmer and drier than usual and the Outdoor Gardens featured Passionflower. So does that explain the appearance of a Southern butterfly in the North?

That’s what I love about what I do. You never, never know what you’ll see next.

When you study this photo of one of the most beautiful butterflies in the U.S., what do you think about?