A Rare American Skipper

Leonard's Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

Sometimes I review my images and I’m pleased that I have some that are just plain unusual, “rare.” Jeffrey Glassberg in A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America notes that this Leonard’s Skipper butterfly is “LR-U,” locally rare to uncommon. Good, for I remember when and how I scored this sweet image.

It was well into September at Raccoon Creek State Park in Southwestern Pennsylvania. I wanted to go there that morning, but had an internal debate, ‘Why go when it was so late in the season and everything that could be seen by me, was?’ I went.

She flew onto a mowed trail in Doak’s 100+ acres meadow. ??????? What was she? I’d never seen such a sweety before. And she was a stunner!!

She my first Leonard’s. A rare skipper that first appears in very late summer!

A rare American skipper butterfly, and  . . . Never say never! Thanks Fuji, for your Velvia slide film caught her lush color just fine.

Jeff

Upsetting . . . Very Upsetting . . .

Leonard's Skipper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

March 27th and the USPS letter carrier delivers our latest issue of NABA’s American Butterflies (Vol. 21: Numbers ¾). Titled The Conservation Issue . . . I looked forward to reading about the successes that butterflies were enjoying across the United States That did not happen. Most of the articles left me upset and saddened.

Ann B. Swengel writes of the challenges that grass skippers were encountering in their tall grass prairie habitats . . . but soon she was examining the status of Regal Fritillaries in those same grasslands. I’ve wanted to photograph regal Frits for years now, knowing how limited they are in my home state of Pennsylvania. For various reasons, that has not been accomplished, yet. Jeffrey Glassberg reports in that same issue of American Butterflies, “Regal Fritillaries [were last recorded in Westchester County, NY] in 1975.”

Then Jeffrey Glassberg discussed the disappearance of Leonard’s Skippers from Westchester County. “The last individuals were seen in 1988.”  The last 2 colonies known were decimated by 1)a musical festival that apparently pounded them into the ground and 2) the construction of townhouses that destroyed their habitat.

I will never forget my encounter with Leonard’s Skipper (Hesperia leonardus) in 2006. We’ve posted that experience earlier, so you are welcome to have a look. It was September 4th, sooo late in the season to meet something 100% new . . . and she was stunning! She flew onto the trail cut through the 100 acre meadow at Raccoon Creek State Park, in southwestern Pennsylvania. She posed with her lush wings fully spread. After lots of exposures, she fled.

These reports are very upsetting. Have the small populations at Raccoon Creek State Park . . . undergone . . . I don’t want to think about it.

The American Butterflies articles go on to discuss the absence of Silver-bordered Fritillaries, Meadow Fritillaries, Coral Hairstreaks . . . can we not anchor the butterflies that we have, and guard their habitat?

Jeff