Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)
Found in three subspecies, the Fiery Skipper butterfly has a unique look in the sense that they are often mistaken for having only two wings, instead of four, because of their posture of sitting on their host flowers. These are small creatures with a body length of only about an inch or so.
Description and Identification
The mature larva is about 0.5 inches in size, with a white body marked with black spots and long spines. The orange head has two black horns, while there is also a yellow anal plate. They remain solitary or form small groups of 2 to 3 individuals.
The chrysalis is light brown with golden spots on the back, and about ten black spines protruding from the ventral side. The thorax or mid portion is distinctly curved, with the antennae having multiple short black spines.
Sexual Dimorphism: Present
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the males show orange or yellow wings having dark spots all over, while the females have a dark brown base with yellow to orange spots. When the wings are closed, the same patterns are displayed, but in a much fainter contrast.
Average wingspan: 3 cm to 4 cm (1.18 inches to 1.57 inches)
Flight pattern: Very fast and haphazard
Yellow in color, and laid one at a time
|Distribution||North and South America, from Canada to Argentina|
|Habitat||Dense green vegetation, public places like parks and gardens, roadsides, open fields and meadows|
|Lifespan of adults||About a month|
|Host plants||Several species of grass including Bermuda grass, crabgrass, St. Augustine grass, etc.|
|Adult diet||Flower nectar including thistles, sneezeweed, knapweed, sweet pepperbush, swamp milkweed, asters, and ironweed|
Did You Know?
- While sitting, the fiery skippers can hold their wings in a triangle shape, which is unique to only the ‘skipper’ (‘skipperling’) species.
- Their sitting position is thought to be an adaptation for absorbing the sun’s rays in a better way.
- The larva of this species is considered as a pest.