Wednesday, July 24, 2013

woodland skipper ~ 07/24/13 ~ Wilder Ranch

Two little skippers sitting on a leaf, k, i, s, s...  Right before I took this picture, these two were flirting and dancing in the air.  Well, at least that's my guess.  It could have been a territorial fight?  However, I'm further guessing the individual on the bottom of the frame is a male, while the one above him is a female.  Look at the color of the antennal hooks.  The bottom one's is orange, while the top's is black. I couldn't find any references specifically to woodland skippers and sexual dimorphism in antenna color, but I did find a couple references stating they are apparently the most common butterflies to be found this time of year in western North America.  That's good to know.

Despite my love for butterflies, I generally tend to write off skippers.  Partly it's because I find them so difficult to ID on the wing.  There are so many different kinds of little orange and brown skippers out there, many found in the same location, perhaps only separated by temporal spaces.  I wonder why.  I mean, why aren't there many different kinds of buckeye butterflies, e.g.?  Or swallowtails?

Actually, before looking this ID up, I never heard of woodland skippers.  They're new to me.  For those who know of my proclivity for Lepidoptera, I first use Jeffrey Glassberg's Butterflies through Binoculars: The West, then confirm details online at sites I've embedded in the ID above.  This book is just the right level for most people who simply like butterflies.  Another Lepidopterist complained to me about the accuracy of his books, but they're field guides, for goodness sakes, not exhaustive checklists.  Jeffrey Glassberg broke new ground 20 years ago with his first Butterflies through Binoculars book covering the Boston-New York-Washington Region, which has since been reformatted into The East.  Without ever having met him (well, maybe I did once, but I don't recall specifically), he has influenced my appreciation for nature.  Thank you, Mr. Glassberg.

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