Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus [Drury])
Wing span: 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 inches (3.2 - 3.8 cm).
Identification: Antennae are very short. Male: Wings are yellow-orange. Outer margins are black and toothed above; forewing has a wide black stigma. Underside of the hindwing is scattered with small black spots. Female: Upperside is dark brown with a very irregular orange band. Underside of hindwing is pale brown with paler checks.
Life history: Males perch in lawns and grassy swales to wait for receptive females. Eggs are laid singly under leaves and also on other plants and objects. Caterpillars eat leaves and roll and tie them to make shelters which lie horizontally in the sod.
Flight: Several broods from May-August in the north, all year in Florida and South Texas.
Caterpillar hosts: Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), crabgrass (Digitaria), St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), and other grasses.
Adult food: Nectar from flowers of a variety of plants including sweet pepperbush, swamp milkweed, asters, sneezeweed, knapweed, ironweed, and thistles.
Habitat: Sunny, open areas such as fields, lawns, gardens, levees, roadsides, and second-growth scrub.
Range: Southern United States south through the West Indies and Central America to Argentina. Cannot survive harsh winters; each summer this skipper may stray and re-colonize north to northern California, southern Minnesota, southern Ontario, and southern New England.
Conservation: Not required.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management needs: None reported.
Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates. Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates. Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates. Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies including adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Denver and Fort Collins, CO. Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann
State and Regional References:
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.