Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus [Cramer])
Wing span: 1 3/4 - 2 5/8 inches (4.5 - 6.7 cm).
Identification: Wings are brown-black; hindwing is lobed. Forewing has transparent gold spots; underside of hindwing has a metallic silver band.
Life history: Adults perch upside down under leaves at night and on hot or cloudy days. To seek females males perch on branches and tall weeds, and occasionally patrol. Females lay single eggs near the host trees, and the caterpillars must find their proper host. Young caterpillars live in a folded leaf shelter; older ones live in a nest of silked-together leaves. Chrysalids hibernate.
Flight: Two broods from May-September in most of the East, a single brood to the north and west, three-four broods from February-December in the Deep South.
Caterpillar hosts: Many woody legumes including black locust (Robinia pseudacacia), honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) and false indigo (Amorpha species). Also selected herbaceous legumes such s Glycyrrhiza species.
Adult food: The Silver-spotted Skipper almost never visits yellow flowers but favors blue, red, pink, purple, and sometimes white and cream-colored ones. These include everlasting pea, common milkweed, red clover, buttonbush, blazing star, and thistles.
Habitat: Disturbed and open woods, foothill streamcourses, prairie waterways.
Range: Extreme southern Canada and most of the continental United States except the Great Basin and west Texas; northern Mexico.
Conservation: Not usually 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. 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.