Malicious Skipper (Synapte malitiosa [Herrich-Schäffer])
Wing span: 1 - 1 3/16 inches (2.5 - 3 cm).
Identification: Upperside is dark brown; forewing has a very diffuse dusky yellow band. Underside of hindwing is light brown with minute dark striations.
Life history: Adults fly swiftly, most often in the afternoon. Adults rest with their wings closed, but bask with hindwings open wide and forewings open to about 45 degrees. Males perch to find receptive females. Caterpillars live in shelters of silked leaves and fully-grown caterpillars overwinter in their shelters.
Flight: Many broods; from May-November in South Texas, February-November in Central America.
Caterpillar hosts: The grasses Paspalum in Texas, Panicum maximum in Mexico.
Adult food: Flower nectar.
Habitat: Shaded subtropical forests, flower gardens.
Range: Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas, south through Cuba, Jamaica, and Central America to southern Brazil and Paraguay.
Conservation: Not required for a periodic stray.
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 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.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann