Here's more about the little Common Checkered-Skipper I photographed on my walk last weekend. In the scientific community they are known as Pyrgus commonis, belonging to the subfamily Pyrginae (spread-wind Skippers) and in the Family Hesperiidae. Skippers are the butterfly equivalent to the LBJ’s (Little Brown Jobbies) of the birding world. But this guy is pretty distinctive by comparison. In West Virginia they have been found in all of the eastern panhandle counties and those bordering Virginia. They could be in other parts of West Virginia but to my knowledge no one has reported a sighting.
You can see the blue which is charastic of the male. Isn't that a nice color combination for a suit?
The top side of the body is blue-gray on the males and black on the females. You can see this one is a male. He looks like he is dressed to attend the Royal Ascot race. The field guides say they have black checks but in this photo they look maroon brown to me. It is probably the reflective color that my camera picked up. I suspect that if it were inside and pinned it would look black. Their wingspan is one to one and half inches. I never realized how beautiful they were until I saw my photograph. But then a lot of things as well as people are much more beautiful once you take a closer look.
When I moved closer he became a little nervous and moved back under the leaf. I was just inches away so I don't blame him. I talk to butterflies to calm them down but it probably really only calms me so I can be steady when I press that button. When photographing butterflies it is very important to not let your shadow land on them, they will fly for sure.
The caterpillar feeds on plants from the Mallow family (Malvaceae) which includes the familiar hollyhock. They make a folded leaf nest where they can safely live and feed until they are adults. During the winter they hibernate as adult caterpillars.
This was the parting shot after he moved to another location. I thanked him and we both moved on.
Squirrel's View [original photos, words and poetic attempts] is an ongoing work of creativity and thought by Cheryl Jennings (c) 2009 , and all rights are reserved by her. To quote from written materials or borrow images, contact her and ask for permission. She welcomes their use for educational purposes but wishes to be notified first. Thanks.