08.22.2014 When is a butterfly not a butterfly?…and I don’t mean moths.

If you are a lepidopterist (or wish you were one) then you know I am talking about Skippers.  Quite similar to butterflies, the main differences are a more stout body, not as slim as a typical butterfly, and having a bit of a hook on the tip of the antenna club.  They are also fairly small and tend to flit about more quickly and often than a larger butterfly.

I’ve had Tawny-edged Skippers (Polites themistocles) visit the yard a few times that I have witnessed and no doubt many times that I have not.  And, keeping with an ongoing theme on this blog, here is a shot of one on, of all things, boneset.Tawny-edged-Skipper-072613-600WebQuite the little poser.  As you can see, they also have fairly large eyes per body size.

If you like more color in your Skipper images, here is another Tawny-edged on goldenrod from a few years back.

Tomorrow is forecast to start a bit drippy, but I hope to have a productive few days.  Have a great weekend, everyone!  🙂


About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
This entry was posted in Butterflies, Closeup Photography, Insect Behavior, Insects, Lepidoptera, macro photography, Nature Photography, Western Massachusetts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to 08.22.2014 When is a butterfly not a butterfly?…and I don’t mean moths.

  1. Again … your focus is tack sharp. If you tell me you used one for this beautiful shot, I’ll be certain to add one to my Holiday wish list. I prefer the ball head that I purchase from Really Right Stuff … I’d go with a rail from there. I need to begin saving up! D


    • I am not sure what you are asking, David. This was with a straight 180 macro lens. I do use a ballhead (in my case, a Kirk BH-1) on a Gitzo tripod, but no focusing rail for this one. The distance was enough so I could do my focusing with plenty to spare front and back. A long macro like the 180 comes with a poor man’s focusing rail…the shoe mount. 🙂


      • You got it right … I was asking whether you used a focusing rail. You must have really good eyes … and a very bright viewing area! Really nice shot.


      • Thanks.
        LiveView makes the work a lot easier. I’ve mentioned how it helps reviewing focus and movement, but if you place the focus box in a dark area it actually will brighten the image on the LCD as it previews exposure as well. It is a very useful tool.


  2. Just Rod says:

    A lovely shot of the Skipper. I hadn’t realized they were not butterflies. They ate included on our butterfly books and I don’t recall reading they were separate from butterflies and moths.
    It certainly is a very sharp image.
    Thanks for the S and G piece. They made some of my favourite music.
    Hope it’s not too drippy on the morrow. We are on for several wet days. That’s because I want to stain the deck! Patience.


  3. Andrew says:

    We still have them classified as butterflies in HKLS. The Tawnt-edged version is very handsome.


  4. Andrew says:

    Or even Tawny.


  5. shoreacres says:

    I think the skippers are butterflies — I suspect you were just comparing them to the larger and more colorful species. What I can’t figure out is this cutie’s scientific name. Most of the time, flowers have names that make at least some sense. They reference the shape, or the person who first recorded them — that sort of thing. But Polites themistocles? From what I can figure out, polites is Greek for ‘citizen’, and Themistocles was an Athenian statesman whose name is based in themis: “custom, law, or right”.

    That’s all beyond me, but at least now I know that the scientific name doesn’t necessarily imply that this is an especially polite creature!


    • Yeah, I got a little carried away there. I misinterpreted the classification in BugGuide as they consider all butterflies and moths other than skippers in one category in their key.
      “Papilionoidea (Butterflies (excluding skippers)” and Hesperioidea (Skippers).

      I have no idea how it got its name. Someone named it in 1824, Letreille, so I would guess a french entomologist, and maybe going for a name he or she liked rather than a specific direct connection. It is not unusual for species to be named for a particular person, often the one who discovered it but not always.


  6. This is a coincidence because just last night I was preparing a post showing a similar-looking skipper. You got a good angle to keep almost all of yours in focus. For once boneset, represented here by a leaf rather than flowers, plays a truly subordinate role, except perhaps that the flowers drew the skipper to that vicinity in the first place.


  7. The full name of the song you featured is “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).” As a former New Yorker I can tell you that the 59th Street Bridge, officially the Queensboro Bridge, connects Queens, which is the borough that Simon and Garfunkel grew up in, with Manhattan, where the bridge comes down at about 59th St. I often drove over that free bridge to avoid the 25¢ toll on the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and the Triborough Bridge. I just looked on line and found the toll has risen to $7.50, which far exceeds the inflation rate over the half-century since then.


  8. Well whatever the case might be of skipper or no skipper, I will always call the skippers butterflies and I like you macro shot very much. 🙂


  9. Lottie Nevin says:

    Goodness, I learn so much from reading these posts – it’s an education every time I land here! Great picture, Steve 🙂


  10. What a delightful image of this little cutie, Steve. Back when I was monitoring, skipper season also meant biting flies, clouds of mosquitoes, and HOT. (shudder). It is much more fun for me to see one this way 🙂


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