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Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.



Monday, September 28, 2015

September 2015 Butterfly Bucket List - Fiery Skipper

I'm joining up today with Anna of The Transmutational Garden for her monthly Butterfly Bucket List meme.
This month I can present with confidence, courtesy of identification provided by the friendly folks at Bug Guide.  Ladies and gents, I'm pleased to introduce Mr. Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus).
A form of Grass Skipper (Hesperiinae), this little guy may have been a caterpillar in our own small patch of residual St. Augustine, however it is just as likely he was laid as an egg and then fed on as a caterpillar any of a number of Bermuda clumps I'm constantly finding.  Or crab grass.
While The Hub takes it personally when critters chew on his small patch of lawn, I'm more than happy to share ALL our Bermuda and Crab grass clumps with these tiny charmers!
Less than an inch long, these little guys are in near constant motion, so I was happy to get a few shots while this male was distracted by delicious nectar on Duelberg salvia and mint alike. Men! Give them their favorite beverage...
This is one of three different tiny yellow-orange skipper butterflies I saw for several days running, each of which was readily confused for the others to my amateur eyes.  I won't presume to point out identifying characteristics, but will encourage you to visit the links provided for further photos and information.

Common here due to mild winters and lots (and LOTS!) of grassy areas, the eggs are laid individually on grass stems, which the caterpillar rolls and lays out horizontally for protection.  After pupating, males tend to stake out likely areas to attract females, while the ladies take off in search of Mr. Right.
The Fiery Skipper! Tiny perhaps, but with a presence powerful enough to put this garden blogger on her knees in the grass, crawling to get a shot.  Thanks to Anna for encouraging all of us to go beyond admiration. It is always an adventure finding out who these amazing creatures are that grace our gardens.  

12 comments:

Tina said...

I'm very impressed with your photography, indeed. I've seen those, or some of those, or relatives of those in my gardens, but they are tough to photograph. The pics of the plants are pretty great too. My mint apparently bit the dry dust at the end of summer, but I still have some basil. Happy butterfly-ing!

TexasDeb said...

Tina: Thank you! I just love basil, don't you - the smell! It absolutely is one of my favorites to brush up against in the garden. I try to grow basil every year and eventually let it go to seed for the finches. I also keep some mint I baby along in one corner of a bed just because it knocks itself out this time of year with flowers all the pollinators seem to enjoy. In fact, if you don't think your mint will be back once the weather wets up and cools off, I'll be more than happy to provide you with cuttings. (MORE than happy!)... As you're aware, mint will take over, given any opportunity.

I was pleased to get clear enough shots for the BugGuide-ers to readily identify this handsome little fellow. I'd guessed - incorrectly - that it was one of two other small orange skippers. I should know better than to even guess past "skipper".

Debra said...

I adore the fiery skippers. They were my first intro into the whole skipper category. Your pictures -really- capture their charm. So adorable. Mmmmm ... fresh herbs. I cannot imagine cooking without them. Half of my community garden is devoted to herbs. I took some ribbing for that but to each their own! I'd rather have a mountain of basil than even one yucky okra. haha

Rock rose said...

I think I shall have to come and spy on you one day as you take these amazing shots. I fear it takes patience which I was not born with nor have I developed. That's what it takes to get such great photographs.

Kris Peterson said...

Great photos as usual, Deb! Fiery skippers are regular visitors here too, not that I ever succeed in getting even fuzzy photos of them.

gardeningjules said...

Gorgeous photos of your Fiery Skipper, he looks quite small, you must of been very patient. I am finding Butterflies are moving faster at this time of year as if they know Summer is over and there is not much time left.

TexasDeb said...

Debra: Just yesterday I tried a new (to me) recipe that used chopped basil and oregano from the garden. I was smiling the whole time - the smell of them and the idea I could walk out and snip rather than buy from a store made me happy-happy. I've given up on most veggies but so long as I have any space I'll always try to have herbs. The fact they draw in pollinators scores bonus points for certain!

TexasDeb said...

Jenny/RockRose: You have patience with plants and a great eye for placement that I can only aspire towards. For every shot shown here there are probably 6-7 that were tossed. Though maybe if I spent more time weeding and working the beds and less time out with my camera...

If you did watch me out stalking these butterflies (on my knees in the dirt as often as not) you'd know I've lost my marbles, the fact of which so far, only my family and closest neighbors are aware...

TexasDeb said...

Kris: Thank you! I recognize tiny and orange means a "skipper" of some sort, but getting them sorted out as to type is a skill I lack. Honestly I only know this is a Fiery Skipper because I had the photo to stop and take a leisurely look at later and even then I had to submit it to BugGuide for help. Otherwise these little critters register only as one of several tiny bits of orange dashing about from blossom to blossom.

TexasDeb said...

Jules - you may be right about that faster pace. Winters here are typically fairly mild but even so there's no guarantee of safe temperatures throughout the season. I suppose these little butterflies - smaller than an inch each - are especially vulnerable to our sudden dips below freezing. I'm happy to say farewell to Summer this year. It has been a long wait to work in the beds, past late rains and delayed heat, and we still aren't seeing much consistency in cooling. But the corner has been turned and every plant and creature alike seems well aware!

Donna@LivingFromHappiness said...

Now that is a handsome skipper...love his color. Great shots!

TexasDeb said...

Donna: Thanks on his behalf! I completely agree - he is quite a looker.