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Least Skippers (Ancyloxypha numitor)

Although rainy 2004 was a bad year for "true" butterflies, it was a good year for grass skippers and a great one for Least Skippers, the tiniest skippers I know of in North Carolina.  They thrive in humid environments and are rarely seen far from aquatic environments.  Spring of 2005 was very rainy, and it looked as though Least Skippers are hanging in there along with skippers in tall grasses and woods butterflies.  By September of 2005, there were dozens in the swamp and territorial battles all over.

Durham, 9/14/05.  This third skipper went to an awful lot of trouble to butt in, but mating proceeded nonetheless.


I spotted this Least Skipper in a grassy area near a wooded creek in Durham on 6/28/04. Durham, 6/29/05.  This skipper had strayed about a city block away from my neighborhood swamp and was visiting white clover blossoms. Durham, 6/23/05.  This is a foreshortened view.  Seen in tall grass at edge of swamp. Durham, 7/12/05.  Taken at pond's edge.  Note how the black border on the ventral side of the forewing contrasts with the others in this row. Next to parking lot for trail to Jordan Lake, Chatham County, NC, 10/16/05


This Least Skipper was moving rapidly through a pocosin (black-water swamp) in Alligator River National Wildlife Reserve in Dare County on 9/25/04. This Least Skipper was perched on some grass blades coming out of Siler's Bog in Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Chapel Hill, Orange County, NC in the morning (10:39 am) on 10/3/04.  Note the short abdomen: this is the only female on this page. Finally, a Least Skipper with a genuinely "weak" flight!  I caught up with it in the usual Durham swamp on 6/18/05. I saw this Least Skipper on a grassy field near a stream in Durham on 7/4/05. This Least Skipper appeared on my Durham street, a long distance from the swamp, on 8/1/05.  Note how the dorsal side of the forewing is almost completely black, and how pale the orange is. Boone, Watauga County, NC,  8/29/05. This Least Skipper seemed unusually small, even in comparison with other Least Skippers in the vicinity, landing on this tiny (⅛ inch across) flower after a remarkably rapid flight.  Durham, 9/3/05. Durham, 9/8/05.  This was one of dozens of Least Skippers I saw one morning in the local swamp.


I saw all of these Least Skippers at the swamp in my neighborhood on 7/5/05.


© Copyright 2005 Dorothy E. Pugh