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by Valerie

January, 2008

Southern Skipperling

southern skipperling

Many butterflies dazzle us with their spectacular colors and big wings. A large group, though, is much less eye-catching because they are small and usually brown or orange. While skippers are generally considered butterflies and not moths, they belong in a separate superfamily (Hesperioidea) from all other butterflies (Papilionoidea). Skippers get their name from their characteristic erratic flight. With tiny wings and strong flight muscles, they tend to dart and dash quickly between flowers while feeding, making it hard to get a good look at them.

The southern skipperling (Copaeodes minimus) is the smallest skipper in North America. As is typical of the group, it has large eyes and small pointed wings. Many skippers hold their wings at odd angles, so that all four wings are separated. They often do this when warming up in the sunshine on a cold day. At other times, the wings are held up flat against each other so the tops are rarely visible. There are several small orange colored skippers in our area, but only the southern skipperling has the white diagonal ray visible on the lower wing. When seen with other similar skippers, it is also evident that it is the tiniest.

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