Peck’s Skipper

With the lower-than-low butterfly numbers this summer, I consider every sighting special. I’ve only seen 3 butterflies in the last week. We’re 12 inches behind in rainfall. The ground’s cracking, plants are wilting, and what few plants that do bloom, don’t do it with enthusiasm. Our temperature’s running in the 90’s.

This Peck’s skipper is relatively common and one of the easier skippers to identify. Identifying skippers can be a challenge compared to that of identifying shorebirds. They both take patience and cooperation from the subject. Skippers can “skip” away so quickly, that you won’t even seem them leave.

This shows its proboscis uncurled and sipping nectar

There are folded-winged and spread-winged skipper. The Peck’s is a folded-winged.

A spread-winged skipper

The above spread-winged skipper is either a female juvenal’s or Horaces duskywing. The juvenal’s has 2 small light spots on the underside of the hindwing, and Horace’s doesn’t.

Peck’s skippers (Polites peckius) have a 1 – 1 1/4 inch wingspan, have 2 to 3 broods from May into October, lay eggs on grasses and are found in open grassy areas. Their range in U.S. covers Maine, west through North Dakota, down through Nebraska, and south to western Tennessee. Forty-five skippers are listed on the Illinois Checklist of Butterflies.

Folded-winged skippers can be exciting if you work with kids. I always used a plastic peanut butter jar because of its wide mouth. Catch the skipper with a butterfly net and put it in the jar. When it settles down, slowly remove the lid and have the child slowly move his index finger toward the head of the skipper. Oftentimes it will walk up on the  finger. If you don’t have a net, you can try getting one to walk on a finger from the plant. It’s not as successful this way. Watch the skipper when it’s on a finger, watch it uncurl its proboscis and sip sweat.


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Therese on July 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Beautiful, as always. Thank you.


  2. If I can catch a skipper, I’m gonna try that finger-walking trick!


  3. Yep, which is ninety degrees too many! I like the purple flowers:)


  4. I wonder why it would want to drink sweat…


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