Monday (Aug 24) afternoon I traveled east to Mahoney State Park where I teamed up with my friend and fellow Lepidoptera enthusiast Jim Reiser and met with a group of charming ladies interested in butterflies. As is the case in most of the state the area needed some rain and it was toasty (mid-upper 90s) with the usual Nebraska “breeze”. But we soldiered on and had a nice discussion followed up with a brief walk to id some butterflies that had braved the heat as well. All things considered we saw quite a few species in a short period of time, among them being a Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) which had been reported in the eastern part of the state for the past several weeks but had not yet made it’s way to my yard in central Nebraska or areas to the west that I had been checking. So add the Fiery Skipper to my “Big Year” species list making it the 102nd.
Fiery Skipper – In recent years this southern species has become a somewhat common late summer stray into the state from its permanent range which extends north into the southern United States. It’s larvae feed on various common grasses including crabgrass (Digitaria sp.) and it likely breeds in the state as time permits but does not survive our winters. As a stray it may show up anywhere there is nectar but is most common in the southeastern counties. The skipper is named for the brightly colored hindwings of the male. The female is more subdued in coloration.
One addendum to the Western Branded skipper (Aug 23) post – This skipper is a NENHP Tier 2 species (see June 14 post for program details).