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Skippers: neither butterfly nor moth

by Vanessa Ting

Above: A Skipper appears to captain a crew of ants aboard a flower ship!

How do you tell Skippers apart from their moth or butterfly cousins? Although they greatly resemble moths in appearance, they have decidedly daytime habits. As sun-loving insects, they are active in the early morning and late evening.

If you peer closely enough, you will see that their antennae end in clubs which are long, curved and pointed, like hooks, unlike the moths which have feathered or combed antennae, whereas butterflies have straight club-shaped antennae.

Skippers have large heads and stout, hairy bodies and well-developed legs. The forewings are short and triangular, and in some species, the hindwings may be tailed. In flight, the Skippers are rapid and darting--the common name 'Skipper' refers to their characteristic 'skipping' movement.

When at rest, their wings are spread out, with the forewings and hindwings held at different angles. In this way they differ from butterflies, which always fold their wings at rest.

The Skipper featured above is the Quedara monteithi, of the family Hesperiidae, commonly known as the Grass Skippers or Banded Skippers. The markings are usually on forewings.

Eggs are laid on grasses, herbaceous plants and sometimes tree foliage, and once hatched, the larvae will feed on the host plants. In daytime, the catterpillars will glue leaves of the host plant with silk, to form rolled or folded shelters.

#biodiversitymap #insects #invertebrates #yonghoisen #isb #skipper #quedaramonteithi

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