Sunday, September 26, 2010

Funereal Duskywing

This butterfly, nectaring from cosmos in my August garden, could be in formal attire or dressed in mourning colors with a white petticoat showing under the black dress.  It's the descriptively named  Funereal Duskywing with sooty wings and white fringe along the edges of the hindwing.  This lovely Funereal Duskywing , Erynnis funeralis is just one example of the skipper butterflies.  Taxonomists do not consider skippers to be “true” butterflies because they differ in so many ways.  For example, skippers look a little like moths with their stocky, feathery bodies and big, cute eyes.   The tip of a skipper’s  antennae has a curved, pointy club. To me it looks like a sickle or a pointed hockey stick.  True butterflies’ antennae do not curve back.   As this Duskywing demonstrates, skippers are usually cloaked in subdued shades of charcoal, chocolate, amber, copper, or bronze.   Larval host plants for the Funereal Duskywing include alfalfa,  indigo, vetch, and rattlebush.  Remember, if you want butterflies, you have to provide food for the babies and nectar for the adults.


tindelp said...

I found a skipper very similar to this....dead, but in excellent shape. Though it looks to be this, I live in northeast Texas and the books I have don't show it common here. Any suggestions of what looks just like this, but near Paris, Texas?

tindelp said...

do funereal duskywings habitat northeast Texas? If not, what similar species could it be that I found?

Sally said...

@ Tindelp: Yes, you could have a Funereal Duskywing! “Butterflies of Houston & Southeast Texas” by John & Gloria Tveten describes this skipper’s range: “from Texas and the Southwest to tropical America to Argentina.” My 1981 “Field Guide to Butterflies” by the National Audubon Society says their range includes: “California, S. Nevada, S. Utah, Colorado, and W. Kansas south to Argentina and Chile. I hope you will see more of these beauties. I have only seen the one that I photographed. Cheers!