Skip to main content

Long-tailed Skipper alert!

A long-tailed skipper, Urbanus proteus, rests in a garden in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. I took this photo on November 8, 2006, and there were plenty of the iridescent-backed tail streamers. One expects to see this tropical butterfly in South Texas and Florida - the northernmost limits of its massive range, which extends south to Argentina.

 Photo: Pat Deering

One does not expect to stumble into long-tailed skippers in Ohio, but it happens occasionally. These butterflies are powerful flyers, and like some southern birds they'll stage periodic northward movements far beyond their normal haunts. Pat Deering was inspecting the field behind her Licking County, Ohio house last Sunday, August 26, when she was floored by the presence of a long-tailed skipper nectaring on tall ironweed.

Photo: Pat Deering

Fortunately Pat had her camera handy and was able to make these excellent images, thus documenting another record of this southern immigrant. We don't see many records of long-tailed skipper in Ohio, and they may not even turn up annually. I did write about another record back in 2008, HERE. Even back then, I was beating the drum about Lepidoptera (butterflies and skippers) and Odonata (dragonflies) as hyper-responders to subtle increases in temperatures. I think we'll continue to see an increase in records of powerfully flying southern insects such as these skippers, and others.

Photo: John Pogacnik

Pat wasn't the only one to have a long-tailed skipper this year - John Pogacnik found the one above in his Lake County yard on August 23, and remarkably, another before that, on August 11. I have heard of at least two other long-tailed skippers this year, which I imagine is the largest influx ever reported in a season in Ohio.

I'm sure there are other long-tailed skippers out there. They're likely to turn up on ornamental flowering plants in gardens, so keep a close watch on the butterflies in your yard. If you find a long-tailed skipper, please let me know.


Sharkbytes said…
I've never seen one of those. Very interesting.

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…