Long-Tailed Skippers

misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)June 18, 2013

There were two long-tailed skipper caterpillars on some Desmodium growing in my garden - one disappeared yesterday, and the other disappeared today. So, I scoured around the property looking for LTS cats and found three, one small one in my garden, the other three tiny ones on Desmodium roadside. I brought them in to raise myself. I don't know what ate them, because they're pretty well hidden in their nests. Maybe a bird poked its beak in the nest and fed it to their baby or maybe a predatory stink bug?

I'll look for more tomorrow.

I love the teal coloring on LTS butterflies, and I'd hate to be without them. Here's a picture from last year -

Sherry

P.S. When I say I brought a caterpillar "in" to raise myself, I mean on the porch, which is in the outside air.

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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

Sherry, I love those LT skippers! We don't see them here in OK. How big are the adults? As large as an SSS minus tails? I love the teal color, too. They are beauties.

Have you ever seen the Dorantes Longtail?

Susan

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 6:43AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

No, Susan, I've never seen the dorantes longtail. It looks like, if I'm reading my field guide right, they occur in the extreme southern most part of the state, so I possibly could see them here.
The body is about the size of a silver spotted skipper, except they have the long tails added. And the colors are prettier.

Sherry

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 9:45AM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

No doubt they are gorgeous, MissSherry. Thanks for sharing your photos! I love seeing pics of the other butterflies in the US that we don't have our area. Keep them coming!

Susan

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 10:18AM
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spry(9b)

Wow! Those are beautiful! I don't get to see them here in Central AZ. I wonder if they can be found in the higher elevations of the State? hmmm.... I love the teal/turquoise, too, as it is my favorite color. Thanks for sharing!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 10:25AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

spry - I looked in my field guide, and they don't occur commonly in AZ, that's just in the coastal plain of the Southeast. It looks like the light green shaded area that indicates they're uncommon at various seasons barely extends over into extreme southeast AZ. I think this is the same part of the state where so many different types of hummingbirds occur?

I just looked at the cats in the cage, and the biggest one was outside its nest - it's almost fully grown already!

Sherry

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 12:00PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Love love love the Long tailed Skippers! So neat that you found cats. Congrats! I'm going to have to go looking for pics of the cats now. There is an occasional Trefoil that pops up in the yard, but I hadn't connected them as host plants. I see the Skippers once in a blue moon here, and like at your house, they seem to love the Lantana. I have only a few shots of them here in my yard, but they are also on Lantana. Check it out!
Angie

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 12:48PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

They use Desmodium paniculatum/beggar's ticks, which is the weed that makes the triangular-shaped seeds that stick to your clothes. They also reportedly use various cultivated members of the pea family (Desmodium is in the pea family) which can give them a bad reputation.

Here's a picture I took of a cat sometime in the past -

Sherry

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 1:05PM
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bananasinohio(6OH)

Very nice! I keep hoping to find an accidental up here.

The cool blue is so nice with the hot lantana colors. Very pretty pictures.

Elisabeth

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 2:20PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

The biggest of the five cats I brought in to raise pupated several days ago. The others are growing and will be making their chrysalis pretty soon. The cat made a roll in the paper towel on the bottom of the cage, stayed there until it 'lost its head' and made the chrysalis. They always look like they've been out in the snow!

Sherry

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 12:13AM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

WOW!! Very cool chrysalis indeed Sherry. I have never seen a Skipper chrysalis before. That caterpillar is so awesome looking too. I just love the colors. Thanks for sharing the pics. :o)
Angie

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 11:18AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

You're welcome, Angie!

The long-tail skipper in the above chrysalis emerged late yesterday, so I released it this morning. I couldn't tell whether it was a male or female, because LTSs are so dark all over when they first emerge, you can hardly even see the teal color that comes out later.

All the other cats have finally grown (they were TINY when I brought them in, practically hatchlings) and made their chrysalis, or maybe I should call it a cocoon. I read somewhere that some people think skippers are mid way between butterflies and moths. I can believe it, because all of these cats have rolled up in either the edge of the paper towel on the bottom of the cage or their host plant leaves, just like moths do, the only difference being that they don't make nearly as much silk as the big moths. I've got one chrysalis that enclosed in leaves, and the entire thing detached from the rest of the Desmodium stem, so that I've got what looks like a luna moth cocoon.

Sherry

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 8:52PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Hmmm...that is interesting. They are evolving into furry chrysalides then!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 9:43AM
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Leafhead

How I miss my LTSs. I remember the cats from childhood. Beautiful pix.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 4:21PM
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