Silver-Spotted Skipper Butterfly

Photo by: Bryan Reynolds

Epargyreus clarus

The silver-spotted butterfly is a crucial component of ecosystems due to its pollinating nature. The most recognizable feature of the silver-spotted skipper is the large white spot on the underside of each hind wing, hence the name “silver-spotted”. Their dull brown coloring is similar to that of moths, yet it is indeed a butterfly. Skippers also have stout bodies and smaller wings than other butterflies, with a wingspan of about 1¾ – 2½ inches. Their large eyes appear to bulge out from their head and their antennae is short with clubbed ends.

These butterflies can be found in the extremely southern regions of Canada and all throughout the United States, with a concentration in the eastern half. Skippers often have swift, jerky flight paths and frequent the edges of forests, swamps, brushy area, and other open areas. When not actively foraging, adult skippers often perch upside-down on the undersides of leaves. This is when they rest at night or when its cloudy. There are two broods from May to September in most of the East, a single brood to the north and west, and three to four broods from February-December in the Deep South.

Adult skippers feed on nectar from a variety of flowers, mud, and occasionally animal feces. Larvae eggs are laid in leaf shelters that are created by folding down a flap of leaf and tying it down with silk threads from the butterfly. When newly hatched, it is up to the larvae to forage to find food and eventually they leave the old shelter. The pupil stage is when overwintering occurs in a dark brown chrysalis inside the final leaf nest. Leaves of herbs, vines, shrubs, and trees in the pea family, both herbaceous and woody, provide nutrients for skippers. There is a preference for blue, red, pink, purple, and sometimes white and cream-colored flowers. They are not often found in groups, opting for a single lifestyle.

Written by: Christian Newkirk, an undergraduate Environmental Science student at the University of Oklahoma