Recognize this little guy? He has antennae with hooks at the tips and oddly folded wings, so he is a skipper.
Any idea what he may be doing? Let’s look from another angle.
This is a flower bud, so he isn’t feeding. I don’t know if you can tell, but he’s positioned so his back is to the sun.
I caught him on several other plants in the same orientation. If it had been a cool morning, I might have suspected he was warming up. However, the temperature is currently in the high 80s Fahrenheit.
It turns out male skippers have dark patches on their wings called androconial scales that release pheromones to attract females. This male is perching and displaying.
This photograph doesn’t show it well. You can see the bands on the wings better by scrolling down to the skipper section in this butterfly wing anatomy article.
I also wonder if the teal green color on the thorax might be of significance.
Skipper larvae feed on grass. In our neighborhood more and more of the grass lawns are being replaced with artificial turf, which is good in the desert because it requires less water, but unfortunate for skippers.
Arizona’s seasons are often out of sync, especially in the Sonoran Desert. When everyone else is shutting down and getting ready for fall and winter, our wildlife is gearing up. A few weeks ago, we featured some insect eggs. Now we have caterpillars and chrysalids galore.
Take this larva of a queen butterfly resting on a rush milkweed. It is taking advantage of the new growth the plants are putting out after recent rains.
Some of the faster developing larvae have already transformed into chrysalids. They will soon be adult queen butterflies.
The skipper butterflies have already reached adulthood and are ready to lay eggs again.