May: Skippers

As summer arrives, small, active Skipper butterflies descend on gardens across Charlotte. Their thick bodies, big eyes and narrow wings make them look like moths. But they have the club-shaped antennae that mark a butterfly.

They get their name from their habit of “skipping” from flower to flower.

About 70 different species of Skippers live in North Carolina. It often takes an expert to tell them apart.

Silver-Spotted Skippers are the easiest to spy. They’re the largest of our common Skippers, and eye-catching splashes of white decorate their wings.

Most Skipper caterpillars are too small to be seen. But Silver-Spotted Skippers grow large enough to be worth hunting for. Look for them on locust trees or on false indigo (Baptisia).

Another distinctive Skipper, the Long-tail Skipper, has bluish upper wings and tails like a Swallowtail. They usually show up later in the summer.

Skippers often hold their wings partly open while resting. This is known as the “jet plane position” – a good description for such speedy creatures.

American Snouts

While you’re out looking for Skippers, you might run across another unusually shaped butterfly – the American Snout. They’re named for their long mouths, which look like beaks or pointy noses.

The warmer the weather gets, the more butterflies you’ll see!

A Year in Shamrock’s Gardens, the 2020 calendar produced by the Shamrock Gardens PTA, celebrates 10 years of our school’s butterfly gardens. Thanks to Lexie Longstreet for the generous donation that allowed us to give a calendar to every family and staff member at the school.