Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hoary Edge (Achalarus lyciades)

We stopped by the Oconee Wildlife Management Area at the south end of Lake Oconee in search of milkweed plants (Asclepias sp.). Most roads in this section of the Oconee WMA are closed at the moment but, while we were wandering the end of the open section of road, we spotted a number of butterflies feeding on a patch of Heal All (Prunella vulgaris) plants. They were skippers.

Most skippers are frustrating to identify. So, like most things, we start with the simple and move on to the more difficult ones. This skipper had distinct marking on both top and underside of the wings that made it fairly easy to identify. This was a Hoary Skipper (Achalarus lyciades).

Showing both top and underside of the wings

A close view of the top of the wing

A close view of the underside of the wing.

The Hoary Edge belongs to the Subfamily Eudaminae, known as Dicot Skippers. As explained by Wayne at Niches in his discussion of a Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) the larvae of dicot skippers prefer a diet of dicotyledon plants, especially legumes, whereas the larvae of other skippers feed on monocotyledon plants including bamboos, palms, lilies, daffodils, irises, hostas, and orchids.

Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:

- Westcentral Georgia Butterflies by Michael Beohm: Hoary Edge (Achalarus lyciades)

- BugGuide: Hoary Edge (Achalarus lyciades)
[dorsal] [ventral]


Beyond My Garden said...

Yet another example of how "they all look alike" until we begin to really pay attention. Thanks for the lesson.

JSK said...

Fortunately this was an easy one. I'm still struggling with the 'more difficult' ones. Seems to be a lot of minor variations of markings within so many species that make identification so challenging.