|scientific name Epargyreus clarus |
common name Silver-spotted Skipper
River valleys and badlands in the prairie and parkland region.
Adults are most often encountered between late June and early July.
This is Alberta's largest skipper; its 44 to 60 mm wingspan, and the large, silver hindwing patch make it very distinctive. The nominate subspecies occurs in Alberta (Bird et al. 1995).
There is one yearly brood, and mature larvae are green with black bands and a dark brown head. Larvae construct shelters out of the host plant leaves, at first cutting and folding part of the leaf over them, but tying several leaves together as larvae grow larger (McCabe & Post 1977). Pupae hibernate in leaf nests near the ground, often on the foodplant itself (Layberry et al. 1998). The egg is greenish and round. Males are aggressive fliers, and often chase one another (Bird et al. 1995). The Silver-spotted skipper is uncommon in Alberta, and occurs in local colonies.
May be sensitive to valley flooding, but currently secure.
The larvae feed on wild licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota) in Alberta (Bird et al. 1995). Other legume species have also been reported from the eastern parts of this skipper's range (McCabe & Post 1977, Layberry et al. 1998).
Found throughout most of the continental United States, and in southern Canada west to southern BC (Opler 1999). The northernmost population in North America is associated with patches of the larval hostplant in the North Saskatchewan river valley in Edmonton.
Joe Belicek (2014-04-07)
Epargyreus clarus (Cramer, )
In the Edmonton area, I observed and collected the spectacular Silvers-potted Skipper several years in a row, at the bottom end of the McKinnon ravine. In mid to late June, early July, the males patrol the sandy area, sparsely overgrown with Balsam Poplar bushes. Often sitting on a leaf, at about 5 ft. height, males closely watch their patch. Any males encroaching on their territory are vigorously pursued and chased off. The Silver-spotted Skipper is probably the most wary species of all butterflies found in Alberta. On the normal sunny day, the flight is very brisk, to the point that you may clearly detect only the motion, but not the insect. It is not easy to catch them in a net. To aid in observations, I recommend to used a pair of close range binoculars. Bring along a collapsible canvas chair. The one I have comes with a canopy. This provides a shade for you, as it gets hot there in no time. Do not forget to bring bottled water. In Edmonton, the McKinnon ravine is ideal for butterfly watching. The ravine is very accessible, with a paved trail all the way to the Saskatchewan River.
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