|Woodland Skipper Butterfly – Ochlodes sylvanoides|
Family: Hesperiidae – Skippers
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Live adult skipper butterflies photgraphed at Sanders County, Montana
Family Hesperiidae: Skipper Butterflies comprise nearly 3,000 species worldwide, 250 of which call North America home. Roughly one third of North American butterflies belong to this family. Skippers are named for their rapid, erratic flight. Skippers differ from the true butterflies in their proportionately larger bodies, smaller wings, and hooked antennae, among many other structural differences. The skipper family is further divided into subfamilies. Skippers can be the most difficult butterfly species to identify; their markings are maddeningly similar.
Grass skippers (subfamily Hesperiinae) are usually small orange and brown butterflies. Adults rest with wings closed or bask with hindwings open flat and forewings at an angle (the "jet plane" position), a posture unique to grass skippers. They are fast, erratic fliers. Larvae feed on grasses.
1. Opler, Paul A., Harry Pavulaan, Ray E. Stanford, Michael Pogue, coordinators. 2006. Butterflies and Moths of North America. Bozeman, MT: NBII Mountain Prairie Information Node
Order Lepidoptera, which contains both butterflies and moths, includes at least 125,000 known species including 12,000 in North America. Butterflies are revered for their brightly colored wings and pleasing association with fair weather and flowers.