Fiery Skipper
Hylephila phyleus (Drury)
Family: Hesperiidae (Skippers)
Subfamily: Hesperiinae (Grass Skippers)

Photo courtesy Pete Williams, Gulf Breeze, Florida
June 1, 2009

Identification: The antennae are very short. The male has a wide black stigma. The underside of the hindwing is scattered with small black spots. The female upperside is dark brown with a very irregular orange band. Underside of the hindwing is pale brown with paler checks. The males perch in lawns and grassy swales to wait for receptive females. Eggs are laid singly under leaves and also on other plants and objects. Caterpillars eat leaves and roll and tie them to make shelters which lie horizontally in the sod. Several broods occur from May to August in the north, all year in Florida and South Texas. The caterpillar hosts plants are Bermuda grass, crabgrass, St. Augustine grass, and other grasses. Adults take nectar from flowers of a variety of plants including sweet pepperbush, swamp milkweed, asters, sneezeweed, knapweed, ironweed, and thistles. The preferred habitat is sunny, open areas such as fields, lawns, gardens, levees, roadsides, and second-growth scrub.

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