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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Skipper Butterflies: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

One of the interesting skipper butterflies facts is that there are over 3500 species of skippers that are recognized today

Skippers are the intermediate form lying between butterflies and moths. The species belongs to the phylum Arthropoda in the animal kingdom. The skipper butterfly is from the family Hesperiidae and order Lepidoptera. The species belong to the class Insecta and was previously classified within the superfamily Hesperioidea. However, the recent taxonomy places skippers as a family within the superfamily Papilionoidea. The species is called skippers for their speed and darting flight.  

There are over 3500 species of skippers present worldwide with eight subfamily classifications: Coeliadinae, Euschemoninae, Eudaminae, Pyrginae, Heteropterinae, Hesperiinae, Megathyminae, and Trapezitinae. While the specific characteristics of each sub species within the family may differ, in general, skippers are characterized by their stout bodies and small heads just like that of a moth. Their butterfly like characteristics come from the fact that their first pair of wings are usually held vertically when they are at rest. They have antennae clubs hooked backward like crochet hooks which is a contrast to regular butterflies as these butterflies have club like tips to their antennae. Skippers also have bigger compound eyes and stronger wing muscles.

Read on to learn more about skipper butterflies. For more interesting animal facts, check out our articles on morpho butterfly facts and mud dauber wasp facts.      

Skipper Butterflies Interesting Facts

What type of animal are skipper butterflies?

Skippers are the intermediate form lying between butterflies and moths. The species belongs to the phylum Arthropoda in the animal kingdom. The skipper butterfly is from the family Hesperiidae and order Lepidoptera. There are over 3500 species of skippers present worldwide with eight subfamily classifications: Coeliadinae, Euschemoninae (regent skippers), Eudaminae (dicot skippers), Pyrginae (firetips and spread winged skippers), Heteropterinae, Hesperiinae (grass skippers), Megathyminae (giant skippers), and Trapezitinae (Australian skippers).

What class of animal do skipper butterflies belong to?

The species belongs to the class Insecta and was previously classified within the superfamily Hesperioidea. However, the recent taxonomy places skippers as a family within the superfamily Papilionoidea. The species belongs to the phylum Arthropoda in the animal kingdom. The skipper butterfly is from the family Hesperiidae and order Lepidoptera.

How many skipper butterflies are there in the world?

It is difficult to estimate exact population numbers of this species due to the various subfamily classifications. There are over 3500 species of skippers present worldwide with eight subfamily classifications: Coeliadinae, Euschemoninae (regent skippers), Eudaminae (dicot skippers), Pyrginae (firetips and spread winged skippers), Heteropterinae, Hesperiinae (grass skippers), Megathyminae (giant skippers), and Trapezitinae (Australian skippers). The Coeliadinae subfamily has about 75 skipper species. The Pyrginae subfamily contains more than 1000 species, making it the second largest subfamily. There are 150 species within the Heteropterinae subfamily, 18 species within the Megathyminae subfamily, and 60 species within the Trapezitinae subfamily. The Hesperiinae subfamily, with more than 2000 species, is the largest skipper subfamily to exist today.          

Where do skipper butterflies live?

Skipper butterflies can typically be found in grass lands, field edges, and woodland glades in locations such as Europe, Central America, South America, and North America, although their exact distribution varies based on the sub-species. The regent skipper, for example, is found in Australia. The small skipper thymelicus sylvestris and others from the Eudaminae subfamily like the Essex skipper thymelicus lineola, can be found in Europe, North America, and the Middle East. Grass skippers are found all over the world, except in New Zealand while giant skippers are native to desert regions like Mexico and southwest United States. The chequered skipper carterocephalus palaemon can be found in North America, Japan, Europe, and Great Britain.      

What is a skipper butterfly's habitat?

Skipper butterflies can typically be found in grass lands, field edges, and woodland glades in locations such as Europe, Central America, South America, and North America, although their exact distribution varies based on the sub species.    

Who do skipper butterflies live with?

Skipper butterflies are mostly solitary creatures.

How long do skipper butterflies live?

An adult skipper can live for about a year or lesser.

How do they reproduce?

A blackish streak with scent scales can be found on the forewings of males which are used to attract mates. The abdomens of males and females usually lock together while the male skipper fertilizes the female's eggs. Females typically lay between 100 and 300 eggs within two to three days of mating. Eggs are usually laid on leaves, leaf axils, stalks, or flowers.

What is their conservation status?

The populations of skipper butterflies are not threatened and their conservation status is of Least Concern. The Coeliadinae subfamily has about 75 skipper species. The Pyrginae subfamily contains more than 1000 species, making it the second largest subfamily. There are 150 species within the Heteropterinae subfamily, 18 species within the Megathyminae subfamily, and 60 species within the Trapezitinae subfamily. The Hesperiinae subfamily, with more than 2000 species, is the largest skipper subfamily to exist today. Their population is, however, threatened by human activities which have resulted in habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, and invasive species encroaching their habitat.        

Skipper Butterflies Fun Facts

What do skipper butterflies look like?

While the specific characteristics of each sub species within the family may differ, in general, skippers are characterized by their stout bodies and small heads just like that of a moth. Their butterfly like characteristics come from the fact that their first pair of wings are usually held vertically when they are at rest. They have antennae clubs hooked backward like crochet hooks which is a contrast to regular butterflies as these butterflies have club like tips to their antennae. Skippers also have bigger compound eyes and stronger wing muscles. Their wings are well rounded and their forewings are sharply tipped. Dull colors like brown, gray, and sometimes, black and white are common in this species.  

The exact weight of skippers will differ based on the particular species of skippers, but in general, male skippers weigh 0.02 0z (0.50 g) while female skippers weigh 0.02 0z (0.53 g). Skippers usually measure between 0.3-1.4 in (8–35 mm) in length on average and have a wingspan of about 0.98-1.18 in (25–30 mm). These figures can vary though, based on the particular species of skipper butterfly in question. New world giant skippers, for example, can have a wing span of 3.5 in (9 cm).

The small skipper, Thymelicus sylvestris is one of the species of skippers from the family Hesperiidae.

How cute are they?

If butterflies and moths don't creep you out, you may just end up finding them cute.

How do they communicate?

They communicate with the help of scent and sight.

How big are skipper butterflies?

Skippers usually measure between 0.3-1.4 in (8-35 mm) in length on average and have a wing span of about 0.98-1.18 in (25–30 mm). These figures can vary though, based on the particular species of skipper butterfly in question.

How fast can skipper butterflies move?

Despite skipper butterflies being small, they are named after their quick, darting flight. In flight, skippers can use their strong wing muscles to gain speeds of up to 20 mph (30 kph).

How much do skipper butterflies weigh?

The exact weight of skippers will differ based on the particular species of skippers, but in general, male skippers weigh 0.02 oz (0.50 g) while female skippers weigh 0.02 0z (0.53 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The skipper species of butterfly is called skipper butterfly itself, regardless of sex of the skipper. There is no separate name for a male skipper and a female skipper.

What would you call a baby skipper butterfly?

A baby skipper butterfly, whether a small skipper or a giant skipper, is called a larva.

What do they eat?

Larva feed on grass and legumes. An adult skipper will typically feed on flowers, bird droppings, leaves of grass, nectar, and sometimes mud to gain minerals.  

Are they harmful?

No, Florida skipper butterflies or any other sub-species of skipper butterflies aren't harmful.

Would they make a good pet?

While the skipper butterfly isn't normally kept as a pet, if their needs for food and space are met, they can be kept as pets. While caring for them, just make sure you're giving them the right food. Don't expect them to be like a dog or cat though.

Did you know...

Skipper larvae is regarded as a delicacy in Mexico. They're fried in fat, canned, and then sold as the delicacy, known as gusanos de maguey.

The skipper butterfly's birthing process

A blackish streak with scent scales can be found on the forewings of males which are used to attract mates. The abdomens of males and females usually lock together while the male skipper fertilizes the female's eggs. Females typically lay between 100 and 300 eggs within two to three days of mating. Eggs are usually laid on leaves, leaf axils, stalks, or flowers.

Skipper butterflies identification

While the specific characteristics of each sub species within the family of skipper butterflies may differ, in general, a skipper can be identified by its stout body and small head just like that of a moth. Their butterfly like characteristics come from the fact that their first pair of wings are usually held vertically when they are at rest. They have antennae clubs hooked backward like crochet hooks which is a contrast to regular butterflies as these butterflies have club like tips to their antennae. This also contrasts the comb shaped antennae in moth butterflies. The skipper butterfly has bigger compound eyes and stronger wing muscles. Their wings are well rounded and their forewings are sharply tipped. Dull colors like brown, gray, and sometimes, black and white are common in this species.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these snail facts and stingless bees facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Skipper butterflies coloring pages.

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