The Time of The Witches

There comes a time in late summer into fall when the confusing mess of grass skippers is on the wing.  These are the equivalent of the birders’ confusing fall warblers, and like many good birders we have to just be content with noting “skipper sp.”  One could do worse that just assume everything you don’t know is a Sachem, which is more often the case than not.

But ID is doubly difficult for the trio of female skippers dubbed “The Three Witches” — Northern Broken-dash, Dun, and Little Glassywing.  The males are separable with some ease (the stigmas are much different), but the females are very tricky.  Even with this guide in hand you may still have some “spp.” notations in your field lists!

These excellent tips are courtesy of one of my favorite sites, Randy Emmitt’s www.relepphoto.com collection.  Really superb ID tips for most of the eastern butterfly species; highly recommended.

Witch #1: Dun Skipper

Witch #1: Northern Broken-dash Skipper.  The spot band is often referred to as a “backwards 3.”

Witch #2: Little Glassywing [note that the white spot on the bend of the antenna isn't true for all populations of Little Glassywing]

Witch #2: Little Glassywing [note that the white spot on the bend of the antenna isn’t true for all populations of Little Glassywing]

Witch #3: Dun Skipper. In our area, there is often not even a vestige of pattern.

Witch #3: Dun Skipper. In our area, there is often not even a vestige of pattern. The golden head is prominent in fresh individuals but wears off over time.

 

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One Response to The Time of The Witches

  1. Phillip E. Koenig says:

    Lep Log,

    I will be giving a talk on making a lepidoptera survey including skipper identification to the naturalists of Missouri state parks. I would like permission to use Randy Emmett’s photos of the “Three Witches” in my presentation. I will give him credit for his work.

    Phillip E. Koenig LepsofMO@yahoo.com

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