I have a very unusual butterfly in my back yard. I call him Skippy. What makes him unusual is that he’s been in the same area of my garden now for three weeks. The same exact area. That’s unusual because butterflies are not territorial. But Skippy has staked out a ten-by-twenty-foot area outside my back porch door where he stays most of the day.
He likes to nectar on the purple verbena planted in a pot nearby and the white clover in a patch of grass. He loves the warm rocks to sun on. He perches on the crepe myrtle bushes that are just starting to put out leaves. Occasionally he hides in a clump of mondo grass.
When I step outside my porch and enter his zone, he flies around me to let me know that this is his place.
Skippy is a Silver-spotted Skipper, Epargyreus clarus. These butterflies frequent roadsides, fields, and backyard gardens throughout North America. Skippers dash quickly from flower to flower, as if they are skipping around the meadow, thus the name, Skippy. (Read more about this species at http://insects.about.com/od/butterfliesmoths/p/Eclarus.htm.)
You ask how do I know that Skippy is a male butterfly? Female butterflies usually are busy looking for host plants and laying eggs. Their host plants include legumes, black locust, honey locust, false indigo, bush clover, and tick-trefoils, none of which I have in my garden.
We had a cold snap and some stormy weather a few days ago. I was afraid I’d seen the last of my little Silver-spotted Skipper. But this morning as I stepped out from my back porch, there was Skippy flying around my head saying, “What do you think you are doing here? This is my place!”