Common vs. Rare Butterflies

The recent explosion of butterflies on the greenway trail has sparked some interest into these insects. Bill Day has done an extraordinary job documenting some species in pictures. Two particular species, the Silvery checkerspot and the Hayhurst’s scallopwing, have both been recently observed on the trails, but have different natural histories.

Silvery Checkerspot- Chlosyne nycteis
The Silvery Checkerspot butterfly is a member of the Brush-footed family (Nyphalidae). It lives mainly in wet woodlands. Adults fly from May until early September in 3 broods with gaps between broods. According to the graph below from NC data, this species has been observed most from the middle of August to the beginning of September. This data makes sense considering that you can visit the trails now and spot them by the hundreds. This would seem to indicate that food here is most abundant during this time.

Photo by Bill Day

Hayhurst’s Scallopwing- Staphylus hayhurstii
This species, which is a member of the Skipper family (Hesperidae), prefers disturbed areas like trails. Unlike the Silvery Checkerspot, this species is categorized as rare to uncommon in most of the Piedmont region. However, when they are spotted it is during July and August. You can refer to the map to see how uncommon they really are. There are really no good explanations to why they are uncommon. Their larval host plant is Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album)), which is abundant in this region. It may be that people just overlook them because of their small size (wingspan- 1.375 – 1.875 in). The adults fly from late April until early September so if you are visiting the trails, keep an eye out.

Photo by Bill Day


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s