Friday, November 4, 2016

Checkered Skippers - Eternal Optimists

The Common Checkered Skipper is one of several butterfly species that appear in this area during late summer or fall.  They are residents of areas south of Blue Jay Barrens and cannot survive the cold winters we typically experience.  Taking advantage of warm summer weather, they expand their range northward, often establishing temporary populations all the way into Canada. 

Plants of the Mallow family serve as host plants for the Checkered Skipper caterpillars.  I always leave a few Common Mallow plants growing along the foundation on the south side of the house to be used by the skippers.  This area warms quickly in the sun and retains heat during the day, attracting skippers by the dozens.

I don’t normally find this species still here in November, but with temperatures well above normal and an absence of overnight freezes, the skippers are still going strong.

The prime activity of the day is reproduction.  Female Checkered Skippers are hurriedly loading the mallow leaves down with eggs.

Not a leaf has been missed.  The eggs, although fertile and numerous, have no futures.  Cold weather will soon cause the death of all life stages of this cute little creature.  New individuals will move in next summer to take another try at making this area part of their permanent range.  One day, if average temperatures continue trending upward, the Checkered Skipper could earn its place as a new year-round resident of Blue Jay Barrens.


  1. I saw one of these a month back and had no idea what it was. Thanks for your informative article!