Emergency Insect Rescue: Helping a Skipper Butterfly to Safety
- Skippers are butterflies
- They come from the Hesperiidae Family
- They have larger eyes than butterflies
- Grass Skippers fold their wings when resting
Insects Need Our Compassion, Too
Sure, it looks like this skipper is reading the newspaper. But, we all know skippers can't read.
This photograph comes from the afternoon when I found this little guy laying around in my background. The place he chose to rest was right smack in the path of where the dogs go potty.
I wasn't sure if the skipper was injured or resting. I know most people wouldn't care, but it bothered me. I knew I had to do something to get it out of path of the dog's big feet.
First, I took a bunch of pictures. And, then I took action.
I'm going to take you on this little adventure of the backyard nature hunting variety because insects need our help sometimes, too.
How It All Started - Little Lost Skipper
One day, I was taking care of my sister's dog. I let the dogs outside to do their business. As we were walking back in, I noticed this little skipper resting on the cement. Can you see it? Right there at the edge of the grass in my photo. A tiny little thing. I rushed the dogs back in, grabbed my camera, and went to inspect.
I sat watching it for a minute or two. I took a few photos, then started to worry about it. The ants were crawling all around it, which made me wonder if it was sick or injured. It pushed them away with it's feet (if skippers have feet!)
It was right in the path of where the dogs run out to do their business. If I left it there, it was sure to get squashed eventually. After thinking about it, I decided to mount a rescue.
A wonderful way to learn about butterflies. You can see them grow then release them to the wild.
Take part in the life of a butterfly
These insect kits are awesome! I've seen my nieces get really excited as they watched their caterpillars turn into butterflies, waited for praying mantises to hatch, and saw what ladybugs start out as. It's educational and fun! I wouldn't mind having one of these myself.
This kit comes with everything you need to grow your own butterflies. It includes a certificate to send away for five caterpillars, then you're on your way.
Put on Our Rescue Hat
Okay, it wasn't all that dramatic. We're talking a skipper, not a bear. I've taken insects and moved them to safer places many times before. So, it isn't as if this was my first. Still, I was nervous about hurting it while trying to save it, so I did this really gently.
I found a section of the newspaper. I didn't want to crush it in the process, so I carefully worked the paper under it's legs. It stepped on the paper and sat there as if it had been waiting for a lift.
And then, I walked around the backyard searching for a safe place. It was kind of neat being so close to the skipper. I was able to take photographs while holding it almost up to my face. I don't think I've ever been that close to one before!
After looking at all our bushes, I found one with large leaves that I could place it on. I slowly worked the paper onto the leaf and my passenger stepped off. I watched it for awhile then left it alone.
Our Trip Around The YardClick thumbnail to view full-size
Skippers are Part of the Butterfly Family
The smaller cousin
Skippers look like moths from a distance and are part of the butterfly family Hesperiidae. Skippers can be found worldwide.
Skippers go through the same life cycle as butterflies: egg, larval, and pupal. Skippers have a different antennae than butterflies. Where the butterfly antennae is like a club, the skipper antennae is more like a hook. Their eyes are larger and their bodies heftier than typical butterflies. they tend to have smaller wings than their cousins.
I believe the type of skipper I rescued is called a Fiery Skipper. Fiery Skippers are found from California to New Mexico as well as other parts of the United States. Fiery Skippers are about 1-1/4 inch long. They have spotted wings with a band around the edge. They are usually an orangish brown color. Their antennae are short.
Their habitat is grassy lowlands and lawns. I see them around the neighborhood regularly. They must hang out in the grass in people's yards.
Do you like insects?
Insects are interesting to me
I find insects fascinating. The way they spread their wings, build webs, scoot across the yard--it's all remarkable. Seeing them close up is a treat.
I'll admit that I don't care for some spiders. And, I can really do without fleas and wasps. But for the most part, I enjoy observing insects and watching them as they go about whatever they are doing.
Get Close To Bugs
Would you like to see eye to eye with insects? Try one of these insect observatories for a safe way to handle and observe insects.
For the serious bug watching...your very own observation studio
The Rescue is Complete - All safe and sound
After searching the yard, I found the right bush with large leaves. I gently moved the skipper from the newspaper to a sturdy leaf. All this time, it had not spread it's wings or tried to flee the newspaper.
We stared at each other for awhile, then I left. I figure I had given it a fair chance to survive. It might get eaten by a bird or die on the leaf. But maybe it would catch it's breath, then finish the day's chores.
I came back about an hour later and my little friend was gone. I searched the leaves and grass under the bush but found nothing. Looks like all the skipper needed was a little bit of a rest.
All in all a good deed done!
Skippers Mating in Napa, CA
Why do we love Skippers and Butterflies?
Have you ever noticed that some insects give us the creeps while others don't? I know people firmly afraid of spiders who would giggle with glee if a Ladybug landed on them.
What is it about butterflies and skippers that make us love them so? They are certainly more revered than moths. I suspect it has something to do with the beautiful colors and patterns. Even the Skipper has the neat folded looking wings with all those spots.
It may also be the benefits to our gardens. Both are pollinators. They help our gardens become the beautiful blossom and fruit filled wonders we enjoy.
Truth be told, I have never heard of anyone ever being attacked by one of these winged beauties. You don't hear "Man bitten by Skipper dies en route to hospital." No, they certainly don't rate in that category.
I found some beautiful Skippers on the Backyard Biology website.
I hope you enjoyed my adventure. If you're a fellow critter rescuer, tell us about one of your rescues.