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White-Skippers

by Jeffrey Glassberg


Male Laviana White-Skipper (Oct. 24, 1994 Penitas, Hidalgo Co., TX)


Female Laviana White-Skipper (Oct. 25, 1994, Santa Ana NWR, Hidalgo Co., TX)


Male Turk's-cap White-Skipper (Oct. 28, 1996, La Lomita Mission, Hidalgo Co., TX)


Female Turk's-cap White-Skipper (Oct. 24, 1994, La Lomita Mission, Hidalgo Co., TX)


East-Mexican* White-Skipper (Sept. 3, 1997, Sierra de Picachos, Nuevo Leon)


Veined White-Skipper (Jan. 5, 1992, Ixtapa Guerrero)


Erichson's White-Skipper (Oct. 25, 1993, Hargill, Hidalgo Co., TX)


Northern White-Skipper (Sept. 11, 1993, Devil's Punch Bowl, Los Angeles Co., CA)



Alana White-Skipper (Feb. 7, 1995, Mismaloya, Jalisco)

Seven species of white-skippers (Heliopetes) are found in Mexico. All but two have been found in the United States, mainly along the U.S.-Mexican border. Based upon features of the hindwing below, I place the white-skippers into three groups.


Group A has prominent black veins on the HW below and includes Veined White-Skipper and Alana White-Skipper.

1. Alana White-Skippers have a striking array of markings on the HW below, in addition to the darkened veins. Although not yet recorded from the United States, they range north to Tamaulipas, Mexico and may well cross the Rio Grande River.


Veined White-Skipper (Jan. 1, 1992, Ixtapa, Guerrero)

2. Veined White-Skippers have few other markings besides the dark veins. Above, they can be recognized by the black band along the FW costal margin. Veined White-Skippers are very rare strays to the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. They range south to Argentina.

The two other groups have a dark median band extending downward from the middle of the HW leading margin.

Group B has this dark band angled inward, toward the body, and includes Laviana and Turk's-cap white-skippers.


Laviana White-Skipper (Oct. 28, 1993, Mission, Hidalgo Co., TX)

3. Laviana White-Skippers have a large dark patch along the HW outer margin below. The inner edge of this patch is approximately straight, and does not follow the contour of the outer margin. Laviana White-Skippers are common residents of the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and range south to Argentina.


Turk's-cap White-Skipper (Oct. 24, 1994, La Lomita Mission, Hidalgo Co., TX )

4. Turk's-cap White-Skippers have a smaller, darker patch along the HW outer margin below. The inner edge of this patch is convex and follows the contour of the outer margin. Above, Turk's-cap White-Skippers have a white ray that shoots through the FW black border to the margin. Turk's-cap White-Skippers are uncommon residents of the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and range south to Argentina.

Group C has the dark band perpendicular to the HW leading margin and includes Northern, Erichson's and East-Mexican white-skippers.


Northern White-Skipper (Sept. 12, 1993, Devil's Punchbowl, Los Angeles Co., CA)

5. Northern White-Skippers lack a black patch near the base of the FW below and the dark median band on the HW below is very curved. Above, males are less marked with black than other white-skippers; females have more extensive black. They are the most northward ranging white-skippers, occurring sparingly throughout much of the American West, north to the Canadian border and south to northwestern Mexico. There is very little overlap in range with other white-skippers.


Erichson's White-Skipper (Oct. 19, 1993, Hargill, Hidalgo Co., TX)

6. Erichson's White-Skippers have a black patch near the base of the FW below that Northern and East-Mexican white-skippers lack. Above, Erichson's White-Skippers are strikingly different from the other white-skippers in that the bases of the FWs and HWs are dark, creating the appearance of a white band in the middle of the wings. Uncommon residents or visitors along the length of the United States-Mexican border, they range south to Argentina.


East-Mexican White-Skipper (Sept. 3, 1997, Sierra de Picachos, Nuevo Leon)

7. East-Mexican White-Skippers (H. sublinea) have markings that are very similar to Erichson's White-Skippers, but lack the black wing bases above, and below. Also, the median dark band on the HW below has straighter inside and outside edges than do those on Erichson's White-Skippers. East-Mexican White-Skippers are endemic to northeastern Mexico, ranging from Nuevo Leon to the Yucatan. Not yet found in the U.S., it occurs within 45 miles of the border.

All photographs this article by Jeffrey Glassberg


14 Mar 1998 / Main Page