New Jersey Butterflies

Long-tailed Skipper

Urbanus proteus

Identification: Small—1.8" (almost as large as Silver-spotted Skipper). Above: FW and HW dark brown, with pale, squarish, translucent spots in FW (including a median band), and iridescent blue on inner wings, most intense on the HW. Long, broad tails on HW are distinctive when present, but may be missing. Below: FW and HW brown with 2 darker brown bands across HW. Translucent pale spots show in FW. When tailless could be mistaken for a cloudywing, but shows much more contrast on HW.

NJ Status and Distribution: A vagrant from the deep south whose numbers fluctuate. Most often reported from Cape May County, where it occurs annually. Goes unreported most years from the northern counties.

NJ Range Map-Long-tailed Skipper

Habitat: Open, often disturbed, areas with abundant flowers, and—most often in NJ—gardens.

Flight Period: Most individuals start showing up in late summer and fall (August into October). Extreme dates: North Jersey 7/29—10/8; South Jersey 8/12—11/9.

Larval Food Plants: Various legumes (peas and beans), including tick-trefoils (Desmodium).

Overwintering Stage: Not known to overwinter in NJ.

Best Locations: Gardens in Cape May.

Comments: No other spreadwing skipper in NJ is tailed or shows that iridescent blue above. Finding one of these exotic-looking skippers is usually the highlight of any butterfly outing.

Long-tailed Skipper

Cape May Pt., Cape May Co., NJ, 10/1/12.

Long-tailed Skipper

Cape May Pt., Cape May Co., NJ, 9/13/12, on Lantana.