Monday, June 23, 2008

The Common Checkered Skipper

"Teaching a child not to step on a Caterpillar, is as valuable to the child as it is for the Caterpillar."

-Bradley Miller

Yesterday, was the first day this past week that wasn't way too hot to be outdoors here in the Bay Area. Well, at least it seemed that way to me! I am beginning to appreciate summer more and more, but learning to like hot weather will take a bit of doing. I can't think straight in warm weather, I tend to do a lot of idle daydreaming and memory visiting. That's not always a good thing, but sometimes it can be nice to visit those moments from way back when. Especially when I think about how brave I was as a little girl. I was a girly-girl, but I loved caterpillars and grasshoppers. I used to carry grasshoppers around, and show them off as my latest pet, as if I needed another, pets were the one thing I was never short of growing up.

Anyway, I would gently pick them up and carry them about, petting the back of their heads and naming them something weird like... Stuart. I have no idea why I found them so intriguing, but I did. Spiders were another story. I don't remember why I developed such a fear of spiders, but something certainly cemented that phobia in my psyche. LOL. AAACCCK! When it came to butterflies, I just let them float about, I never tried catching one. I don't think I ever quite believed that they actually came from caterpillars. LOL. Somehow it seemed to me that they must have been just a little bit angelic rather than something earthly.

One day, back in the mid 1990's I was in a toy shop, and found a butterfly kit. For a small price I could send away for the live caterpillars of Painted Lady butterflies. It took about a week to come by mail, and while I waited I put together the little habitat that came with the kit. I had so much fun with the first kit, that I bought several more after that. I haven't done that for a long time, but I think maybe I might start again. The company that makes the kits, Insect Lore, is on the Internet, which makes it all the more easier.

Anyway, back to yesterday. I went out in the backyard to look for Elvis, he had been out most of the afternoon, and I found him lying under the pear tree, watching something very tiny hopping and floating between the tree and the tip of his nose. As I got closer, I saw the teeny tiny butterfly, and it looked perfect. Like it was only a day old. I grabbed my camera, and waited patiently with my kitty for the butterfly to fully open it's wings. When it did, I was amazed. It was indeed perfect. It was a lot whiter then it appears in the photos, and it was probably the smallest butterfly I have ever seen. I didn't even realize at first that it was a skipper. It took a bit of research to find that out, although I should have known by the eyes that it was from the skipper family.

It has been a big year for Yellow/Black Swallowtails, which I haven't been lucky enough, so far, to be able capture with the camera, but I haven't seen very many Skippers at all, and I don't remember ever seeing a checkered one. It was a nice treat to be sure. I need to go and check on Elvis in a few minutes, but you can bet I will bring the camera along. You never know, maybe today will be the day I get a photo of a Swallowtail, but if not, I will be happy with whatever treasure I do find!

"Common Checkered Skipper" Pyrus communis
Berkeley, California
June 22, 2008
Late Afternoon


Mike said...

We did the butterfly thing last year with the kids. The loved it! We arwgoing to do it this year too, but we haven't gotten around to it yet.

That Skipper is kind of creepy, yet cool.

Suzanne R said...

Butterflies must love you and your place and Elvis! It's remarkable that he left it alone, too -- Silver or Socks wouldn't have, and I hate to say what its fate likely would have been. But Elvis always sounds to me like a remarkable cat.

That butterfly kit sounds like a great idea for my grandson Noah's 6th birthday, coming up next month. I'll check it out! Thanks!

Steven said...

Yay! I've not seen one of those in a while now. She looks lovely!