Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 10/16/2015

Photo taken on July 23, 2015

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Thymelicus lineola
SW of Calgary
Anne Elliott
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European Skipper
W of Millarville
© Anne Elliott 2015
Darryl Teskey's property
23 July 2015
large eyes
Darryl and Ailsa

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Two European Skippers

Two European Skippers
This photo of two tiny European Skipper butterflies was taken on 23 July 2015, at Darryl Teskey's property. These unusual butterflies have such large eyes : )

"The eyes of Skippers are different from those of other butterflies. They have a space between the cones and rods which allows light from each ommatidium to spill into neighbouring rods, effectively increasing their resolution and sensitivity. As a result Skippers can fly very accurately from one spot to another. This different type of eye structure is one of the reasons why taxonomists place them in a different super-family to all other butterflies - the Hesperioidea."


On this day, five of us spent the day botanizing the land belonging to Darryl Teskey, SW of Calgary and W of Millarville (maybe a 40-minute drive from Calgary). This was the first time I had been there and I'm so glad I was invited to go - I would have missed all sorts of things, including a family of Ruffed Grouse and several fungi. These Grouse were the rare rufous-morph, and we startled them when we were walking through the forest in their direction. Usually, you don't see Grouse because they are so well-hidden. When you get fairly close (sometimes very close) to them, they suddenly "explode" from the tangle of shrubs and plants of the forest floor, making ones heart beat fast! We were taken by surprise when we came across a nearby statue of Saint Francis of Assisi, who is known as the patron saint of animals and the environment. A nice idea, I thought.

Our walk took us over grassland and through forest, many places treacherous with so many fallen logs which were often barely visible. I have never, ever seen so many tiny Skipper butterflies - there must have been hundreds or even thousands of these bright orange beauties that were flying or perched on flowers of every colour.

Fortunately, the rain stayed away until we started driving back to Calgary. Quite a lot of black clouds, reminding me of the tornado that passed through Calgary just the day before (22 July 2015).

Our purpose, as always, was to find and list everything that we saw - wildflowers, trees, grasses, birds, insects, fungi, etc.. Our leader then compiles an extensive list of our finds and this is later sent to the landowner, along with any photos that we might take. Always a win/win situation, as the landowner then has a much better idea of just what is on his property, and we have a most enjoyable day.