Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 10/19/2015

Photo taken on July 23, 2015

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

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European Skipper on Timothy Grass

European Skipper on Timothy Grass
This very small butterfly was quite pale and I wasn't sure if it was a European Skipper or a different kind. Looking at various photos on the Internet, I came across photos of pale Skippers that were identified as European, so hopefully I am right.

This photo 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.

Ken Dies
Ken Dies
Nice photo of this Skipper, Anne. A real easy way to tell a skipper from a butterfly is to look at their antennae. Skipper have a hook at the end of their antennae, butterfly's do not. Many butterfly's also have large eyes. This could very well be a European Skipper ( Thymelicus lineola) but it might not be. Of at least 26 species of Skippers in Alberta many can only be differentiated by magnified examination using a key such as found in Alberta Butterfly's by Bird et. al. There are so many skippers that look the same to the naked eye. When I photograph butterfly's or Skippers I often net them and hold them until I can make an ID. At times they may have to be pinned and examined under a hand lens .
2 years ago. Edited 2 years ago.
Anne Elliott has replied to Ken Dies
Wow, thanks so much for pointing all this out, Ken! Great information. All along, I thought Skippers were butterflies - can't believe it! I will need to add some info to a few of my photos when I get a bit of time! Really appreciate your taking the time to add all this info!
2 years ago.