Skippers are a type of butterfly that fly erratically, darting about in the air. When looking at a skipper, many people may think it looks more like a moth than a butterfly. These are endearing little creatures, since they look furry in their adult form, and they have large black eyes. Skipper butterflies are great pollinators that might land in your balcony garden looking for a snack. The larvae of these moths aren’t pest caterpillars, as they eat the sap from grasses. These pollinating butterflies should be a welcome addition to your balcony garden.
Skippers in the garden are impossible to identify because there are so many species that look so similar to each other. Even experts have difficulties unless the skippers are dissected. There are about 250 species of skippers that live in North America, but there are more than 3,500 species in the world. The skippers belong to the Hesperiidae family.
Skippers are different from what we normally call butterflies (Superfamily Papilionoidea). But although they aren’t as colorful as the true butterflies, they are still attractive insects. The skippers have larger bodies and smaller wings than the butterflies, as well as other differences. They have backward-hooked antennae tips, while the butterflies have clublike tips. Moth-butterflies (not moths) have comb-shaped antennae similar to the true moths. When resting, the six-legged skippers hardly ever fold up their rounded wings – normally they keep them spread out or angled upward. The most common color of orange or brown, but there are yellow, red, blue, and black and white colored skippers.
Attract these insects to your balcony with a butterfly garden. Other butterflies, such as the monarch butterfly, will visit your butterfly garden, as well, aiding in pollination. Pollinators help produce more numerous and larger fruits and vegetables. Keep an eye out for skippers and try to take a snapshot of one if any land on your container plants. Share your photos at BalconyContainerGardening.com’s Facebook page.