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Butterflies of Mexico, USA & Canada
Fiery Skipper
Hylephila phyleus  DRURY, 1773
Family - HESPERIIDAE
subfamily - HESPERIINAE
Hylephila phyleus, male  Adrian Hoskins
Introduction
The genus Hylephila contains 21 known species, all confined to the neotropical region, with the exception of H. phyleus which has a range extending from Canada to Argentina.
Butterflies in this genus are characterised by having golden brown uppersides, with jagged dark borders, and dark streaks in the discal area of the forewings. In all species the males are noticeably brighter than the females. The underside wings of both sexes are yellowish or straw-coloured, with contrasting brown or blackish spots which vary in size and shape from one species to another. In all species the antennae are short and yellowish.
Hylephila phyleus is distributed across the Americas from Canada to northern Argentina.
Hylephila phyleus, male  Adrian Hoskins
Habitats
Hylephila phyleus is a cosmopolitan species found in grassy habitats of all kinds, at altitudes between sea level and at least 3000 metres. It probably breeds over a wider altitudinal range than any other species of butterfly in the world, with the possible exception of Vanessa cardui.
Lifecycle
The eggs are pale greenish-white, and laid singly on the underside of leaves of the foodplants.
The larval foodplants are grasses including Canna, Panicum, Cenchrus, Eriochloa, Digitaria, Axonopus, Saccharum, Paspalum, Poa, Eragrostis, Agrostis, Stenotrphum and Cynodon.
The caterpillar when fully grown varies in colour from yellowish brown to drab green, and is marked with dark longitudinal stripes along the back and sides. It lives within a nest made by binding grass blades together with strands of silk.
The chrysalis varies in colour from pale green to yellowish brown, and is mottled on the back with dark brown. It has a dark longitudinal line along each side, and another along the back.
Adult behaviour

The adults are usually encountered in colonies of at least a dozen, and often share their breeding habitats with other Hylephila species.

Both sexes bask on rocks or among grasses, with the wings held in the characteristic Hesperiine position - hindwings outspread, and forewings held up at 45 degrees. In hot conditions at midday they close their wings to regulate their body temperatures.

Both sexes visit a variety of flower species for nectar, including Senecio.

Hylephila phyleus, female  Adrian Hoskins

 

 

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