One of the most abundant butterflies in my backyard now is the long-tailed skipper. Although this butterfly can be seen through the state somewhere in the state from April through November, I seem to see more around my Middle Georgia home in the fall.
The long-tailed skipper is to identify. The bases of its wings and body are cloaked in long blue-green scales that give them a shaggy appearance. From above, the butterfly’s wings are brown and marked with light-colored spots. When viewed from beneath the wings are decorated with two dark brown bands. In addition, each hindwing is equipped with long tails.
Sometimes, however, you will find what appear to be long-tailed skippers but they lack the species’ characteristic long tails. These butterflies are not a different species; they are simply individuals that have lost their tails to wear and tear.
On cool mornings this time of year, I often seen long-tailed skippers with their wings outstretched with their backs facing the rising sun. This enables them to warm their bodies so they can begin nectaring.
Unlike most other butterflies, long-tailed skippers often feed upside down.
The long-tailed skipper is one of a handful or our butterflies that emigrate. Each fall many of them escape cold weather by flying into Florida.
The long-tailed skipper uses a number of different legumes as host plants. This list includes bean, beggarweed, wisteria and beans.