OCOLA SKIPPERS ARE MIGRATING THROUGH OUR BACKYARDS

       Whenever butterfly migration is mentioned, the monarch comes to mind.  However, while the monarch is undoubtedly our most famous butterfly migrant, a number of other butterflies also migrate.  One of these butterflies is the ocola skipper and it is passing southward through our backyards right now.

       The ocola is far from being our largest (wingspan: 1/5-1.75″) or most striking butterfly.  It is best described as being elongated in shape and dark brown in color. Whenever I see one, it reminds me of a jet airplane.  When it opens its wings, it displays a distinctive white arrowhead-shaped mark.  However, from the side, is appears to be a nondescript small, slender butterfly.  In addition, when its wings are closed, the butterfly’s light veins are distinctive.

       Although the ocola can be seen in Georgia from late March into early November, it is most abundant in my yard in late summer and early fall.  Currently the ocola is among the most common butterflies feeding on our flowers. 

       These distinctively shaped butterflies are feeding at a number of nectar plants including the butterfly bushes, cosmos, globe amaranth, and zinnias.

       Oddly, there is mounting evidence that, for some unknown reason, some Ocala’s actually migrate north in the fall and show up in places such as Ontario, Canada and Massachusetts.

       That being said, I believe it is safe to say that the destination of the ocolas we are currently seeing in our yards is Florida.  In winter, they winter throughout the peninsula of the Sunshine State.  Some even overwinter as far south as Key West.

       Who would have ever imagined this small butterfly could successfully navigate such a monumental journey?

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