Recently I came across two twin-spot skippers (oliguria maculata) in Monroe County. Although the butterfly was first described in 1865, remarkably little is known about it.
This is one of the easiest skippers to identify. It displays three white spots on the ventral side of its hindwing. However, two of the spots are located very close to one another. These are often referred two as the twins. For some reason, the third spot is sometimes called the other sibling. However, in the hallowed halls of academia, some taxonomists have long argued the butterfly should be renamed the three-spotted skipper. However, as of now, their augments have fallen on deaf ears.
One of the mysteries swirling around this butterfly is why it has been documented from only 22 counties in Georgia. Its primary range extends northward from Florida is our coastal counties. It is also listed as being found away from the coast in Screven and Richmond counties of the side of the state; Atkinson and Grady counties is South Georgia; Harris, Meriwether and Coweta counties in west-central Georgia; as well as Houston, Bibb, Crawford, Upson, Monroe, Butts, and Jones counties in central Georgia.
Whenever I see a distribution map such as this, unless an organism lives in a very specific habitat is only found in isolated spots, something else may be the responsible for such a patchy distribution. In this case, it may simply because the folks living in other counties have simply not reported seeing it. They it may be regularly spotting it in their counties. However, they may not realize the importance of their sightings.
It is also interesting to note that lepidopterists know very little about which plants serve as host plants for the small butterfly. About all we know is It has recently been suggested that twin-spotted skippers use bluestem grasses as host plants.
It is impossible for formal butterfly surveys to be conducted across the entire state. That is where we all can help by service as citizen scientists. With millions of Georgians carrying around a smart phone most of the time, if they just happen to run across a twin-spotted skipper in a backyard or elsewhere, they should snap a photo of it. Then record the date and location of the sighting and send me the photo and information. I will send to the folks that keep track of such things.
If you go looking for this butterfly, here is a tip that might help you locate one. For some reason, twin-spotted skippers are often seen nectaring on thistle blossoms.
I believe I have seen twin spitted skippers—they are attracted to my lantana bushes in Henry County. I will pay more attention this summer and snap a few pictures if I do indeed see them! Thank you for the heads up!
That is great news. I am looking forward to your upcoming photos.