Summer is a great time to watch butterflies. Depending on where you live, coupled with the abundance and variety of nectar plants growing in your gardens, it is possible to spot 25 or more species of butterflies in a single day. Currently, I am finding anywhere from 12-17 species a day. It is relaxing to watch butterflies flying from flower to flower. However, I find it even more satisfying when I can identify what I am looking at. With that in mind, I thought I would offer you some tips that will help you tell the difference between two similar butterflies that are likely to be seen in your backyard.
In my neighborhood, my wife and I see the silver-spotted skipper far more often than the hoary edge. However, it is not uncommon to find them feeding close to one another on the same plant.
Both butterflies are similar in size although the silver-spotted skipper is a bit larger with a wingspan that measures 1.75-2.40 inches in width. In comparison, the hoary edge’s wingspan is 1.4-1.75″ wide.
The feature that you can use to most easily tell whether you are looking at is a hoary edge or silver-spotted skipper is the position of the splash of white visible when the butterflies are perched with their wings closed. The white patch of the hoary edge extends inward from the trailing edge of the wing. To me, this frosty patch also seems to be somewhat smeared.
In the case of the silver-spotted skipper, its underwing patch does not extend all the way to the rear edge of the wing. Instead, it is situated near the center of the wing. In addition, this patch takes on a bright silvery white hue. Also, the outer edges of the patch are more clearly defined.