By Elizabeth Mann
This beautiful butterfly is one of the largest skippers. Skippers are smaller than common butterflies and usually feed on grass. Skippers were given this name because of their appearance to skip as they fly.
Long-tailed Skippers can be found in the jungles of Costa Rica drinking from the brightly colored flowers. They live in Central and South America and up into southern North America. The Long-tailed skipper is easily recognized because of its long “tails” that protrude from its wings. They also have blue and green scales that have the appearance of hairs along their backs.
The Long-tailed Skipper’s caterpillars feed on plants in the bean family and sadly is thought of as a agricultural pest by bean growers . I welcome the Long-tailed Skipper in my “Secret Garden” and enjoy taking photographs of this unique creature.
While visiting my garden the Long-tailed skipper deposited eggs on my butterfly pea plant. This Skipper likes to lay its eggs in groups. They even will lay eggs on top of each other. When ready to hatch the tip of the eggs will turn a darker color.
After hatching, the Long-tailed Skipper caterpillar must hide from predators. Some of their predators include wasps, birds, spiders, ants, dragon flies, and frogs. The caterpillar will choose a leaf and start working on creating a shelter to hide inside. It makes a shelter by chewing out a piece of the leaf and wrapping it around itself. The caterpillar hides in its shelter during the day, but eats at night when fewer predators are around. Long-tailed skipper caterpillars have earned the name “bean leafroller” because of their ability to camouflage themselves under leaf section they have rolled .