November 12, 2021
Ben here with the Friday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!
This little guy is a type of grass skipper butterfly called a "sachem" (Atalopedes campestris). Grass skippers belong to the subfamily Hesperiinae, and they're easy to spot because of the distinct way they hold their wings while at rest. The wings are held partially open with the forewings and hindwings held at different angles, which is often called the "jet-plane position."
The sachem can be found year-round in the extreme southern parts of the U.S., Mexico and Central America, along with the upper half of South America. Their range is rapidly spreading northward due solely to climate change, however, and in the summer of 2015, a sachem was spotted in Manitoba, Canada.
Sachem caterpillars feed on grass, and some of their favorite varieties are Bermuda grass, crab grass, and red fescue. The caterpillars will actually spin little nests made from their host grass and silk, and they will build new nests as they grow. The larvae spend most of their lives inside these little shelters.
It's a little late in the season to find sachem right now, but during the late summer, keep an eye peeled around open, disturbed areas like lawns, pastures, parks, and roadsides.
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (www.cbtcares.com).
NATURE PHOTO IDENTIFICATIONS
If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!