November 19, 2020
Ben here with the Thursday edition of #BenInNature! This is a sachem (Atalopedes campestris), which is a small member of the subfamily Hesperiinae, also known as the grass skippers. It can be found in the southern U.S. down into Mexico and Central and South America.
While the sachem was once fairly uncommon in the northern parts of the U.S., its range has expanded northward pretty rapidly just over the last two decades. Unfortunately, scientists believe this has nothing to do with the sachem suddenly deciding it likes the cold; instead, it's yet another insect that is able to expand its range northward due to climate change.
On a more positive note, if you like to maintain a lawn, the sachem can be a great ally! This butterfly's caterpillars feed on grasses, and they seem particularly fond of nuisance species such as Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) and crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis). The caterpillars probably won't do a whole lot of damage to these species, but if you've ever spent time pulling up crabgrass in your yard, you will probably have an appreciation for the sachem caterpillar's efforts!
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.
NEW: TRIVIA CHALLENGE
You've seen the posts. You've learned the facts. Now, it's time to prove you are a #BenInNature Mega Fan! The museum's education team has developed the #BenInNature Trivia Challenge to identify the most devoted fans out there! Everyone who successfully answers each trivia question correctly will be congratulated by having your own nature selfie posted to the museum's #BenInNature Mega Fan Photo Album on the official VMNH Facebook page! Learn more and download the trivia challenge today by visiting www.vmnh.net/research-collections/beninnature-trivia-challenge.
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!