Silver Spotted Skippers Mating

Today’s image is an example of butterfly courtship.  It’s one of those shots where it’s all about the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time. And of course remembering to have a camera with a macro lens. These guys are Silver Spotted Skippers, ‘Epargyreus clarus’ for the zoologists out there. In the southeast they are plentiful from spring to autumn. And since I enjoy spending time in gardens, I usually manage to get a few decent shots over the course of the summer.

Even so, this is the first time in several years of butterfly photography that I managed to witness courtship and mating. It was nice that the lovers were thoughtful enough to arrange themselves on a diagonal to make the image composition a little more interesting.  Call that a bonus.

Silver Spotted Skippers

This second shot was the courtship ritual. It was obvious something was going on between these two even though I had never seen this species mating before. Luckily they were on a really large Chinese Abelia with ample surrounding space to set up shots. As the courtship ritual progressed it was relatively easy to move around and get good angles. The main problem is avoiding stepping in the surrounding flower beds.

These guys are prolific feeders, always busy. The lack of bright color makes it easy to pass them by in favor of a more brilliant species, but I think that’s a mistake. The contrast with colorful flowers still works and can deliver an interesting shot. The Skipper family are not large butterflies, so you have to get close even with a longer focal length macro lens. Doesn’t seem to bother the butterflies though. So long as you don’t let your own shadow cover them, they seem impervious to humans. This shot was done at an effective 225mm from about a 12 to 18 inches away. Manual focus as always. And f/11 to get some depth of field. Pretty much standard stuff.

It was a lot of fun capturing these images, hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I did taking the shots.


Silver Spotted Skipper at Butterflies and Moths of North America.


Factoid Fun
Taste receptors on a butterfly’s feet help it find its host plant and locate food. A female butterfly lands on different plants, drumming the leaves with her feet to make the plant release its juices. Spines on the back of her legs have chemoreceptors that detect the right match of plant chemicals. When she has identified the right plant, she lays her eggs. A butterfly will also step on its food, using organs that sense dissolved sugars to taste food sources like fermenting fruit.