Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

Fantastic Skipper, VETTIUS FANTASOS

from the September 19, 2010 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO

Skippers are members of a family of thick bodied, big headed, stubby winged, fast-flying butterflies that for the most part are dark and void of bright colors and striking patterns. A skipper not fitting that profile at all -- the undersides of its hindwings shining ivory white to silver with veins outlined in reddish brown -- is making its rounds here these days. You can see how prettily it's decked out above.

Volunteer insect identifier Bea in Ontario pegs this as the Fantastic Skipper, VETTIUS FANTASOS, a member of the Grass Skipper Subfamily (Hesperiinae) of the Skipper Family (Hesperiidae).

It's clear why we have so many here. The species' adults take nectar from Bougainvillea, morning glories and Yellow Oleanders -- all growing here in abundance. The caterpillars feed on grasses, especially the genus Lasiacis, which is a black-grained, woody, climbing grass also very common here. Since the species is distributed from northern Mexico (rarely straying into Texas' lower Rio Grande Valley) through Central America to Paraguay in South America, it could hardly not be here.