Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Uncommon to rare in North Carolina, Byssus is a largish skipper found throughout the southern half of the Coastal Plain, usually in powerline clearings and other grassy areas adjacent to moist woods, where its host plant, Eastern gamma grass (Tripsacum dactyloides), grows.

Croatan National Forest, Craven Co., NC 8/26/2012.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

New Hanover Co., NC 8/12/07.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Croatan National Forest, Craven Co., NC 8/26/2012.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Byssus Skipper is very rare in the Piedmont of NC, where it has been seen only twice. This individual is the second for the Piedmont, and the first record for Chatham County. This individual is a little atypical, but appears to be a Byssus. Compare with Meske's Skipper, which is brighter orange and doesn't have the contrasting yellowish wing veins, and Yehl Skipper. Note the whitish area below the blackish antennal clubs -- this strong contrast is not found in Meske's or Yehl.

New Hope Game Land off Old Hope Valley Farm Road, Chatham Co., NC 9/20/08.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Same individual as above.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Same individual as above.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Byssus Skipper is a bright orange butterfly (though not so bright as a Delaware Skipper) that can be identified below by the pale chevron on both the forewing and the hindwing. Byssus also has pale veins, a feature shared by the common Dion Skipper and a trio of very rare species: Berry's, Arogos, and Rare Skippers.

Southern Broken-Dash is similar in coloration, but the two are not likely to be confused with a good view. The congener Rare Skipper (Problema bulenta) is similar, but the pale chevron means separation is not a problem.

Craven Co., NC 8/31/08.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Female, Brunswick Co., NC 8/25/07.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Same individual as above.

Female, Brunswick Co., NC 8/25/07.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)
Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)
Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

The rainy summer of 2003 was a good one for this species in NC - this male was one of 5 on the Wilmington count.

Tinga Nursery, Castle Hayne, New Hanover Co., NC 8/23/03.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

On the Croatan count the next day we had an amazing count of 31 Byssus Skippers, especially incredible considering that this species had never been found on the count before! Male, Croatan National Forest, Carteret Co., NC 8/24/03.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Male, Croatan National Forest, Carteret Co., NC 8/24/03.

Female, New Hanover Co., NC 8/12/07.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Since photographs of Byssus Skipper are relatively rare, here's a series of different individuals. This one has an abnormally dark splotch and bright chevron on the hindwing.

Holly Shelter Game Land, Pender Co., NC 9/3/03.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Here's a Byssus with a lot of wear, nectaring on Eryngium integrifolium.

Croatan National Forest, Craven Co., NC 9/6/03.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Moderately worn.

New Hanover Co., NC 8/28/04.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Nice and fresh! As you can probably tell, Byssus Skippers tend to be relatively easy to photograph.

New Hanover Co., NC 8/28/04.

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

Takeoff, showing a bit of the pattern on the upper side of the hindwing. From the amount of orange, it appears this is a male.

New Hope Game Land off Old Hope Valley Farm Road, Chatham Co., NC 9/20/08.

All photographs and text ©2013 by Will Cook unless otherwise noted.