Meet the new neighbors: fiery skippers

Object of the Month: 03/2013

What is it?:

Fiery skippers – (Hylephila phyleus)

Male specimen (left); female specimen (right)


Range spans from South America to southern/middle U.S.

Where was it collected:

Gardens in front of Science Museum of Minnesota


1-1.25 inch wing spread

Newly found in Minnesota are these fiery skipper butterflies (male left/female right).

These small, rather plain butterflies have in the past been rare visitors to Minnesota. In 2012, however, they started being spotted in larger numbers and in more northern areas of the state than ever before.

These fiery skippers were collected from a colony of the butterflies living in flowers in front of our museum. They were found perching on the ground, in closely mowed lawns or in very low shrubs.

While they commonly live in the southern U.S., why are these butterflies showing up in Minnesota? Is this a permanent population increase or the result of unique weather patterns, both here and down south? Have human activities, like lawn mowing or flower planting made this a more favorable place to live? Only time and research will help us answer those questions.

Leave a comment below about your thoughts on why they are now starting to appear here in Minnesota or ask questions about these unique butterflies. Click these links to learn more about fiery skippers.

Read more about fiery skippers and see a map of their sightings in the U.S.
Growing incidences of fiery skippers in Wisconsin
How can fiery skippers damage your lawn/greenery?
Super close-up photos of fiery skippers
Everything you've ever wanted to know about all kinds of butterflies!!!