Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the February 21, 2016 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán MÉXICO

Hammock Skipper, POLYGONUS LEO

Among the new butterfly species volunteer butterfly identifier Bea of Ontario -- this week visiting us at the Hacienda -- has photographed, named, and added to our Yucatan Butterfly Identification Chart, is the handsome little critter shown above.

That's the Hammock Skipper, POLYGONUS LEO, distributed from Argentina in South America north through Central America to Mexico and the Caribbean area, as well as southern Florida in the US, and sometimes straying into Texas and the US southwestern states. In English it's called the Hammock Skipper because in Florida it inhabits hardwood hammocks. Down here a hammock is a "petén," and it's a low rising in a wetland, usually round to oval shaped, and often consisting of dense bushes or trees surrounded by water or grassy marsh. Here in central Yucatan we don't have hammocks so the name doesn't make sense here. Skippers are thick-bodied, big-headed, small-winged butterflies, and there are many kinds of them. We already have about 27 Skipper species at the bottom of our Identification Chart at http://www.backyardnature.net/yucatan/mariposa/.

In Florida, Hammock Skipper caterpillars feed on the tree called Jamaican Dogwood up there, but Habim or Jabim here, a very common member of the Bean Family, Piscidia piscipula, as well as other Bean Family members. Since Piscidia piscipula is so common here, Hammock Skippers are to be expected.

In Florida, Hammock Skippers are known to occur in openings and trails, and that's exactly where we found ours, flitting up and down a trail, in and out of shafts of light. The Butterflies & Moths of North America website says that when adult Hammock Skippers are inactive they rest upside down on leaf undersides, and that they are most active on sunny days, though they mostly fly in the shade.