Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Fiery passion

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Fiery Skippers Mating 5574

Fiery passion: while that title may sound like it belongs on a different kind of website, the description is accurate because these mating butterflies happen to be fiery skippers, Hylephila phyleus. You can see that this species is sexually dimorphic; the somewhat smaller male is on the left.

I took today’s photograph, the first of this species to appear here, on undeveloped land in my neighborhood on February 19th.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 6, 2016 at 5:00 AM

48 Responses

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  1. You are a good spotter!


    March 6, 2016 at 5:38 AM

  2. wow that is amazing!! what beautiful butterflies


    March 6, 2016 at 6:46 AM

    • What you might also find amazing is that butterflies can remain coupled while flying about.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2016 at 6:49 AM

      • Your comment reminded me that damselflies do the same, sometimes taking on a lovely, heart-shaped appearance.


        March 8, 2016 at 3:05 PM

        • I’ve seen what you’re talking about: with their slender bodies, damselflies are so flexible. These skippers, being on the chunky side, stayed in approximately the position shown here, close to 180° apart from each other.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 8, 2016 at 3:11 PM

  3. Steven: You sure captured their color beautifully.


    March 6, 2016 at 7:29 AM

    • Originally I wasn’t sure that this was a fiery skipper because the males I’ve seen have generally been a more fiery (i.e. saturated) orange.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2016 at 7:45 AM

  4. The magic of nature

    Giuseppa Sallustio

    March 6, 2016 at 7:42 AM

    • Si dice che la natura può più che l’arte.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2016 at 8:05 AM

      • La natura è arte, perchè tutto viene da essa

        Giuseppa Sallustio

        March 6, 2016 at 9:08 AM

        • Domani negli Stati Uniti sarà Arts Advocacy Day.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 6, 2016 at 9:36 AM

          • how great! Many thnx for your advice. Have a good week!

            Giuseppa Sallustio

            March 6, 2016 at 1:13 PM

            • Thanks. I shall. It’s spring here.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 6, 2016 at 1:17 PM

              • We had very mild weather this winter and many fruit trees already bloomed by the end of January and the beginning of February. It’s a good time to work in the garden

                Giuseppa Sallustio

                March 6, 2016 at 1:21 PM

                • I’ve heard that many places had mild winters this year. That was certainly true here, and I was already showing wildflowers in some of my January and February posts. Speaking of which, I found this Italian proverb that fits:

                  Se Febbraio non febbreggia, Marzo matteggia.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  March 6, 2016 at 2:56 PM

  5. Nice! I haven’t seen fiery skippers in awhile. They are fun to watch~they take off like rockets.


    March 6, 2016 at 9:38 AM

    • They can indeed take off like rockets, and this pair did that several times, but I followed and ultimately found them docile.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2016 at 9:54 AM

      • Aww! That is pretty neat. Your photo really takes me back to when I was a monitor at Illinois Beach State Park. I have a similar photo of Hoary Elfins on my finger, but it isn’t digital.


        March 7, 2016 at 7:42 AM

        • My finger isn’t digital either. Okay, so much for being flippant. You can still scan your old negative or print to make a digital version. With a print, you can also try rephotographing it with a digital camera, even a cell phone camera.

          As for the linked picture, the hardest thing was twisting my left hand into a position where the butterflies on my finger were well lit and simultaneously parallel to the picture plane of the camera.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 7, 2016 at 8:21 AM

          • That’s amazing — both that they landed, and that you were able to get a photo. Every butterfly I see either is going 90 miles an hour in a hundred directions, or is determined to frustrate by landing and leaving every two seconds. Perhaps, for this pair, your finger was the equivalent of any port in a storm.


            March 8, 2016 at 3:09 PM

            • You can see why I called them docile. They didn’t land directly on my finger, but on the ground. I walked over, slowly moved my finger down to their feet, and somehow managed to get them to climb aboard. They stayed put as I stood back up and then while I brought the camera to my eye with my right hand while positioning the butterflies with contortions of my left arm and hand. This time things worked out, but I commiserate with you for the many times when butterflies prove elusive.

              Steve Schwartzman

              March 8, 2016 at 3:21 PM

  6. Great shot! 🙂


    March 6, 2016 at 10:40 AM

  7. Great moment you caught on your camera, feels like a Discovery channel image, beautifully lovely!


    March 6, 2016 at 3:22 PM

  8. You know how much I love skippers! That’s a fabulous image Steve 😀 I very often find skippers in Greece on dusty, dry scrubland.

    • Then you wouldn’t have wanted to be a skipper of this post, Sarah. Similarly, I’ve so far skipped Greece, but I hope to visit someday.

      Steve Schwartzman

      March 6, 2016 at 10:22 PM

      • I’ll just skip over that pun then 😉 I think you’d like Greece Steve. Probably a similar climate but very different being on small islands! Texas is pretty vast. One day I will get round to travelling around the islands! I really want to see the differences in wildlife.

        • In addition to the attractiveness of Greece’s natural features, Western civilization owes a lot to its ancient culture as well as to its language.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 8, 2016 at 7:15 PM

          • Absolutely!! Tracing the roots of culture and language through the history of the islands is fascinating 🙂 So many influences have been swapped between the different inhabitants of modern Greece. I love the cultural mixes of the Mediterranean!

  9. Hmmm…so much for being a family friendly site. I wouldn’t want to be a butterfly and have to face away from my mate. So impersonal. 🙂

    Steve Gingold

    March 7, 2016 at 3:55 PM

  10. Wonderful photo .. And I now know something new. Thanks!


    March 8, 2016 at 1:22 PM

  11. Some may say that’s a little risqué for a wildflowers blog, Steve. 😉 Well captured!


    March 9, 2016 at 3:41 AM

  12. fantastic!


    April 4, 2016 at 10:35 AM

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