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Summer 2015 Retrospective: Grandeur Hidden in the Undergrowth

September 25th, 2015 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, would you think me eccentric if you came upon me on bent over peering into the undergrowth of a wildflower meadow?

Autumn has arrived on the parting wings of the summer as September winds down. It is becoming a tradition of mine, as means of squeezing a last bit of joy out the season, to embark on a summer retrospective of the winged wonders I encountered.

This year I am choosing to focus on Skippers – a subset of butterflies which often go unnoticed. Skippers are typically quite small, always in motion and supremely difficult to identify.

Dreamy Duskywing

This nondescript skipper would not win a beauty contest. But it is a summer highlight because it is only the second Dreamy Duskywing I have ever found. Truthfully, I cannot be certain it is a Dreamy as Duskywings are notoriously difficult to distinguish from one another. But I am confident enough to make the call.

I was intrigued by the way this one perched so obligingly on the daisy-like flowers which are rather dreamy themselves with their pinwheel whirl of feathery white petals. A simple white flower, a deceptively complex brown skipper and a textured background of June greenery – nature’s elegant simplicity in fine form.

Arctic Skipper

Next up: the Arctic Skipper. Not the best photo of this classy skipper. But it is the best I could capture of a tiny winged marvel which measures all of a half inch in size.

This early season species is one of the more gaudily patterned Skippers – checkerboard orange and black on the top side and tan with creamy spots on the underside of the wing. A standout even when dwarfed by the broad leaves around it.

Tawny-edged Skipper

Staying with the half-inch sized skippers, I present the Tawny-edged Skipper – named for the orange leading edge of the forewing. There are a half dozen other Skippers that closely resemble the Tawny-edged which makes photographing it highly desirable.

I admired how this one perched on a Daisy as if to allow a sense of perspective of its size. Or perhaps it was taking advantage of the palette of snow white to show off its orange and black garb. A dash of purple in the background for extra contrast finishes the portrait.

Silver-spotted Skipper

Let’s conclude with one of the larger members of the Skippers – the striking Silver-Spotted which tapes out at two inches when its wings are spread full. It is distinguished by the bright silver-white spot on the hindwing and the yellow-orange band on the forewing. Easily the most photogenic of the Skippers which inhabit these parts.

Skippers remind me that nature’s elegance often comes bundled in the tiniest of packages. Each half-inch specimen is a metaphor for the grandeur that hides in the undergrowth. So call me eccentric if you will. It will not deter me from Skipper hunting in the wildflower meadows.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at www.mdyetmetaphor.com or the novel online companion at www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog.

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