Euphyes pilatka klotsi, Palatka Skipper

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Freshly emerged male form 'pilatka'

Freshly emerged male form 'klotsi'

Freshly emerged male form 'pilatka'

Description: 17-20 mm. This is a fairly large skipper with a mat brown ventral side. Dorsal side is golden orange and with a dark brown margin. Males have a black stigma. There are two subspecies of E. pilatka in the Keys. Form E. p. pilatka (Key Largo) - males have more orange on top than males of E. p. klotsi (Big Pine Key). Females of Key Largo race are more orange as well with form klotsi being brown above with only small blotches of golden yellow above. 

 

Habitat and Distribution: Marshes, swamps in coastal SE United States. Form pilatka is found in Key Largo and form Klotsi can be found in the pinelands of Big Pine Key

 

Host Plant: Sawgrass (Cladium jamaicensis)

 

Natural History: We have spent considerable amounts of time observing E. p. klotsi on Big Pine Key. Small patches of sawgrass in low lying areas of the pines during the winter and early spring are a good time to observe this butterfly. Each patch of grass usually contains one male that perches on a tall piece of grass in the middle of the patch. He is undoubtedly awaiting emerging females. These males viciously attack anything that flies in the vacinity of the sawgrass patch to deter competition of rival males. I've seen sawgrass skippers attack gulf fritilaries, dragonflies and even a mocking bird that was perched on a low branch near the sawgrass. Females are more difficult to find in the wild. Larvae, like most skippers, form a tent out of blades of grass and hide inside. When larvae are larger, they will attatch 3 or 4 pieces of grass together making them quite easy to find as the tents are quite obvious. 

 

Freshly emerged female form 'klotsi'

Freshly emerged male form 'klotsi'

Freshly emerged female form 'klotsi'

Freshly emerged female form 'pilatka'

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