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Skipper (butterfly)

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Female Essex Skipper, Thymelicus lineola
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Hesperioidea
(unranked): Rhopalocera
Family: Hesperiidae
Latreille, 1809

The Skippers are a family of butterflies, the Hesperiidae. They are named after their quick, darting flight.

They are a bit different from other butterflies, which are classified in the superfamily Papilionoidea. Skippers have their antennae clubs hooked backward like a crochet. The other butterflies have club-like tips to their antennae. Skippers also have generally stockier bodies than the other two groups, with stronger wing muscles. Hesperioidea is very likely the sister group of Papilionoidea.[1]


There are about 3400 species of Skippers. They are usually classified in the following subfamilies:

Many species of skippers look frustratingly alike. For example, some species in the genera Erynnis, Hesperia, and Amblyscirtes cannot currently be distinguished in the field by experts, the only reliable method of telling them apart involving dissection and examination of the genitalia.


Examples include:


  1. Ackery P.R; de Jong R. and Vane-Wright R.I. 1999. The Butterflies: Hedyloidea, Hesperioidea and Papilionoidae. 263-300 in Kristensen N.P. (ed) Handbook of Zoology: a natural history of the phyla of the animal kingdom. Volume IV: Arthropoda: Insecta, Part 35: Lepidoptera: moths and butterflies; and Vol.1: Evolution, systematics, and biogeography: 263–300. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York.

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