Butterfliers have a term (probably borrowed from the birders) for butterflies that are difficult to identify.  “LBJ” stands for “little brown job.”

In the last few days I have been photographing some butterflies that can best be called LBJs.  They are grass skippers–small, active butterflies that have a unique way of resting that reminds people of jet fighters.


This is a little glassy-wing, Popmeius verna.


This is the butterfly when its wings are closed.  It has a bunch of subtle little light marks on a dark brown background.  But sometimes the markings are very faint, especially on worn individuals.


On the same milkweed and at the same time there were a couple of these butterflies.  They look very similar, but don’t have the markings.  Or do they, and are they very faint?


This is the skipper at rest.  I think it is a dun skipper, Euphyes vestris.  On about six common milkweed plants along the edge of the road there were at least two dun skippers and a half dozen little glassy wings.

About a week later I found this skipper in our flower garden:


This is a crossline skipper, Polites origenes.  Looks kind of  similar to the other two, doesn’t it?

Here is what it looks like in the jet fighter pose:


I am pretty certain on the IDs of these butterflies–maybe not quite as certain on the dun skipper as for the others.  What tips the scales is that I have a number of photos of the same individuals, so I can see some of the markings from different angles.

These butterflies are sometimes called “witches” because no one can tell which is which.


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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