COLUMBUS – A type of butterfly known to inhabit portions of Central and South America, as well as New England and the southern states, has been observed in Ohio for the first time on record, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
Members of the Ohio Lepidopterists report observing the clouded skipper (Lerma accius) last August and September in at least seven southern Ohio counties, thus marking the first-ever recorded presence of this skipper in the state.
The clouded skipper has dark brown wings that measure 1-1/4 to 1-3/4 inches in length. It is commonly found throughout the year in Florida and south Texas, and known to range as far west as Arizona and north to New England.
The clouded skipper also is found throughout Mexico and as far south as Venezuela and Colombia.
This particular skipper inhabits forest edges and clearings near rivers and swamps. It feeds on a variety of white, pink and purple flowers including lantana, selfheal, shepherd’s needle and buttonbush.
Members of the Ohio Lepidopterists observed several specimens in a portion of the Miami-Whitewater Forest in Hamilton County during late August and early September.
A second team of lepidopterists observed the clouded skipper in the Rhododendron Cove State Nature Preserve in Fairfield County, on the Tranquility State Wildlife Area in Adams County and on the Oldaker State Wildlife Area in Highland County.
Additional sightings of the clouded skipper were reported from Hocking, Vinton and Scioto counties during September.
“In general, the clouded skipper was observed in ones and twos and we feel it must have been present in all southern counties of Ohio this fall,” David K. Parshall and Jim Davidson wrote in the December The Ohio Lepidopterist newsletter.
The clouded skipper is now among a list of more than 150 butterfly species recorded by Ohio Lepidopterists as being seen in Ohio.
“It is a species that normally is found in Florida and certainly would not be present in Ohio this time of year. It’s unlikely that we would see clouded skippers in Ohio later this year, but the observations made last summer were exciting for the lepidopterist community,” said Parshall, president of the non-profit society known as the Ohio Lepidopterists.