Variegated Skipper (Gorgythion begga) life history
Variegated Skipper (Gorgythion begga) Life History

Egg, 1-1-22

Neonate, 1-3-22

First instar, 1-6-22; note leaf shelter to left (out of focus)

Second instar, 1-11-22

Third instar, 1-14-22

Fourth instar, 1-19-22

Fifth instar, 1-26-22

Pupa, 1-31-22

Pupa as time to eclose nears (2-18-22 )

Fresh adult Variegated Skipper, dorsal view, after release 2-20-22

Fresh adult Variegated Skipper, ventral view, after release 2-20-22

Seth and Candi Welliver gave me the female Variegated Skipper of this study. I offered Yellow Butterfly Vine (Mascagania macroptera), and also the plant that in south Texas is called Barbados Cherry (Malpighia glabra).  Mascagania is the reported genus of plants that the butterfly uses, and the Yellow Butterfly Vine is an ornamental commonly used in this area. Barbados Cherry is a close relative and a common native plant. The skipper deposited 7 eggs, all on the Butterfly Vine.

Four of the eggs hatched. The first is the caterpillar featured here. The second fed for a few days and died; the last 2 never even fed. All ignored the very tender shoots that were offered and stayed only on older, larger leaves. It is my guess that these were too tough, that the hatchlings needed leaves that were mature but fresher.


Face of Variegated Skipper

The caterpillars that fed formed typical skipper shelters, cutting out a portion of the leaf. Later instars rolled up a leaf or tied two leaves together.

White-Patched Skippers (Chiomara georgina) will also use the Yellow Butterfly Vine, and the Variegated Skipper caterpillar I raised was very similar to caterpillars of that species (in the early and final instars). For the individual reared, the face of the Variegated Skipper's final instar was smoother and lighter than that of a White-Patched Skipper, and the subdorsal line was much fainter. However, all of these can be variable features, so I would want to rear out a caterpillar to confirm its identity. The pupae are easier to distinguish, as those of White-Patched Skippers have a white "pupil" on the false eyespots, whereas those of Variegated Skippers are solid black.


Variegated Skipper Page