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longtailed skipper

Q: I have noticed a little hairy butterfly which is blue and green flitting around my wildflower patch. What can you tell me about it?

Q: I have noticed a little hairy butterfly which is blue and green flitting around my wildflower patch.  It seems to have a long tail compared to its wings. What can you tell me about it?

A:  I believe you have spotted a longtailed skipper, which is commonly found throughout Florida.  The caterpillar form is not our best friend as it is often the one we see hidden in a bean leaf rolled around its body.  Other plants from the bean family can be eaten by this caterpillar too – such as American wisteria and the native hairy indigo. Skipper caterpillars are easy to spot as their heads are brown and quite large compared to the rest of its body.  The body of the caterpillar is light green with yellow, parallel stripes down its back. This butterfly, which is about 1-1/2 inches wide, is equally distinctive because of the long, narrow tails which extend beyond its hindwings.  The upper portion of the skipper’s hindwings has a metallic, blue-green color, which catches the light as the butterfly flits from flower to flower.  Skippers, like other butterflies, are pollinators so they can and so serve a useful purpose and the adult causes no damage to our gardens.