Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Befuddling cloudywings

Ahhh... the delicate art of correctly identifying cloudywing skippers!  I finished mounting the specimens I collected in Oklahoma and now I'm trying to identify the four cloudywings (last four pairs in the photo below, one I accidentally broke trying to open the wings, not realizing it had already dried out).  The first specimen in these photos is an old one from part of a collection that was given to me, and the second specimen I collected in southern Arizona in 2005.  Based on the information I've read, I believe that...
1. was correctly identified as Thorybes bathyllus (southern cloudywing)
2. T. pylades - (northern cloudywing), but that's tentative and it looks like a possible T. bathyllus
3. female T. pylades (originally mistook this for T. bathyllus)
4. female T. bathyllus (southern)
5-6. I think are both T. bathyllus (southern cloudywing)
click on photo to view full size
The best way to accurately determine cloudywing species is to dissect or view the genitalia under a magnifying  glass, which I have no experience in, so for now I'm trying to learn the wing markings.  Apparently, the best way to determine the difference is that T. pylades males have a costal fold, which appears as a slight bulge along the leading edge of the front wing. The four white spots nearest the front wing tip are in a straight line in T. bathyllus, and is slightly skewed in T. confusis. I'm sure there's more, but that is what I've picked up on for now. Next we'll see if I got any of these right, after I talk to someone who knows these critters better than I do!

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