Mangrove Skipper (Phocides pigmalion)
Mangrove Skipper is a large skipper of shady coastal hammocks in the southern 2/3 of Florida, where its host plant, the Red Mangrove (Rhizophora mangle), grows. They usually perch flat on the undersides of leaves (these photos were taken looking up from below the leaf).
Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, Key Largo, Monroe Co., FL 6/24/2010.
Hard to see on the underside of a leaf in a dim hammock, the camera's flash reveals the butterfly's striking colors: purplish on the forewings, deep royal blue on the hindwings, with pale blue banding. The black body also has touches of pale blue. Stunning!
Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, Key Largo, Monroe Co., FL 6/25/2010.
Mangrove Skipper caterpillars are also stunning: ruby-red with yellow-orange stripes. They weave together mangrove leaves with silk to form a shelter (here opened in order to take the photo).
Rutherford Park, Boca Raton, FL 6/28/2010.