Whirlabout (Polites vibex)
These aptly named small skippers of the Coastal Plain (rarely Piedmont) are often seen whirling about.
The two pairs of blotchy dark spots on the hindwing underside are distinctive, but it's still easy to confuse them with certain individuals of the similar but much more common Fiery Skipper. Note that some Fierys have the lower pair of blotchy spots on the hindwing, but the upper two spots are not paired in Fiery. Wing shape is also different - Whirlabout is compact, while Fiery has a more elongate shape.
Male, New Hanover Co., NC 8/26/06.
Male, Brunswick Co., NC 8/25/07.
Male Sachems also have smudgy spots on the hindwing, but they're much less distinct and the smudgy spots create a hint of a pale chevron pattern, which Whirlabout lacks. The spots on Whirlabout are generally larger than those of Fiery or Sachem.
The fresh and unusually richly-colored male Whirlabout at left was in Paul Hart's yard near Raven Rock State Park, Harnett Co., NC 7/30/02.
Female, New Hanover Co., NC, 5/15/04.
Female, New Hanover Co., NC, 5/15/04 (same individual).
Male, Sandhills Game Lands, Scotland Co., NC, 9/24/03.
Male, Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park, Hidalgo Co., TX, 6/6/04.