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Mercurial Skipper (Proteides mercurius)

Family: Skippers (Hesperiidae)

Subfamily: Spread-wing Skippers (Pyrginae)

Identification: Head and thorax are bright orange above; forewings are elongate. Upperside of wings is brown with golden orange at the bases. Underside is chestnut brown with white frosting on outer edges; center of hindwing has an indistinct white mark.

Life history: Adults bask with their wings spread open. Males perch to find females. Caterpillars rest in leaf shelters and come out at night to eat leaves.

Flight: April-May in southern Florida, April-October in South Texas, all year in Mexico.

Wing span: 2 1/4 - 2 3/4 inches (5.8 - 7 cm).

Caterpillar hosts: Tree and vine legumes including senna (Cassia), cow pea (Vigna), and Muellera.

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Near streams in lowland tropical forests, particularly in edges and openings.

Range: Argentina north through Central America to Mexico and the West Indies. Strays to Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.

Conservation: Not usually required.

NatureServe Global Status: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

Management needs: None reported.