Jeffrey Glassberg, in Butterflies Through Binoculars; The East, has the best quotation for this family in the spread-wing skipper butterfly group. He references a mysterious, unpublished text, The Rites of an Ancient Aurelian, by an anonymous author:
…and rising up like a dark cloud—the duskywings spread across the land, sowing confusion and dissension about butterfliers, the instrument of Erinnyes revenge.
Duskywing butterflies are tough to tell apart, but my task was somewhat limited by date and range for the butterfly in the photo above. I ruled out Juvenal's Duskywing, since it is only seen in spring in Missouri, and this fellow arrived on July 25. There is no dark band in the middle of the hind wing, so that eliminates Mottled Duskywing. Markings aren't right for Wild Indigo Duskywing, and in our area, we're too far south for Columbine and Persius; too far north for Zarucco and Funeral—though all 4 of these duskywings have occured here.
That leaves us with Horace's Duskywing—in this case, a male. However, I won't be offended if you find fault with my identification. Please leave your criticism in the comments!
I wrote about in an earlier post.
What's up with the names of these butterflies? They must have been named by a classics scholar. Horace, Juvenal, and Persius were poets of ancient Rome.
Horace is most famous for the phrase, "Carpe diem!"—Seize the day! Juvenal's best known phrases include "A sound mind in a sound body," and—my favorite—"rare bird." Persius coined another great aphorism "Out of the frying pan, into the fire!" Though some sources suggest that all duskywings are named for Roman poets, I believe only these three are, though Columbine is a character in Medieval Commedia dell'Arte. The genus name, Erynnis, however is a reference to the three ancient Greek goddesses. The Erinyes, known to the Romans as "the Furies," punished criminals, especially murderers and those who were rude to his mother—Orestes, for example.
The Erinyes are often depicted in black robes with short skirts, wearing boots, and carrying a whip—a bit like Emma Peel in The Avengers. A pretty intense name for an innocent little butterfly, don't you think?
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