Mangrove Skipper

Phocides pigmalion

Photographs by Susan Leach Snyder


All adult skippers have moth-like bodies that are thick and furry. Their wings are triangular and their antennae end in knobs with tiny hooks. Skippers get their name from their flight pattern of darting from one place to another.

Eggs of the Mangrove Skipper are laid singly on the leaves of red mangroves. When they hatch, like all skippers, their skins are smooth and they have large heads. Mangrove skipper caterpillars are red with yellow bands. Their heads have two yellow spots. As they age, they turn white, but the yellow spots on their red heads remain. Like the other skippers, the Mangrove Skipper caterpillar constructs a shelter around itself by folding over sections of a leaf and tying the ends together with silk.


On February 5, 2009, two Conservancy volunteer horticulturists (Roz Katz and Sheri Arnold) located an unknown caterpillar crawling on a very young red mangrove tree (a propagule with only two leaves). It was later identified as a mangrove skipper. The photographs below show the caterpillar's white coloration. Note that its head looks like it was attached as an afterthought. The jointed legs are pink and its 5 prolegs are white. The body is covered in soft, short, spines.














Adult Mangrove Skippers are brownish-black with iridescent blue scales. The hind wing has a stubby tail, bordered by a fringe of white scales. The female is a more dull color than its male counterpart. The female pictured at left was sipping nectar from porterweed.









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