All photographs, artwork, text and website design are the property of The Butterflies
of the World Foundation (unless otherwise stated) and are protected under national
and international copyright laws. Photographs, artwork or text on this website may
not be reproduced in any way without prior written consent of The Butterflies of
the World Foundation.
The family Hesperiidae includes all butterflies that are collectively called skippers
because of their fast skipping flight. This family is the sole member of the Superfamily
Hesperioidea. Whereas, the other five families of butterflies belong to the Superfamily
Papilionoidea. So, skippers are considered butterflies, but they have a few traits
different than the species of “True” butterflies found in the Superfamily Papilionoidea.
Some of these traits include large eyes, short antennae (often with hooked clubs)
and stout bodies. Most also have a very rapid flight with a fast, almost blurred,
wing beat. There are about 3,500 species of skippers and they’re further divided
into seven subfamilies. They occur worldwide with more found in the tropics. Most
species are brown or tan, but some tropical members can be quite colorful.
Megathymus yuccae belongs to the subfamily Hesperiinae. This species is found throughout
much of the southern U.S. and northern Mexico. Its preferred habitat includes coastal
dunes, desert canyons, open woodland, grassland and old fields.
The larval food source includes various yuccas such as bear grass, Yucca filamentosa,
Smalls yucca, Y. smalliana, Spanish dagger, Y. gloriosa, Y. elata, and Y. arizonica
and Spanish bayonet, Y. aloifolia. Males perch near the host plants to await females.
Females deposit eggs singly to leaves of host plants. Young caterpillars feed near
the tips of leaves and may web together small leaves to make a nest. Older caterpillars
bore into the growing point of the plant and feed on the root. They make a silk chimney
which projects from the growing point. Fully-grown caterpillars overwinter in their
burrows and then pupate there in late winter or early spring. The chrysalids are
able to move up and down in their burrows.