Up and over, down and up, now you see it an now you don’t, so flashes the Long-tailed Skipper, in an out of the bushes and flowers. But suddenly you see it lighting on a beautiful flower like a thirsty boy or girl lighting on an ice-cream soda. Its whole body quivers with ecstacy as the long tongue sips up the nectar. Now you can catch it while it is so forgetful, though that would be really not sporting!
The Long-tailed Skipper must have some reason for its long tails, but it is hard to figure one except maybe as something to attract the bites of birds away from the body of the butterfly. Another possible use is when the wings are folded and the skipper lights on a twig. Then the tails might give the impression of a leaf stem in a similar way to the tails of the Leaf Butterfly of India.
The Long-tailed Skipper is mainly a butterfly of the American tropics, but it has worked its way northward as far as California in the west and southern New York in the east. Its brown-headed, green bodied caterpillar feeds mainly on plants of the pea family, such as Wisteria and cultivated beans. It is called the Bean-leaf Roller because it often cuts a leaf and then rolls the cut part over its body and fastens it with a thread of silk for protection from enemies. When eating beans, it sometimes becomes quite a pest.