J. H. Comstock and A. Comstock, 1895
The giant skippers are butterflies in the disputed subfamily Megathyminae, which is part of the skipper family. Some authorities treat this as a distinct and separate subfamily, but more modern classifications tend to place them within the subfamily Hesperiinae. However, some works, such as the Integrated Taxonomic Information System, still treat is as a valid subfamily. The giant skippers include two tribes, Aegialini and Megathymini. There are three genera and about eighteen species in this subfamily. These butterflies typically live in the southwest United States and Mexico in desert areas.
The giant skippers are larger than the other members of the family Hesperiidae, but are medium-sized butterflies with thick bodies. They tend to be brown with yellow markings. The antennae are unhooked and some species even possess a short apiculus. Long hairlike scales are present on the upperwings of males. Their flight is fast and rapid. Males are territorial and tend to perch on low vegetation. Adults do not derive sustenance from flowers and rarely feed. Males do visit wet sand in order to drink.
The eggs of members of the genera Megathymus and Stallingsia are glued to leaves, while the eggs of Agathymus are dumped into host plant clumps. The caterpillars of the giant skippers bury themselves into the leaf or stem of a plant and feed from within the silk-lined tunnels they create. Pupae are formed in these tunnels.
The subfamily includes the following genera:
- "ITIS Standard Report Page: Megathyminae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
- "Subfamily: Giant-Skippers". Butterflies and Moths of North America. Montana State University. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
- "ITIS Standard Report Page: Aegialini". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
- "ITIS Standard Report Page: Megathymini". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
- Daniels, Jaret C. (2003). Butterflies of the Carolinas. Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, Inc. p. 9. ISBN 1-59193-007-3.