Butterflies of New Mexico: The Skippers V: Folded-Wing Skippers (Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae)

by Steven J. Cary

Skippers (Hesperiidae). About a third of our butterfly fauna, more than 100 species, belongs to this family, which is subdivided into six subfamilies: Eudaminae, Pyrrhopyginae, Pyrginae, Heteropterinae, Hesperiinae and Megathyminae. Skippers earned their name because of their rapid, skipping flight, which is powered by a heavily-muscled thorax. All skippers have antennal clubs that are distinctively bent, curved or hooked. Larvae silk leaves together for nests; larvae hibernate. Most subfamilies have distinct larval food preferences.

Folded-Wing Skippers (Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae). This present chapter describes each of our 52 known Hesperiine species. The vast majority are small, with wingspans of 1.5 inches or less, and with subtle marks. Some genera contain many similar species that pose challenges for identification. Adults rest with wings held together over the back. When active, they perch with hindwings spread horizontally and forewings cocked half open, which is a challenge for photographers. All Hesperiine larvae eat grasses and therefore are most prevalent in prairies, savannas and mountain meadows. The number and diversity of Hesperiines in any particular location generally speaks to the health of grassland ecosystems.


Top↑

Euphyes vestris (Boisduval)                                 Dun Skipper (updated February 3, 2021)

Description. Dun Skipper is dark brown (dun) on all wing surfaces. Males have a black stigma. Females have a row of vague postmedian white spots on the forewing above and below. Gold scales cover the palps and heads of fresh individuals. Range and Habitat. Euphyes vestris is widespread across much of temperate North America. It occupies Upper Sonoran and Transition Zone habitats in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico (counties: Be,Ca,Co,Ed,Gr,Ha,Li,LA,Mo,Ot,RA,Sv,SJ,SM,SF,So,Ta,To,Un). Its altitudinal range here is broad, 4600 to 9200′, and includes mountains, foothills, prairies and canyon-mesa country. Life History. Larvae are partial to sedges (Cyperaceae). Scott (1992) documented larval use of Carex pennsylvanica heliophila, Carex geophila and Carex rossii in Colorado. Half-grown larvae hibernate over winter. Flight. Our records indicate one extended generation per year. Extreme dates are May 15 and August 28 with peak adult numbers in July. The best place to find adults is at flowers near watercourses. Comments. Our populations are assigned to subspecies Euphyes vextris kiowah (Reakirt). Form immaculatus (Williams), now synonymized, was described in 1914 from specimens collected by John Woodgate in the Jemez Mountains.

Dun Skipper male (Euphyes vestris) Pacheco Canyon, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe National Forest, Santa Fe Co., NM; June 29, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Dun Skipper male (Euphyes vestris) Canon Venado east of Clines Corners, Torrance Co., NM; June 22, 2007 (photo by Steve Cary).
Dun Skipper female (Euphyes vestris) Pacheco Canyon, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe National Forest, Santa Fe Co., NM; June 29, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris) Pacheco Canyon, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe National Forest, Santa Fe Co., NM; July 27, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Notamblyscirtes simius (W. H. Edwards)   Simius Roadside-Skipper (updated February 3, 2021)

Description. Simius Roadside-Skipper has spot patterns typical of the genus Amblyscirtes, with an added pale spot in the dorsal forewing cell. Beneath, it has a pale gray hindwing and pale tawny forewing. The dorsal ground color can be rusty orange (form rufa) or black (form nigra). Hindwing fringes are unchecked white. Range and Habitat. This unique species lives in shortgrass prairies and savannas from Canada south to Arizona, Texas and Mexico. Never common, it is widespread across New Mexico (counties: Be,Ca,Ch,Ci?,Co,Cu,DA,Ed,Gr,Gu,Ha,Hi,Li,LA,Mo,Ot,RA,Sv,SM,SF,So,Un,Va?), usually 4500 to 7500′ elevation, but straying up to 9000′. Life History. A female oviposited on Bouteloua gracilis (Poaceae) near the Canadian River (Mo) on 3 July 1987 (S. Cary). This plant is used elsewhere and may be the sole larval host plant. First stage larvae hibernate. Flight. Notamblyscirtes simius is univoltine, but flight time varies to coincide with and capitalize on the local rainy season. Peak flight is in June on our northeast plains, June – July in north-central New Mexico, and July – August in southern New Mexico. Extreme dates are April 20 and August 29. Males hilltop; both sexes come to nectar. Comments. Due to superficial similarities of size, wing shape and basic markings, Simius was long treated as a member of the genus Amblyscirtes.

Simius Roadside-Skipper form rufa (Notamblyscirtes simius) Galisteo Basin Preserve, Santa Fe Co., NM; August 8, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Simius Roadside-Skipper (Notamblyscirtes simius) One-Tree Peak, Chaves Co., NM; May 15, 2004 (photo by Steve Cary).
Simius Roadside-Skipper form niga (Notamblyscirtes simius) Galisteo Basin Preserve, Santa Fe Co., NM; August 8, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Anatrytone logan (W. H. Edwards)         Delaware Skipper (updated December 14, 2020)

Description. Delaware Skipper is easy to identify because of its medium size (for a skipper) and its immaculate, soft gold underside. Also note the distinctive black edging and black veins near the margin of the forewing upperside. Range and Habitat. An eastern US species, Anatrytone logan is distributed west to the Rocky Mountain Front Range and from Canada south to west Texas. It occupies Upper Sonoran Zone prairies and stream corridors. In New Mexico it makes its home in our Eastern Plains (counties: Ch,Co,Cu,DB,Ed,Gu,Li,Mo,Qu,Ro,SM,Un). Life History. Larvae eat tall broadleaf grasses like Bromus inermis. Flight. Anatrytone logan has one flight per year peaking in June and July, with extreme dates of May 16 to August 9. Records from August 26 to October 2 suggest a partial second brood in southeastern New Mexico. Adults come to nectar, especially thistles, and water. Comments. Our populations belong to western subspecies Anatrytone logan lagus (W. H. Edwards). Our oldest report of Delaware Skipper is from 27 June 1969 near Conchas Dam (SM) by Richard Holland. Until about 1985 this species was thought to be merely a stray in New Mexico, which shows how little-studied our Eastern Plains butterflies were until recently.

Delaware Skipper (Anatrytone logan lagus) Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge, Mora Co., NM; July 24, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Delaware Skipper male (Anatrytone logan lagus) Lexington Wildlife Management Area, Cleveland Co., OK; May 26, 2006 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).
Delaware Skipper female (Anatrytone logan lagus) Lexington Wildlife Management Area, Cleveland Co., OK; May 28, 2017 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).

Quasimellana eulogius (Plötz) Common Mellana (updated April 1, 2021)

On August 8, 2005, Paul Opler collected this small, orange, folded-wing skipper as it visited Wright’s Buckwheat (Eriogonum wrightii) on San Augustin Pass northeast of Las Cruces, in Dona Ana County. This butterfly is seen in south Texas, though not commonly, and it is rarely reported from elsewhere. Dr. Opler’s opportune capture is our sole report of Common Mellana from New Mexico. Considering the array of small, orange, folded-wing skippers, this species might be more frequent, and simply overlooked. Nevertheless, until we have more sightings, it is best considered a very rare stray associated with late summer rains. Opler’s specimen is now at the C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Please share any photos you may have this insect in nature.

Common Mellana male (Quasimellana eulogius) McAllen Nature Center, McAllen, TX; November 7, 2018 (photo by Ralph Moore).
Common Mellana male (Quasimellana eulogius) Lower Rio Grande Valley, TX; (photo by Bryan Reynolds).
Common Mellana male (Quasimellana eulogius) San Augustin Pass, Dona Ana Co., NM; August 5, 2005 (photo courtesy of Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Colorado State University).
Common Mellana female (Quasimellana eulogius) American Butterfly Center, Mission, TX; November 14, 2013 (photo by Rebecca Gracey).
Common Mellana female (Quasimellana eulogius) Lower Rio Grande Valley, TX; (photo by Bryan Reynolds).

Top↑

Hylephila phyleus (Drury)                                  Fiery Skipper (updated March 23, 2021)

Description. Fiery Skippers resemble Sachem and some Polites species. Males are gold above with a bold, black stigma and jagged black borders. Below, males are two-toned gold with black dots. Females have a ventral hindwing pale post-median band that is bordered outwardly with black dots. Range and Habitat. Hylephila phyleus is a subtropical insect that ranges from South America north to the southern US. In New Mexico it occurs below 5500’ elevation in cities and other disturbed areas (counties: Be,Ca,Cu,DB,DA,Ed,Gr,Hi,Le,Lu?,Ot,Ro,Sv,Si,So,Va). Life History. Larval hosts are a variety of grasses (Poaceae), including popular lawn and athletic field species such as Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon). Flight. Our records start May 2 and go to November 26. Hylephila phyleus seems continuously brooded and becomes increasingly common as the warm season progresses, peaking in September. It probably can be found year-round in southern cities like Las Cruces or Hobbs. Adults avidly seek nectar. Comments. Fiery Skipper was discovered in New Mexico in 1956, when it was collected by the young Mike Toliver in Albuquerque. It was first noted in Las Cruces in 1961. It probably came in with introduced lawn grasses.

Fiery Skipper male (Hylephila phyleus) Broad Canyon Ranch, Dona Ana Co., NM; August 19, 2011 (photo by Steve Cary).
Fiery Skipper male (Hylephila phyleus) Estero Llano Grande State Park, Hidalgo Co., TX; October 30, 2017 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).
Fiery Skipper male (Hylephila phyleus) near Mesilla, Dona Ana Co., NM; September 2, 2020 (photo by Jim VonLoh).
Fiery Skipper female (Hylephila phyleus) Broad Canyon Ranch, Dona Ana Co., NM; August 19, 2011 (photo by Steve Cary).
Fiery Skipper female (Hylephila phyleus) Frontera Audubon, Hidalgo Co., TX; November 4, 2013 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).

Top↑

Limochores origenes (Fabricius)              Crossline Skipper

Description. Crossline Skipper is decidedly less widespread, larger and more brightly marked than its close sister species, Tawny-Edged Skipper. Postmedian white spots decorate all wing surfaces, but hindwing spots may be faint. Females have little orange above. Range and Habitat. This eastern US butterfly bridges the Great Plains with colonies sprinkled from North Dakota south to northeastern New Mexico (counties: Co,SM,Un). Low Transition Zone grasslands from 5500 to 8000’ support this scarce skipper. Life History. Grasses (Poaceae) are larval hosts throughout its range. Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) is the chief host in the Front Range, with occasional use of sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) and Panicum oligosanthe. Larvae make above-ground grass nests and overwinter. Flight. Limochores origenes has one annual generation that flies from June 21 to July 21. Adults fly in grassy swales. Males perch on prominent vegetation. Comments. Kansas Professor F. H. Snow collected our oldest specimens of this species near Las Vegas (SM) in 1882. Our populations belong to western Limochores origenes rhena (W. H. Edwards). Their above-ground larval nests, potentially vulnerable to both grazing and fire, may contribute to the relative scarcity of this species in New Mexico today. Some published guide books show this species in the genus Polites, next to its look-alike, Tawny-Edged Skipper.

Crossline Skipper male (Limochores origenes rhena) Jefferson Co., CO; June 20, 2018 (photo by Christian Nunes).
Crossline Skipper male (Limochores origenes rhena) Jefferson Co., CO; June 20, 2018 (photo by Christian Nunes).

Top↑

Polites themistocles (Latreille)         Tawny-Edged Skipper (updated February 3, 2021)

Description. Tawny-Edged Skipper is uniform green-gold below, at times with a ghost of a pale hindwing postmedian band. Above, it is brown with an orange tawny patch behind the forewing costa; males have a black stigma. There are 1 (in males) to 3 (in females) pale postmedian spots on the forewing above. Range and Habitat. Polites themistocles occurs across much of eastern North America from Florida to southeast Canada, then west to British Columbia and south to Arizona and New Mexico (counties: Ca,Ci,Co,Li,LA,MK,Mo,Ot,RA,Sv,SJ,SM,SF,Ta,Un). In our area it lives in Transition and Canadian Zone meadows, usually 6700 to 10,000′ elevation. Life History. Larvae eat various grasses, including some species found in urban lawns. Koeleria macrantha probably is our primary host. Flight. Our adult observations span May 12 to September 9, peaking in June and July. This may represent one generation at high elevation and two at lower sites. Look for adults at nectar and wet sand. Comments. The population in the Sacramento Mountains needs closer examination due to the occasional appearance of completely dark females, like those of Limochores origenes.

Tawny-Edged Skipper male (Polites themistocles) east of Black Lake, Colfax Co., NM; July 9, 2019 (photo by Steve Cary).
Tawny-Edged Skipper female (Polites themistocles) Elliot Barker trailhead, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Colfax Co., NM; June 25, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Tawny-Edged Skipper (Polites themistocles) near Cloudcroft, Sacramento Mountains, Otero Co., NM; July 1, 2010 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Polites sabuleti (Boisduval)                         Sandhill Skipper (updated February 3, 2021)

Description. Sandhill Skipper and the next species have black dots near ventral vein-ends. Polites sabuleti has a lighter, less grizzled, color below and veins are white. Males are yellower above than Draco, especially on the veins. Range and Habitat. This Great Basin insect ranges north to British Columbia, south to Baja California, west to coastal California and east to the central Rockies. It inhabits Upper Sonoran to Transition Zone grasslands. In New Mexico it finds livable conditions in our northwest quadrant (counties: Co,RA,Sv,SJ,SF,Ta), 5000 to 8000′ elevation. Life History. Larvae eat various grasses (Poaceae) as hosts. Distichlis spicata var. stricta, Hordeum jubatum, Puccinellia distans, Poa arida and Sporobolus airoides are documented in the literature. The latter species is the principal host along the Rio Grande near Pilar (RA,Ta). Sandhill Skippers also colonize introduced grasses such as Poa pratensis (SJ,SF). Flight. Records for New Mexico indicate two brief generations per year: May 26 to June 26 and again August 18 to September 11. There are no July reports. Adults perch in gullies, swales and along river floodplains. Comments. Our populations are assigned to the nominate subspecies.

Sandhill Skipper (Polites sabuleti) Animas River at Boyd Park, Farmington, NM; September 6, 2016 (photo by Steve Cary).
Sandhill Skipper male (Polites sabuleti) Animas River at Boyd Park, Farmington, NM; September 6, 2016 (photo by Steve Cary).
Sandhill Skipper female (Polites sabuleti) Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve, Santa Fe Co., NM; June 2, 2000 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Polites draco (W. H. Edwards)                         Draco Skipper

Description. Compared to Polites sabuleti, Polites draco has similar markings but with greater contrast between cream-colored light spots and the dark, green-brown background on the hindwing below. Range and Habitat. This montane species occurs throughout the Rocky Mountains. In New Mexico it is widespread in Canadian Zone and higher grasslands and savannas, 8000 – 12,000′ (counties: Ci,Co,LA,MK,Mo,RA,Sv,SM,SF,So,Ta). The southernmost known colony of Draco Skipper was found on South Baldy, Magdalena Mountains (So) by D. Cowper. Life History. Females oviposit on various grasses or nearby plants, apparently seeking out Festuca idahoensis, Festuca arizonica, Poa pratensis and Koeleria macrantha, among others. Winter is passed in the larval stage. Flight. Draco Skippers are on the wing in one generation each year, generally from May 19 to August 27, with peak numbers in late June and July. Adults are seen at mud, at nectar or perching on rocks and fallen trees in grassy alpine meadows. Comments. Some authorities point to intermediate forms and suggest that Draco Skipper and Sandhill Skipper may be altitudinal variants of one species, rather than two distinct species.

Draco Skipper (Polites draco) east of Black Lake, Colfax Co., NM; June 18, 2018 (photo by Steve Cary).
Draco Skipper (Polites draco) east of Black Lake, Colfax Co., NM; July 5, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Draco Skipper female (Polites draco) near Silver Jack Reservoir, Gunnison Co., CO; June 30, 2018 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Yvretta rhesus (W. H. Edwards)                    Rhesus Skipper (updated February 5, 2021)

Description. Distinguish diminutive Rhesus Skipper by its white-scaled veins overlying a chocolate brown, gold-margined, hindwing below. Carus Skipper lacks the brown median patch. Rhesus is dark grey-brown above with postmedian white spots on forewing and hindwing, plus a white fringe. Uncas has longer wings and is orange brown above, though females tend toward gray. Range and Habitat. This High Plains skipper lives from Saskatchewan to the Mexican Sierra Madre in Upper Sonoran Zone grasslands. In our state it occupies foothills and mesa habitats (counties: Ca,Ch,Ci,Co,Ed?,Gr,Gu,Ha,Li,MK,Mo,Ot,Qu,RA,Sv,SM,SF,Si,So,Ta,To,Un), usually 5800 to 8200′ elevation. Life History. The principal host for Yvretta rhesus seems to be blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis; Poaceae), but other prairie grasses are plausible. Flight. Rhesus Skipper has one generation each year with adults out and about in May. Extreme flight dates are April 9 and July 5. Males will occupy hilltop perches, if they can find one. Both sexes come to water and nectar, sometimes late in the day. Along a highway shoulder north of Quemado in late May 2020, a male pursued a female on foot through dense, three-inch tall blue grama grass, she was hoping to place eggs and he was oping she might want more male DNA. Comments. Colonies of this enigmatic butterfly can be local and ephemeral. A colony may fly for only two weeks. Searching for Rhesus may be discouraging, but adults may be numerous when a colony is located. Taxonomists periodically move Rhesus and Carus to the genus Yvretta, but the next crew bumps them back again to Polites. So goes the taxonomic tug of war between lumpers and splitters.

Rhesus Skipper female (Yvretta rhesus) MP 30 on SR 117 south of Grants, Cibola Co., NM; May 29, 2020 (photo by Steve Cary).
Rhesus Skipper (Yvretta rhesus) near junction of NM52 and NM 59, Black Range, Socorro Co., NM; May 27, 1996 (photo by Steve Cary).
Rhesus Skipper (Yvretta rhesus) Venado Canyon, east of Clines Corners, Torrance Co., NM; May 1, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Yvretta carus (W. H. Edwards)                        Carus Skipper (updated March 22, 2021)

Description. Carus Skipper can be confused with Rhesus, but it is somewhat smaller, wing fringes are gray, and the ventral hindwing network of white-scaled veins is denser on a predominantly gold/tan ground with fewer dark patches. Like Rhesus, it is gray-black above with white spots, while the similar Uncas Skipper has orange highlights above. Range and Habitat. The range of tis Central American and Mexican species extends north into southern California, southern Arizona, west Texas and southern New Mexico (counties: Be,DA,Co,Ed,Gr,Ha,Hi,Qu,Si). Look for it in grasslands, 4600 to 7500′ elevation. Life History. Brock (1993) reported multiple ovipositions on Muhlenbergia rigens (Poaceae) in southeast Arizona, but nothing is known about larval hosts in New Mexico. Flight. Yvretta carus is double brooded in southern New Mexico, flying from April 11 to June 27 and again from July 19 to August 20. Records from farther north fall within the span of April 30 to July 27, suggesting one extended generation. Some male hilltopping has been noted. Adults come to mud and nectar (e.g., Asclepias, Glandularia). Comments. This skipper is not frequently encountered in mst of New Mexico and as a result its life cycle and ecology here remain poorly understood. A seasonal form has ventral colors of gold tending to orange, and the forewing is more pointed. Like Rhesus, this species is sometimes lumped within the genus Polites.

Carus Skipper (Yvretta carus) west side of Mesilla, Dona Ana Co., NM; September 15, 2020 (photo by Jim VonLoh).
Carus Skipper (Yvretta carus) westside of Mesilla, Dona Ana Co., NM; September 15, 2020 (photo by Jim VonLoh).
Carus Skipper (Yvretta carus) west side of Mesilla, Dona Ana Co., NM; September 15, 2020 (photo by Jim VonLoh).
Carus Skipper (Yvretta carus) Clanton Draw Peloncillo Mountains, Hidalgo Co., NM; August 18, 1994 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Atalopedes campestris (Boisduval)                            Sachem (updated December 14, 2020)

Description. Misidentifications are common for this sexually dimorphic species. Sachem males have a huge black stigma. The ventral hindwing is tan to brown with pale bands paralleling the veins. Females resemble the various Hesperia species, but with a black patch beneath the dorsal forewing cell. Range and Habitat. Atalopedes campestris breeds from South America northward into the US, straying as far as southern Canada. In New Mexico it is widespread at low or moderate altitudes (all counties except Ci,LA,MK,RA,Ta,To,Va). Life History. Larvae eat grasses (Poaceae) such as Distichlis species, Cynodon dactylon, Festuca rubra, Stenotaphrum secundatum, Digitaria sanguinalis, Eleusine indica and Poa pratensis. Sachem breeds at least seasonally in our southern and eastern counties, occurring farther north only as a stray. Flight. Sachem is bivoltine in New Mexico. Extreme dates are April 22 and November 9, peaking in June to July and again in September. It is most common in late summer, though rarely seen in large numbers. Adults are found at nectar. Comments. Our oldest record is a specimen in the New Mexico Highlands University collection taken 17 miles southeast of Las Vegas (SM) on 8 June 1946.

Sachem female (Atalopedes campestris) Holy Ghost Canyon, Santa Fe National Forest, San Miguel Co., NM; July 19, 2007 (photo by Steve Cary).
Sachem female (Atalopes campestris) Lexington Wildlife Management Area, Cleveland Co., OK: May 5, 2017 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).
Sachem male (Atalopedes campestris) Lexington Wildlife Management Area, Cleveland Co., OK; September 22, 2005 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).
Sachem male (Atalopedes campestris) Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro Co., NM; September 16, 2010 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Hesperia colorado (Scudder)    Western Branded-Skipper

Description. The genus Hesperia has many representatives in North America. All are small with orange and brown marks above and with white spots on a green-gold underside. Western Branded-Skipper can be reliably distinguished from other New Mexico Hesperia species using a combination of its late flight period, its preference for high altitude, and the elongated white “C” spot in the cell of the hindwing below. Range and Habitat. Hesperia colorado lives in most western North American cordillera. It is a montane species in New Mexico, preferring Transition and Canadian Zone meadows and savannas between 7500 and 10,000′ elevation. Life History. Scott (1992) gave important Colorado larval hosts as Carex foenea and Carex pennsylvanica (both Cyperaceae), as well as Bouteloua gracilis, Bouteloua curtipendula, Bromus tectorum and Andropogon scoparius (all Poaceae). A female oviposited on Poa interior on 23 Aug 2003 (RA). Eggs hibernate over winter. Flight. Western Branded-Skipper is a late summer flyer with greatest numbers in August. Extreme dates are June 14 and September 22, but reports before late July are suspect. Adults come eagerly to nectar. Males patrol topographic high spots. Comments. This butterfly is part of a complex once grouped under Old World Hesperia comma Linnaeus, in which much research is still needed. North-central New Mexico (counties: Co,LA,Mo,RA,Sv,SM,Ta,Un) harbors the nominate race with a yellowish ventral hindwing. Western New Mexico (counties: Ca,Ci,Gr,MK,SJ) adults have an ochre hindwing below and are subspecies Hesperia colorado susanae L. Miller. Northeast New Mexico (counties: Co,Un) may have Hesperia colorado oroplata Scott.

Western Branded-Skipper (Hesperia colorado) Burnt Mesa, Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos Co., NM; August 23, 1996 (photo by Steve Cary).
Western Branded-Skipper male (Hesperia colorado) Humphreys Wildlife Management Area, Rio Arriba Co., NM; August 23, 2003 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Hesperia juba (Scudder)                                      Juba Skipper (updated March 23, 2021)

Description. Juba Skipper is our largest Hesperia species, rivaled only by autumn-flying Hesperia woodgatei. Juba has shorter antennae, larger apiculus(es), and larger ventral hindwing white spots. A jagged dark border on the forewing upperside contrasts with the orange median area, unlike Hesperia nevada. The underside ground color is bright green; the last spot on the ventral postmedian band is offset inward. Range and Habitat. This is a Great Basin bug whose larger distribution extends to California and to British Columbia. It lives in Upper Sonoran to Transition Zone savannas and sage flats, 5000 to 9000′ elevation. Hesperia juba enters northwest New Mexico in the foothills of the Chuska and Jemez Mountains and near Chama (counties: RA,Sv,SJ). Life History. According to Scott (1992), spring females oviposit on Poa species, Agropyron species, Stipa comata and Bouteloua gracilis (all Poaceae), while autumn-flying females choose different grasses: Poa secunda var. sandbergii, Bromus tectorum and Bouteloua gracilis. Young larvae overwinter. Flight. Juba is bivoltine. The spring brood flies May 12 to June 19, while our few second-brood records span August 28 to September 9. Males perch and patrol in gully bottoms. Comments. An 1882 report of Hesperia juba by F. H. Snow from Las Vegas (SM) was examined by W. H. Edwards and found to be a new species: Hesperia viridis. Snow’s specimen is the type.

Juba Skipper (Hesperia juba) Jackson Lake off NM170, San Juan Co., NM; May 12, 2007 (photo by Steve Cary).
Juba Skipper female (Hesperia juba) Roxborough State Park, Douglas Co., CO; September 30, 2018 (photo by Ralph Moore).
Juba Skipper male (Hesperia juba) Roxborough State Park, Douglas Co., CO; September 30, 2018 (photo by Ralph Moore).
Juba Skipper male (Hesperia juba) Pinon Mesa, Grand Mesa National Forest, Mesa Co., CO; June 8, 2020 (photo by Ralph Moore).

Top↑

Hesperia nevada (Scudder)                           Nevada Skipper

Description. Nevada Skipper has a gray-green underside, wearing to olive-brown. On the arc of white spots on the ventral hindwing, the bottom white spot is shifted markedly inward. Brown margins on the forewing above blend smoothly into the fulvous postmedian area. Range and Habitat. No congener flies at higher elevations. Hesperia colorado comes close, but Nevada Skipper adults usually are finished before Western Branded-Skipper flies. Hesperia nevada occupies grasslands dry meadows in Canadian Zone areas and higher (8000 to 11,500′) in northern New Mexico (counties: Co,Mo,LA,RA,Sv,SM,SF,Ta). Colonies are scattered throughout montane western US and southwest Canada. Life History. Larval host grasses (Poaceae) in New Mexico include Koeleria macrantha, Festuca idahoensis, Festuca ovinia, Stipa comata, Bouteloua gracilis, Poa pratensis and Danthonia parryi (Ferris and Brown 1980, Scott 1992). Larvae overwinter. Flight. Nevada Skipper is univoltine throughout its range. New Mexico adults are observed between May 24 and August 12, usually June – July. Look for them at nectar and moist earth in mountain meadows. Comments. This insect was first reported in New Mexico by T. D. A. Cockerell, who found it near Spring Mountain west of Las Vegas (SM), during 1-4 August 1900.

Nevada Skipper (Hesperia nevada) Jawbone Mountain, Tusas Mountains, Rio Arriba Co., NM; June 23, 2007 (photo by Steve Cary).
Nevada Skipper female (Hesperia nevada) Lagunitas, Carson National Forest, Rio Arriba CO., NM; June 24, 2007 (photo by Steve Cary).
Nevada Skipper male (Hesperia nevada) east of Black Lake, Colfax Co., NM; June 14, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Hesperia woodgatei (R. Williams)               Apache Skipper

Description. Distinctively, Apache Skipper has a ventral hindwing that is dark green-brown with widely-spaced small white spots. It is larger than most congeners; antennae are very long with a small apiculus. These features separate it from late-flying Pahaska, Juba and Western Branded skippers. Range and Habitat. Hesperia woodgatei occurs discontinuously in uplands from central Mexico north along the Sierra Madre to central Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas and up into extreme southern Colorado. In New Mexico it inhabits Transition Zone savannas, 6500 to 8400′ elevation (counties: Ca,Ci,Ed,Gr,LA,MK,Mo,RA,Sv,SM,SF,Si,So,Ta). Life History. Larval hosts are unknown grasses (Poaceae). Flight. Adults emerge later in the season than most univoltine species, flying from August 30 to October 16. Flight begins earliest in north-central New Mexico and later to the south, perhaps triggered by autumn cold. Males hilltop, occasionally quarreling with final-brood Hesperia pahaska males. Adults nectar and come to water. Comments. The name honors John Woodgate, who collected the types in the Jemez Mountains, 10-21 September 1913.

Apache Skipper (Hesperia woodgatei) El Dorado Wilderness south of Santa Fe, Santa Fe Co., NM; September 11, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Apache Skipper male (Hesperia woodgatei) El Dorado Wilderness south of Santa Fe, Santa Fe Co., NM; September 11, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Apache Skipper female (Hesperia woodgatei) Torriette Lakes, Gila National Forest, Catron Co., NM; September 17, 2010 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Hesperia uncas W. H. Edwards                        Uncas Skipper (updated February 7, 2021)

Description. Within the genus Hesperia, distinguish Uncas Skipper by the white scales coating the hindwing veins below. It is easily confused with Rhesus Skipper, with which it flies in May, but wings of Uncas are longer and its underside markings, though similar, can be differentiated with practice. Range and Habitat. Uncas inhabits the Great Basin, Rocky Mountains and High Plains where it likes Upper Sonoran and Transition Zone grasslands or savannas. In New Mexico it occurs statewide except not in our southwest corner (all counties except DA,Hi,Lu,Si), usually between 5200 and 9000′ elevation. Life History. Scott (1992) reported oviposition on blue grama grass, Bouteloua gracilis (Poaceae), the preferred larval host throughout its range. Flight. Hesperia uncas is univoltine to trivoltine in New Mexico. Adult flight is at its maximum in July in northern New Mexico, but in May and again July to September in southern New Mexico. Statewide, extreme dates are April 21 and September 23. Avid nectar feeders, adults are particularly fond of thistles. Comments. Specimens from southwest New Mexico (Gr) may be subspecies Hesperia uncas lasus (W. H. Edwards), which is lighter below than Hesperia uncas uncas, which occurs elsewhere in our state.

Uncas Skipper male (Hesperia uncas uncas) Rio Grande Gorge, Taos Co., NM; August 14, 2009 (photo by Steve Cary).
Uncas Skipper female (Hesperia uncas uncas) Cottonwood Trailhead, Galisteo Basin Preserve, Santa Fe Co., NM; May 24, 2019 (photo by Steve Cary).
Uncas Skipper female (Hesperia uncas uncas) Rio Grande Gorge, Taos Co., NM; August 9, 2016 (photo by Steve Cary).
Uncas Skipper male (Hesperia uncas uncas) Venado Canyon, east of Clines Corners, Torrance Co., NM; May 30, 2019 (photo by Steve Cary).
Uncas Skipper male (Hesperia uncas uncas) Los Alamos, Los Alamos Co., NM; September 5, 2020 (photo by Selvi Viswanathan).

Top↑

Hesperia pahaska (Leussler)                      Pahaska Skipper

Description. Pahaska Skipper is very similar to the Green Skipper, and they often fly together. Distinguishing them from each other is a challenge that cannot always be overcome without specimens to dissect. Your best clues are qualitative and not reliable in all cases. Pahaska’s band of ventral hindwing white spots is either straight at the posterior wing edge or the last spot is shifted inward. Glassberg (2017, pp. 346-347) also points to the two white spots nearest the ventral hindwing apex, which overlap little if at all in Pahaska. If you can net a male, probe the stigma to reveal the androconia, which are yellow for Pahaska. Females may not be visually separable from Hesperia viridis. Range and Habitat. This western species lives from Mexico north to Saskatchewan and Alberta. It occupies Upper Sonoran and Transition Zone grasslands in most of New Mexico (all counties except DB,Le), 5000 to 9200′ elevation. Life History. The preferred larval host is blue grama, Bouteloua gracilis (Poaceae)  Half-grown larvae overwinter. Flight. In northern New Mexico, Pahaska has two annual broods peaking in June and September. In southern New Mexico, Pahaska flies March 28 to October 14, with peak numbers in April, August and October. Males hilltop by perching on the ground and chasing all comers. In the absence of Green Skippers, male Pahaska will patrol gully bottoms. Adults feed at flower nectar. Comments. Our populations belong to the nominate subspecies. Intergrades with subspecies Hesperia pahaska williamsi Lindsey (smaller ventral hindwing white spots separated by dark scales) are reported infrequently from southwest New Mexico (DA,Gr,Hi). The Capitan Mountains (Li) occasionally produce individuals with an immaculate hindwing below.

Pahaska Skipper male (Hesperia pahaska pahaska) Galisteo Basin Preserve, Santa Fe Co., NM; May 6, 2019 (photo by Steve Cary).
Pahaska Skipper male (Hesperia pahaska pahaska) Galisteo Basin Preserve, Santa Fe Co., NM; August 8, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
possible Pahaska Skipper female (Hesperia pahaska pahaska) Wild Rivers Recreation Area, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, Taos Co., NM; August 12, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Hesperia viridis (W. H. Edwards)                   Green Skipper

Description. Green Skipper is a look-alike of Pahaska Skipper. The best visual diagnostic character for Green Skipper is the ventral hindwing postmedian band of white spots, where the bottom three spots usually exhibit concavity toward the wing margin. The two white spots nearest the ventral hindwing apex usually show significant overlap. Male androconia are black. Range and Habitat. Hesperia viridis lives on the High Plains from Wyoming and Nebraska south to Texas, Arizona and Mexico. In New Mexico it occupies prairies and savannas from 4500 to 8000′ elevation (all counties except DA,Le,Lu). Life History. Scott (1992) listed Bouteloua gracilis, Bouteloua curtipendula, and Andropogon gerardii as preferred larval hosts in Colorado. Flight. Hesperia viridis has one full and one partial brood in northern New Mexico, flying May 17 to September 9, peaking in June and July. It is bivoltine in southern New Mexico, flying from March 23 to October 2, peaking in May and again July to August. Males patrol vigorously along drainages. Adults come to nectar and moist earth. Comments. Edwards described this species in 1883 from material collected by Kansas Entomology Professor F. H. Snow near Las Vegas (SM). Your topographic position in the landscape can help you decide if you are looking at Green Skipper males or Pahaska Skipper males. If you’re on a hilltop, it’s Pahaska; if in a drainage, probably Green. Females of each can be found almost anywhere in the landscape.

Green Skipper (Hesperia viridis) Pacheco Canyon, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe Co., NM; July 15, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Green Skipper male (Hesperia viridis) Pacheco Canyon, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe Co., NM; June 29, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
possible Green Skipper female (Hesperia viridis) Pacheco Canyon, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe Co., NM; June 29, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Ochlodes sylvanoides (Boisduval)         Woodland Skipper (updated February 7, 2021)

Description. Woodland Skipper is small with a rusty gold hindwing below; its indistinct yellow postmedian band is repeated on the dorsal side. The forewing above has a dark margin with a saw-toothed inner edge. Males have a prominent, dark stigma and post-stigmal patch. Females are similarly marked, but without the stigma, of course. Range and Habitat. Ochlodes sylvanoides is distributed from British Columbia to Baja California and east to the Colorado Front Range. In New Mexico it occurs on the northwest flank of the Jemez Mountains and near Chama (counties: RA,Sv), where it prefers Transition Zone meadows and grassy streamsides, 7000 to 8500′ elevation. Life History. Scott (1992) placed this species in his hay-feeding guild. Likely New Mexico host grasses include these broad-leafed species: Agropyron trachycaulum, Agropyron repens, Bromus inermis, Bromus lanatipes, Dactylis glomerata, Phalaris arundinacea, Phleum pratense and Muhlenbergia racemosa. First instar larvae overwinter. Flight. One broad summer flight extends from June 6 to September 1, focused in July – August. Adults nectar and perch in damp meadows. Comments. Our Woodland Skippers are subspecies Ochlodes sylvanoides napa (W. H. Edwards), whose ventral hindwing marks have less contrast compared to the nominate subspecies.

Woodland Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides napa) SR 126 near Seven Springs Fish Hatchery, Jemez Mountains, Sandoval Co., NM; July 21, 2010 (photo by Ken Kertell).
Woodland Skipper male (Ochlodes sylvanoides napa) Sargent Wildlife Management Area, Rio Arriba Co., NM; August 2, 2000 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Ochlodes yuma (W. H. Edwards)                     Yuma Skipper (updated February 7, 2021)

Description. Yuma Skipper is larger and brighter than its sister Ochlodes species. Dorsally, Yuma is fulvous (rusty gold) with dark marks along the wing margin. Males have a narrow black stigma. Range and Habitat. Yuma Skipper occurs in colonies, sometimes distant and isolated from one another, throughout the Great Basin and parts of the western US. It occurs in close association with its larval host. Colonies range from sea level to over 6500′ elevation. New Mexico has two colonies (counties: SJ,Ta). Life History. Phragmites australis, the Common Reed, is the only larval host. This head-high, emergent aquatic grass lives near springs, seeps, rivers or lakes. Its occurrence in the Southwest has been influenced, positively and negatively, by human manipulation of hydrologic systems. Flight. Ochlodes yuma is univoltine in New Mexico, flying July 27 to September 8. Adults fly among reeds, rarely wandering more than a mile away. They nectar at nearby thistle, milkweed and rabbitbrush. Comments. We have one report of the nominate race, from west of the Continental Divide (SJ); it is dorsally orange and ventrally pale gold. More knowledge about this occurrence is needed. New Mexico’s best-known colony occurs east of the Divide, in the Rio Grande Gorge (Ta). This is subspecies Ochlodes yuma anasazi S. Cary & Stanford (1995), which is darker above and dusty ochre below with pale postmedian spots.

‘Anasazi’ Yuma Skipper (Ochlodes yuma anasazi) Wild Rivers Recreation Area, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, Taos Co., NM; August 28, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
‘Anasazi’ Yuma Skipper female (Ochlodes yuma anasazi) Wild Rivers Recreation Area, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, Taos Co., NM; September 8, 2016 (photo by Steve Cary).
‘Anasazi’ Yuma Skipper male (Ochlodes yuma anasazi) Big Arsenic Springs, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, Taos Co., NM; September 8, 2016 (photo by Steve Cary).
‘Anasazi’ Yuma Skipper larva (Ochlodes yuma anasazi) Rio Grande Gorge, Taos Co., NM; July 22, 2011 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Stinga morrisoni (W. H. Edwards)        Morrison’s Skipper (updated February 7, 2021)

Description. With respect to size, shape and general appearance, Morrison’s Skipper resembles one of the various Hesperia species, but the ventral hindwing has a distinctive long, white, dagger-shaped streak running from the base to the median area. Range and Habitat. Stinga morrisoni frequents Transition and Upper Sonoran Zone grasslands and savannas, from 5400 to 9200′ elevation. It is distributed from Colorado south to Arizona, west Texas and Mexico, including much of New Mexico (counties: Ca,Ch,Ci,Co,Ed,Gr,Li,LA,Lu,MK,Mo,Ot,RA,Sv,SJ,SM,Si,So,Ta,To). Life History. Scott (1992) found that Stipa scribneri (Poaceae) is a larval host in the Rocky Mountain Front Range. Other grasses (Poaceae) are suspected elsewhere. Mature larvae make grass tubes for overwintering. Flight. Stinga morrisoni is univoltine with adults on the wing in spring. Along our southern tier of counties, the adult flight interval reaches its maximum in April. Look for it in May elsewhere in the state. Extreme flight dates are March 20 and July 3. Males are persistent hilltoppers; both sexes will come to nectar (e.g., Glandularia) and water. Comments. Its hilltopping habits sometimes convey it to summits far above its breeding habitat, such as on Sierra Blanca at 11,997′ (Li). Its name honors H. K. Morrison, a frontier lepidopterist in the Southwest.

Morrison’s Skipper male (Stinga morrisoni) Mt. Taylor, Cibola Co., NM; May 23, 1991 (photo by Steve Cary).
Morrison’s Skipper male (Stinga morrisoni) near Eagle Peak, Gila Wilderness, Catron Co., NM; May 20, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Morrison’s Skipper female (Stinga morrisoni) Mt. Locke, McDonald Observatory, Jeff Davis Co., TX; March 19, 1995 (photo by Steve Cary).
Morrison’s Skipper female (Stinga morrisoni) Mt. Locke, McDonald Observatory, Jeff Davis Co., TX; April 15, 1994 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Lon hobomok (T. Harris)                            Hobomok Skipper (updated February 8, 2021)

Description. Hobomok Skipper is similar to Taxiles Skipper in appearance and habits. When fresh from the chrysalis, Hobomok males are lovely blue and gold underneath. Dark-scaled veins on the dorsum are lacking on Taxiles males. Lon hobomok females are more distinctly gold above than Lon taxiles females. Range and Habitat. Hobomok is prevalent in the rough triangle between Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Georgia. Outlier populations are scattered from western North Dakota south to eastern New Mexico (counties: Co,Li,Ot,Un) in montane or foothill habitats. They occupy drainages in Transition Zone woodlands, 7500 to 8500′ elevation, often sharing that habitat with Taxiles, whose flight sequence begins about a month after Hobomok’s. Life History. Hosts elsewhere are Panicum and Poa species. (Poaceae). Flight. Hobomok is univoltine, flying from May 12 to July 5, mostly in June. From perches on vegetation near stream banks, males patrol up- and down-drainage looking for females, often returning to the same perch. Females seem a tad reclusive. Both sexes sip nectar and moisture from mud. Comments. Our populations are best referred to subspecies Lon hobomok wetona Scott, which is smaller and lighter than the eastern form. James A. Scott first saw this skipper in New Mexico at Raton Mesa (Co) on 4 June 1973. Our other Hobomok population was discovered by Neil Dankert in the Capitan Mountains (Li) in 1995. Hobomok Skipper was recently moved from the genus Poanes (Pelham 2019).

‘Western’ Hobomok Skipper (Lon hobomok wetona) San Francisco Creek, Las Animas Co, CO; June 1, 1997 (photo by Steve Cary).
‘Western’ Hobomok Skipper (Lon hobomok wetona) South Fork Bonito Creek, Sierra Blanca, Lincoln Co., NM; May 19, 2002 (photo by Steve Cary).
‘Western’ Hobomok Skipper male (Lon hobomok wetona) Crazy French Ranch, Las Animas Co., CO; June 6, 2020 (photo by Steve Cary).
‘Western’ Hobomok Skipper male (Lon hobomok wetona) Sugarite Canyon State Park, Colfax Co, NM; June 21, 2019 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Lon taxiles (W. H. Edwards)                     Taxiles Skipper (updated February 8, 2021)

Description. Lon taxiles is quite sexually dimorphic. Males are gold above with narrow dark borders and gold below with irregular borders and dark ventral hindwing bases. Females have broad dark margins and dark wing bases above. Female Taxiles are purple-brown below with median gold patches. Range and Habitat. Taxiles Skipper occurs through the Rocky Mountains from Idaho, Wyoming and South Dakota south to the Mexican Sierra Madre and the higher mountains of west Texas. In New Mexico it inhabits Transition Zone riparian areas, generally 7,000 to 9,000′ elevation (counties: Be,Ca,Ci,Co,DA,Gr,Li,LA,MK,Mo,Ot,RA,Sv,SJ,SM,SF,Si,So,Ta,To,Un). Life History. Scott (1992) reported oviposition on 23 different grasses (Poaceae) and concluded that Lon taxiles will utilize any of a variety of tall, single-stem, broadleaf grasses and some bunchgrasses. Flight. Taxiles is univoltine in New Mexico. Records begin June 8, peak in July, and conclude on August 29. Adults patrol streamside habitats, perch with wings half open, nectar at meadow flowers, and extract moisture from moist sand on hot July days. Comments. Scott (1986) argued that Lon taxiles and eastern Lon zabulon (Boisduval and LeConte) were conspecific. Three specimens of Lon zabulon collected by F. H. Snow are attributed to New Mexico c. 1884, when he road the train from Kansas to Silver City. If actually collected here by Snow, which is debatable, they may have been imported as immatures in livestock feed, perhaps even on the train. There have been no subsequent reports and Lon zabulon does not currently occur in New Mexico as far as we know.

Taxiles Skipper male (Lon taxiles) Zuni Mountains, Cibola National Forest, Cibola Co., NM; July 8, 2007 (photo by Steve Cary).
Taxiles Skipper male (Lon taxiles) Opportunity Trail, Sugarite Canyon State Park, Colfax Co., NM; June 23, 2018 (photo by Steve Cary).
Taxiles Skipper (Lon taxiles) female and male, Ponderosa Trail, Sugarite Canyon State Park, Colfax Co., NM; June 22, 2018 (photo by Steve Cary).
Taxiles Skipper female (Lon taxiles) Camp May, Jemez Mountains, Santa Fe National Forest, Los Alamos Co., NM; July 21, 2018 (photo by Steve Cary).
Taxiles Skipper female (Lon taxiles) Railroad Canyon, Black Range, Grant Co., NM; July 22, 2018 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Lon melane (W. H. Edwards)                    Umber Skipper

Its elongated forewings make Umber Skipper our largest member of the Lon genus, but it is rarely encountered in New Mexico. Both sexes have the purple-brown ventral colors of Taxiles females, with faint pale spots. They are dark brown above with creamy spots. Umber Skipper is a Mexican species that reaches its northern limits in California (where it is an urban weed), Arizona, Texas and southwest New Mexico. Our few reports are from piñon-juniper woodlands, about 6500′ elevation, in the Animas Mountains (county: Hi). Those reports suggest that strays may establish ephemeral, peripheral colonies there. Larval hosts for this skipper include grasses (Poaceae) and a sedge (Cyperaceae) (Scott 1986). Specific New Mexico records are 22 May, 23 May and 6 September (all 1992), suggesting two broods per year where they breed. Adults were found in canyons. Our population belongs to subspecies Lon melane vitellina (Herrich-Schäffer), which is darker above than other subspecies. Umber Skipper has been placed by various workers in the genera Poanes, Paratrytone and now Lon.

Umber Skipper (Lon melane) near San Ysidro, Nuevo Leon, Mexico; October 24, 2002 (photo by Steve Cary).
Umber Skipper (Lon melane) Montana de Oro State Park, San Luis Obispo Co., CA; October 19, 2019 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Paratrytone snowi (W. H. Edwards)            Snow’s Skipper (updated February 8, 2021)

Description. Snow’s Skipper is of medium-size, dark brown above and unique rusty red-brown below. Cream colored spots occur above and below, with an hourglass-shaped spot in the dorsal forewing cell and a median dorsal hindwing median spot. Range and Habitat. Coppery Paratrytone snowi is a Rocky Mountain butterfly distributed from from southeast Wyoming south through Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and into Mexico along the Sierra Madre Occidental. In New Mexico it is regularly seen in Transition Zone savannas, usually 7000 – 9800′ elevation. It inhabits all our major mountain ranges except the Sacramentos, Capitans and Sandias (counties: Ca,Ci,Co,Gr,LA,MK,Mo,Sv,SM,SF,Si,So,Ta,To). Life History. Blepharoneuron tricholepis is a larval host grass (Poaceae) in southern Colorado. Muhlenbergia montana is another possibility here. Flight. Snow’s Skipper is univoltine, flying between July 6 and August 28. It is usually found along dry gulches creek edges, nectaring at pink and purple flowers in the understory of open ponderosa pine woodlands. Comments. William Henry Edwards named it for Professor Francis Huntington Snow, the pioneering University of Kansas entomologist who made important collections in the West in the late 1800s. Long considered to be one of the Ochlodes species, Burns (1992) moved Snow’s Skipper to the genus Paratrytone.

Snow’s Skipper (Paratrytone snowi) Fox Mountain Lookout, Gallo Mountains, Catron Co., NM; August 13, 1994 (photo by Steve Cary).
Snow’s Skipper male (Paratrytone snowi) Pacheco Canyon, Santa Fe National Forest, Santa Fe Co., NM; July 27, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Snow’s Skipper male (Paratrytone snowi) Pacheco Canyon, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe Co., NM; July 15, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Snow’s Skipper male (Paratrytone snowi) Holy Ghost Canyon, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, San Miguel Co., NM; July 19, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Atrytonopsis hianna (Scudder)                    Dusted Skipper (updated February 8, 2021)

Description. Like all eight of our Atrytonopsis species, Dusted Skipper is of medium size with elongated forewings, gray-brown ground color, and white marks above. Unique features include a rounded hindwing and a nearly immaculate ventral hindwing dusted blue-gold when fresh from the chrysalis. There may be a faint postmedian row of dark marks on the hindwing below. Range and Habitat. Atrytonopsis hianna is our only ‘eastern’ Atrytonopsis. There are a few isolated populations in the western High Plains, including northern New Mexico (counties: Co,LA,Sv,Un). Dusted Skipper inhabits mesic prairies and valley bottoms, 6000 to 8600’ elevation. Life History. Our colonies have larvae that eat bluestem grasses: Andropogon gerardii and Andropogon scoparius (Poaceae). Mature larvae overwinter. Flight. Dusted Skippers are univoltine in New Mexico with adults in flight between May 15 and June 28. Adults perch and nectar (e.g., iris, thistle) in gully bottoms and swales near stands of the host grasses. Comments. Our populations belong to subspecies Atrytonopsis hianna turneri H. Freeman. This Great Plains butterfly has been seen at its southwestern-most outpost on Burnt Mesa in Bandelier National Monument (LA,Sv).

‘Western’ Dusted Skipper (Atrytonopsis hianna turneri) Rambo Canyon west of Raton, Colfax Co., NM; May 15, 2000 (photo y Steve Cary).
Dusted Skipper (Atrytonopsis hianna turneri) McGee Creek Wildlife Management Area, Atoka Co., OK; May 1, 2018 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).

Top↑

Atrytonopsis deva (W. H. Edwards)                 Deva Skipper (updated February 9, 2021)

Description. Deva Skipper can be separated from other Atrytonopsis species, but it requires a view of the right parts. The chief difference is that the dorsal forewing is less marked with white. Compared to the very similar Atrytonopsis vierecki, with which it may fly, the white spots are small and there is no white spot in the dorsal forewing cell. That sounds simple enough to look for, but views of the dorsal forewing are not always offered. Range and Habitat. With the exception of Dusted Skipper, all our Atrytonopsis species occupy limited geographic ranges in the Southwest. Deva has a restricted distribution from the Mogollon Rim in Arizona and New Mexico (counties: Ca,Gr,Hi,Si) south into the northern Sierra Madre of Mexico. In that region it can be common if you know when and where to look. In New Mexico it lives in Upper Sonoran Zone piñon-juniper-oak savanna habitats in desert mountains and foothills, 4500 to 8200′ elevation. Life History. Grasses (Poaceae) are the likely larval hostplants. Flight. Adult flight records in New Mexico span April 16 to July 6, indicating one annual generation peaking in May. Later summer reports probably refer to the similar Atrytonopsis lunus. Adults perch and nectar in drainages. Comments. Our first report was by P. R. Gleason, who collected it near Central (Gr) on 1 June 1938; this specimen is in the US National Museum. Scott (1986) suggested that Deva may be a southwestern subspecies of Atrytonopsis hianna.

Deva Skipper (Atrytonopsis deva) Geronimo Pass, Peloncillo Mountains, Hidalgo Co., NM; May 7, 1988 (photo by Steve Cary).
Deva Skipper male (Atrytonopsis deva) near Eagle Peak, Gila Wilderness, Catron Co., NM; May 21, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Deva Skipper male (Atrytonopsis deva) near Eagle Peak, Gila Wilderness, Catron Co., NM; May 21, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Deva Skipper female (Atrytonopsis deva) Black range, Sierra Co., NM; June 5, 2007 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Atrytonopsis lunus (W. H. Edwards) Moon-Marked Skipper

Description. Moon-Marked Skipper has a very dark ground color. There is a white hourglass spot in the dorsal forewing cell and a prominent hindwing white fringe. Freshly-emerged adults have a violet dusting on the ventral hindwing. Range and Habitat. The distribution of this species is slightly more restricted than that of Atrytonopsis deva. In New Mexico, look for it in well-watered, Upper Sonoran Zone canyons (counties: DA,Gr,Hi), 4800 to 7500′ elevation. Life History. Bailowitz and Brock (1991) reported oviposition on Muhlenbergia species in southeast Arizona, later confirmed as Muhlenbergia emersleyi. This grass is common in southwest New Mexico and probably is a larval host there, too. Flight. This is the only New Mexico Atrytonopsis species that flies in mid-summer and that is the best way to identify it. Univoltine adults are on the wing between June 24 and August 29, during the climax of the monsoon season. Reports from earlier in the season are misidentified. Adults are attracted to moist earth and nectar along canyon bottoms. Comments. Our earliest report is from the Organ Mountains (DA), 29 August (ca. 1900) by T. D. A. Cockerell, who misidentified it as Atrytonopsis vierecki, which had only recently been described from specimens collected near Alamogordo. This butterfly remains poorly known in New Mexico.

Moon-Marked Skipper (Atrytonopsis lunus) Peloncillo Mountains, Hidalgo Co., NM; August 8, 2020 (photo by Raymond VanBuskirk).
Moon-Marked Skipper (Atrytonopsis lunus) near Little Walnut Canyon, Pinos Altos Mountains, Grant Co., NM; August 1884; F. H. Snow’s specimen residing in Snow Entomological Museum, University of Kansas (2002 photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Atrytonopsis vierecki (Skinner)                Viereck’s Skipper (updated January 9, 2021)

Description. Viereck’s Skipper comes with the standard Atrytonopsis package, but with a forewing is relatively narrow and elongate compared to sister species. Above, the forewing has large white spots, including an hourglass-shaped spot in the cell, which Deva lacks. The hoary hindwing below has median bands of variably-expressed dark smudges. The dorsal hindwing is unmarked gray-brown. Range and Habitat. This is the most widespread of all southwestern Atrytonopsis species. It is known from Utah, Colorado, Arizona, west Texas and most of Upper Sonoran Zone New Mexico (counties: all but DB,Le,Ro,Ta). Its altitudinal range here is mostly 4500 to 7400′, but it has been found as high as 9200′. Life History. There are no known reports of larval hostplants, but one or more grasses (Poaceae) are the only possibilities. Flight. Atrytonopsis vierecki is univoltine with adults about in May; extreme dates are March 18 and July 4. Later summer reports usually prove to be Moon-Marked Skippers. Male Viereck’s perch on gully-bottom rocks and canyon walls, buzz after intruders, and return to their perch. Adults cruise purple nectar. Comments. This species was described from specimens taken by Henry L. Viereck in Dry Canyon, near Alamogordo (Ot), 8 to 13 May 1902.

Viereck’s Skipper (Atrytonopsis vierecki) Cerrillos Hills State Park, Santa Fe Co., NM; May 20, 2007 (photo by Steve Cary).
Viereck’s Skipper (Atrytonopsis vierecki) Cerrillos Hills State Park, Santa Fe Co., NM; May 20, 2007 (photo by Steve Cary).
Viereck’s Skipper (Atrytonopsis vierecki) Hadley Draw, Cooke’s Peak, Luna Co., NM; April 24, 1988 (photo by State Cary).
Viereck’s Skipper (Atrytonopsis vierecki) Embudito Canyon, Sandia Mountains, Cibola National Forest, Bernalillo Co., NM; June 1, 2017 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).

Top↑

Atrytonopsis pittacus (W. H. Edwards)       White-Barred Skipper (updated February 9, 2021)

Description. Unlike its sister species, White-Barred Skipper has a distinctive straight, white postmedian stripe on the hindwing upperside and underside. It also has the dorsal forewing white cell spot. Range and Habitat. Atrytonopsis pittacus is distributed like other western members of the genus, but also including a satellite population in west Texas and Mexico’s Sierra del Carmen. In New Mexico it resides in Upper Sonoran Zone grasslands sprinkled with juniper, oak or piñon, generally 4700 to 7500′ elevation (counties: Ca,DA,Gr,Hi,Lu,Si). Life History. Larval hostplants for White-Barred Skipper remain a mystery, except for a reported oviposition on Bouteloua curtipendula (Poaceae) in southeast Arizona. That and other grasses are the likely hostplants here. Flight. Atrytonopsis pittacus completes one brood annually. Peak flight is in April, while extreme dates are March 18 and May 20. Unlike congeners, males establish territories on hilltops rather than in drainages. Adults seek nectar and wet soil. Comments. Our oldest report is a specimen in the Allyn Museum of Entomology, collected by Ms. P. Hoyt at the Catwalk (Ca) on 10 May 1964.

White-Barred Skipper (Atrytonopsis pittacus) east slope Black Range, Sierra Co., NM; March 19, 2011 (photo by Steve Cary).
White-Barred Skipper (Atrytonopsis pittacus) Chiricahua National Monument, Cochise Co. AZ; May 13, 2019 (photo by Steve Cary).
White-Barred Skipper (Atrytonopsis pittacus) road to McDonald Observatory, Jeff Davis Co., TX; April 15, 1994 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Atrytonopsis margarita (Skinner)        Margarita Skipper (updated February 9, 2021)

Description. Margarita Skipper is brightly marked for an Atrytonopsis. It has whitish spots on the forewing topside. The ventral hindwing sports two arcs of white spots against a tan background that, on fresh specimens, can be overscaled with blue. Compared to that of White-Barred Skipper, the dorsal hindwing spot band is bent and may be weakly expressed. Wing fringes are checkered. Range and Habitat. Atrytonopsis margarita lives in Upper Sonoran and Transition Zones from north-central New Mexico south toward Texas, Mexico and Arizona. In our state look for it from 5500 to 8500′ elevation in mountain foothills and canyon-mesa country (counties: Be,Ca,Ch,Ci,DA,Ed,Gr,Gu?,Hi,Li,LA,Lu,MK,Ot,RA,Sv,SF,Si,So,To). Life History. Larval hosts are unidentified grasses (Poaceae). Flight. Adults fly here between May 3 and July 12, peaking in June. Records as late as August 10 suggest an occasional partial second brood, perhaps triggered by generous summer rains. Males patrol canyons and arroyos; both sexes come greedily to nectar. Hilltopping is noted occasionally. Comments. Observers on our southern border should look closely for the more localized Atrytonopsis python (W. H. Edwards), with which Margarita may fly. They are very similar, but Margarita’s wing spots are white, while Python’s are yellow. Ventrally, whitish overscaling on brownish ground color gives Margarita’s wings a paler cast than in freshly-emerged Python. Python and Margarita have a taxonomic history befitting their phenotypic similarities. Margarita was first described as a full species by Henry Skinner in 1913 from specimens collected in the Jemez Mountains (Sv) by John Woodgate. It then spent most of the 20th Century being treated as a form or variety of Python. Most recently, Burns (2015) used genitalic characters to separate them once again and re-elevate Margarita to a full species.   

Margarita Skipper (Atrytonopsis margarita) Dripping Springs, Organ Mountains, Dona Ana Co., NM; June 6, 1982 (photo by Steve Cary).
Margarita Skipper (Atrytonopsis margarita) Deer Creek, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe Co., NM; May 27, 2011 (photo by Steve Cary).
Margarita Skipper (Atrytonopsis margarita) Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Culberson Co., TX; May 31, 1985 (photo by Steve Cary).
possible Python Skipper (Atrytonopsis python) OK Canyon, Cooke’s Range, Luna Co., NM; May 25, 1992 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Atrytonopsis edwardsi W. Barnes & McDunnough   Sheep Skipper (updated February 8, 2021)

Description. Sheep Skipper resembles Margarita Skipper, but the hindwing is more rounded and the forewing is less elongate, making for a boxier creature. The dorsal hindwing usually has a post-basal white spot which is absent in Margarita and Python. Wing fringes are checked. Range and Habitat. Atrytonopsis edwardsi has a limited distribution in the Mexican Sierra Madre and the Sierra del Carmen, barely reaching into southeast Arizona, southwest Texas and southwest New Mexico (counties: Hi). Here it is a denizen of in Upper Sonoran Zone canyons, 4500 to 5000′ elevation. Life History. In southeast Arizona, larvae eat Bouteloua curtipendula and probably Leptochloa dubia (Bailowitz and Brock 1991, Brock 1993). Flight. There are three New Mexico records of Sheep Skipper, all from Guadalupe Canyon from September 3 to 8. It is bivoltine elsewhere, with a spring flight in April – June. Adults perch head-down on canyon walls, out of reach of net and camera. They also come to moist earth. Comments. More exploration in New Mexico’s infrequently butterflied Bootheel could demonstrate that this lovely skipper has a greater presence than existing data suggest.

Sheep Skipper (Atrytonopsis edwardsi) Pinaleno Mountains, Graham Co., AZ; August 9, 1984 (photo by Steve Cary).
Sheep Skipper (Atrytonopsis edwardsi) Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, Jeff Davis Co., TX; April 16, 1994 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Amblyscirtes nysa W. H. Edwards    Nysa Roadside-Skipper (updated February 9, 2021)

Description. Nysa Roadside-Skipper is one of the most distinct species in this genus because the ventral hindwing is mottled with splotches of pale gray and brown. Wing fringes are checkered black and white. Uppersides are black-brown, with a few small forewing postmedian white spots. Range and Habitat. Amblyscirtes nysa is widespread in Mexico extending north into southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, Oklahoma and much of Texas. In our state it prefers warm, grassy canyons and arroyos below 5500′ elevation (counties: Ch,DB,DA,Ed,Gr,Hi,Le,Ot?,Qu,Ro). Life History. Larval host grasses include Echinochloa muricata, Digitaria sanguinalis, Stenotaphrum secundatum, Setaria glauca, and Paspalum species. Flight. Although Nysa is multivoltine farther south, there are just two generations per year in New Mexico. The first flies from May 6 to June 10; the second responds to summer/autumn rains and is on the wing between July 11 and October 4. Males establish territories in sandy gully bottoms or sandy roadbeds; both sexes seek nectar. Comments. Hugh Avery Freeman gets credit for our first record of Amblyscirtes nysa, which he found near Tucumcari (Qu) on 11 July 1942.

Nysa Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes nysa) Purcell Lake, Purcell, McClain Co., OK; April 20, 2006 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).
Nysa Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes nysa) Box Canyon, Santa Rita Mountains, Pima Co., AZ; July 30, 2018 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).
Nysa Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes nysa) Dog Canyon, big Bend National Park, Brewster Co., TX; March 27, 1997 (photo by Steve Cary).
Nysa Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes nysa) Deer Creek, Animas Mountains, Hidalgo Co., NM; August 1, 1992 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Amblyscirtes vialis (W. H. Edwards)   Common Roadside-Skipper (updated February 9, 2021)

Description. On Amblyscirtes vialis, the upperside is black-brown with three tiny subapical white spots and maybe a spot or two in the forewing postmedian area. The underside is black/brown heavily frosted with blue-white overscaling and a vague hindwing postmedian band. Wing fringes are distinctly checkered tan and brown. Range and Habitat. Common Roadside-Skipper occurs widely across temperate North America, including the central Rocky Mountains and northern New Mexico uplands (counties: Co,LA,Mo,RA,Sv,SF,Ta,Un). Here it is a Transition Zone insect inhabiting grassy openings and draws in moist oak/pine woodlands between 6500 and 9000′ elevation. Life History. Larvae eat mesic grasses like Bromus lanatipes, Bromus inermis, Agropyron trachycaulum and Phleum pratense. Larvae overwinter. Flight. The single annual generation flies from May 11 to July 22, with maximum numbers in June. Adults are found in foothills and mountain meadows near streams. They perch on grasses and are fond of nectar. Comments. Our earliest report is from J. R. Merritt, who found it at Taos Pass (Ta) on 22 June 1955. Worn individuals can be difficult to identify due to lack of marks.

Common Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes vialis) Cerrososo Canyon, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Colfax Co, NM; June 6, 1998 (photo by Steve Cary).
Common Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes vialis) Sugarite Canyon State Park, Colfax Co., NM; June 28, 2008 (photo by Steve Cary)

Top↑

Amblyscirtes aenus W. H. Edwards   Bronze Roadside-Skipper (updated December 15, 2020)

Description. Bronze Roadside-Skipper is gray-brown with coarse-checked fringes. Variable forewing spots are less orange than in Cassus Roadside-Skipper, but more orange than in Texas Roadside-Skipper; there is no forewing cell spot. Ventral hindwing spots are weaker than in Cassus, but stronger than in Oslar’s Roadside-Skipper. The forewing apex is more rounded than in Amblyscirtes oslari. Range and Habitat. This is our most widespread Amblyscirtes species (all counties except Le,LA,Ro,SJ,Va). It occupies Upper Sonoran Zone and lower Transition Zone gulches and canyons, 5000 to 8000′ elevation. It is distributed from Utah and Colorado south into Mexico. Life History. Bailowitz and Brock (1991) suspected Bouteloua curtipendula and Bromus anomalus (Poaceae) as probable hosts in southeast Arizona. Brock (1993) confirmed use of Echinochloa crusgalli there. Larvae use Agropyron ambiguus in Colorado (Scott 1992). Larvae hibernate. Flight. Ambyscirtes aenus is single-brooded in northeast New Mexico, peaking in May. It is univoltine at higher sites, peaking in June – July. It is bivoltine in southern New Mexico peaking in May and again in July to August. Extreme dates are April 3 and September 30. Adults come to flowers; males defend arroyo-bottom and canyon-bottom territories. Comments. Old reports of Amblyscirtes erna H. A. Freeman from eastern New Mexico are probably this species. Scott (1986) treated A. erna as a subspecies of A. aenus.

Bronze Roadside-Skipper (Ambyscirtes aenus) Pine Flat Picnic Area, Manzano Mountains, Bernalillo Co., NM; June 2, 2017 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).
Bronze Roadside-Skipper (Ambyscirtes aenus) west of Kingston, Black Range, Sierra Co., NM; June 5, 2007 (photo by Steve Cary).
Bronze Roadside-Skipper (Ambyscirtes aenus) Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge, Mora Co., NM; July 24, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Bronze Roadside-Skipper (Ambyscirtes aenus) Chiricahua National Monument, Cochise Co., AZ; May 16, 2019 (photo by Steve Cary).
Bronze Roadside-Skipper (Ambyscirtes aenus) Ruby Road, Santa Cruz Co., AZ; July 31, 2018 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).

Top↑

Amblyscirtes cassus W. H. Edwards    Cassus Roadside-Skipper (updated February 10, 2021)

Description. Cassus is our orangest Amblyscirtes species. Its forewing upperside is brown with orange spots, including a prominent cell spot. Fine, dense, black and white striations create a grizzled appearance on the hindwing underside. Wing fringes are checkered black and white. When worn, it can be confused with Bronze Roadside-Skipper. Range and Habitat. Amblyscirtes cassus has a classic southwestern distribution that includes northern Mexico, west Texas, Arizona and New Mexico (counties: Ca,Ci,Co,Gr,Hi,Li,LA,MK,Ot,RA,Sv,SM,SF,Si,So). It prefers pine woodlands having lots of understory grasses, 5400 to 9200′ elevation. Reports are sparse at its northern limits in north-central New Mexico. Life History. Bailowitz and Brock (1991) reported larvae feeding on Panicum bulbosum (Poaceae) in some southeast Arizona mountains, but other grasses are also suspected as larval hosts. Flight. Adults fly in a single summer generation, May 30 to August 26, peaking in July. Adults come to nectar (e.g., Vicia) and water, often in riparian situations. Males have been observed to establish territories on forest roads. Comments. F. H. Snow collected the first New Mexico specimen in Gallinas Canyon near Las Vegas (SM) in August of 1882.

Cassus Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes cassus), west of Alto, Sierra Blanca, Lincoln Co., NM; July 1, 2000 (photo by Steve Cary).
Cassus Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes cassus) Railroad Canyon, Black Range, Grant Co., NM; July 22, 2018 (photo by Steve Cary).
Cassus Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes cassus) Bear Trap Campground, San Mateo Mountains, Socorro Co., NM; June 25, 2009 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Amblyscirtes texanae E. Bell         Texas Roadside-Skipper (updated February 10, 2021)

Description. Compared to Bronze Roadside-Skipper, with which it is often confused, Texas Roadside-Skipper is less colorful. There is no orange on any wing surface. Forewing spots, including a cell spot that is absent in Bronze Roadside-Skipper, are cream-colored. Wing fringes are checkered white and tan. Range and Habitat. Like many of its sister species, Amblyscirtes texanae occurs from Arizona, New Mexico and Texas south into northern Mexico, preferring Lower and Upper Sonoran Zone rocky canyons. In our state it occurs lower in the landscape than other canyon-patrolling roadside-skipper species, usually 3500 to 6000′ elevation (counties: Ca,Ch,Ci,DA,Ed,Gr,Hi,Le,Lu,Ot,Qu,Si,So). Life History. Bionomics of this species are poorly known, but Brock (1993) confirmed Panicum bulbosum (Poaceae) as a larval host in southeast Arizona. Flight. Adults fly in two annual generations here. Extreme dates are April 28 and August 26, but maximum numbers are in May and again in July. Males establish territories on canyon-side rocks. Adults like nectar and moist soil. Hot afternoons may be spent perched head-upward on shaded, vertical rock walls. Comments. Our northernmost report (Ci) may represent a stray. Our oldest report is from near Tucumcari (Qu) on 25 August 1941 by H. A. Freeman.

Texas Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes texanae) Deer Creek, Animas Mountains, Hidalgo Co., NM; August 1, 1992 (photo by Steve Cary).
Texas Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes texanae) Cottonwood Canyon, Peloncillo Mountains, Hidalgo Co., NM; August 6, 2007 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Amblyscirtes tolteca Scudder       Toltec Roadside-Skipper (Updated February 10, 2021)

Toltec Roadside-Skipper is documented from New Mexico by virtue of a single individual photographed in 1982. On July 31, while visiting Post Office Canyon on the west slope of the Peloncillo Mountains, Hidalgo County, the author photographed a roadside-skipper that resisted his ability to identify it. An extra white spot in the cell of forewing eventually led to an identification of Amblyscirtes tolteca. That species is somewhat better known in adjacent Arizona, but it is not common there either, because the main part of its distribution is in northern Mexico. Toltec Roadside-Skippers fly in canyons and arroyos, nectaring at flowers. They undergo two or three generations per year, generally April into September. This is another member of that cloud of different roadside-skippers that live in the New Mexico Bootheel. When observing butterflies in that area, it is best to take as many photos from as many angles as possible, until you get to be on a first-name basis with all the skippers.

Toltec Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscrtes tolteca) Post Office Canyon, Peloncillo Mountains, Hidalgo Co., NM; July 31, 1982 (photo by Steve Cary).
Toltec Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscrtes tolteca) Post Office Canyon, Peloncillo Mountains, Hidalgo Co., NM; July 31, 1982 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Amblyscirtes nereus (W. H. Edwards)  Slaty Roadside-Skipper (updated February 10, 2021)

Description. The olive-cream-gray ventral hindwing of Slaty Roadside-Skipper is unique. Against this background, underside pale spots may seem indistinct. Dorsal spots are prominent against a slate gray ground; there is no cell spot on the forewing upperside. Range and Habitat. The limited geographic distribution of this skipper includes southeast Arizona, the northern Sierra Madre of Mexico, west Texas and southern New Mexico (counties: Ca,Ed,Gr,Hi,Si). It inhabits Upper Sonoran Zone canyons in our larger desert mountain ranges, usually below 6000′ elevation, but occasionally up to 8000′. Life History. Larval hostplants of Amblyscirtes nereus are unknown grasses (Poaceae). Flight. Adult Slatys fly during the summer monsoons; our extreme dates are July 2 to August 23. There is evidence of a partial spring brood in southeast Arizona (Bailowitz and Brock 1991). Males patrol up and down foothill canyons, often stopping for refreshment at flowers or moist earth. Comments. Differentiating the various Roadside-Skipper presents a never-ending, yet fascinating, challenge. To learn them, go to a place where two different kinds fly together and study their appearance, variability, and behaviors.

Slaty Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes nereus) Deer Creek, Animas Mountains, Hidalgo Co., NM; July 20, 1991 (photo by Steve Cary).
Slaty Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes nereus) Canyon near Fort Davis, Jeff Davis Co., TX; April 16, 1994 (photo by Steve Cary).
Slaty Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes nereus) east slope Black Range, Sierra Co., NM; July 13, 2016 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Amblyscirtes eos (W. H. Edwards)      Dotted Roadside-Skipper (updated February 10, 2021)

Description. Tiny Dotted Roadside-Skipper is gray below with black-rimmed white dots arranged in a hindwing postmedian band and a basal pair. It is dark gray above with postmedian spots on the forewing. Fringes are checkered. Range and Habitat. Amblyscirtes eos occurs in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and northern Mexico. It inhabits Upper Sonoran Zone grasslands, preferring disturbed sites. It is widespread in our state below 8000′ elevation, but absent from moist mountains (all counties except Ca,Ci,LA,MK,RA,SJ,Ta). Life History. Larvae probably eat a variety of grasses. Bailowitz and Brock (1991) reported Panicum obtusum (Poaceae) as a likely host in southeast Arizona, where Brock (1993) later confirmed use of Bothriocola barbinodis. Flight. Dotted Roadside-Skipper has one to two extended annual broods. In southern New Mexico there are flight peaks in April to May and again in August, with extreme dates of March 26 and September 29. Northern New Mexico records span April 30 to August 31 with a peak in June. Adults perch on the ground in swales and come to nectar. Comments. In 1911, H. Skinner described Pamphila quinquemacula from Las Cruces (DA), but it is now a junior synonym of Amblyscirtes eos.

Dotted Roadside-Skipper (Ambyscirtes eos) David Hill, Harding Co., NM; June 10, 1988 (photo by Steve Cary).
Dotted Roadside-Skipper (Ambyscirtes eos) Caprock Park south of San Jon, Quay co., NM; April 19, 2019 (photo by Steve Cary).
Dotted Roadside-Skipper (Ambyscirtes eos) Sumner Lake State Park, DeBaca Co., NM; April 13, 2018 (photo by Steve Cary).
Dotted Roadside-Skipper (Ambyscirtes eos) Eyebrow Trail, Dog Canyon, Sacramento Mountains, Otero Co., NM; April 25, 1981 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Amblyscirtes oslari (Skinner)    Oslar’s Roadside-Skipper (updated February 10, 2021)

Description. Compared to Bronze Roadside-Skipper, Oslar’s Roadside-Skipper has a uniform pale gray ventral ground color and semi-prominent spotting on all wings. The forewing apex is more pointed than in sister species. Fringe checkering is negligible. Worn individuals are a challenge to identify. Range and Habitat. This skipper lives east and south of the Rocky Mountains from Saskatchewan south to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It is widespread in New Mexico grasslands, 4500 to 8000′ elevation (all counties but Cu,DB,Gu,Hi,Le,Ro,SJ,Si). Life History. Larvae of Amblyscirtes oslari prefer to eat Bouteloua curtipendula, but seem to tolerate Andropogon scoparius and Andropogon gerardii (all Poaceae) (Scott 1992). Flight. One extended generation spans April 21 to August 6, peaking in June. Males patrol low grassy areas. Adults appreciate fine nectar. Comments. Southern New Mexico records suggest an early brood in late April to May and a second brood in late July during the summer monsoon. John Woodgate collected our first specimens, in the Jemez Mountains in 1913.

Oslar’s Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes oslari) Deer Creek, west of Glorieta, Santa Fe Co., NM; May 27, 2011 (photo by Steve Cary).
Oslar’s Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes oslari) Pine Flat Picnic Area, Manzano Mountains, Cibola National Forest, Bernalillo Co., NM; June 2, 2017 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).
Oslar’s Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes oslari) Embudito Canyon, Sandia Mountains, Bernalillo Co., NM; June 2, 2017 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).

Top↑

Amblyscirtes exoteria (Herrich-Schäffer)   Large Roadside-Skipper

Description. Our largest Amblyscirtes species has a grizzled, dark gray-brown ground color above and below, with widely separated small white spots. There also is a spot in the forewing cell. Wing fringes are whitish with gray checks. There may be a brassy cast to the upperside. Range and Habitat. Large Roadside-Skipper is of Sierra Madrean affinity, but its range extends north to the Mogollon Rim of Arizona and New Mexico (counties: Ca,Gr,Hi,Si). In our state it occupies Upper Sonoran grasslands and open woodlands, 5200 to 8200′ elevation. Life History. Brock (1993) confirmed Muhlenbergia emersleyi (Poaceae) as a host in southeast Arizona and it is probably used in New Mexico as well. Flight. Amblyscirtes exoteria completes one generation per year with adults on the wing during the monsoon season; early and late dates are July 5 and August 20. Adults prefer canyons or riparian situations where they sip nectar and moist earth, sometimes flying in semi-shade on hot afternoons. Comments. Our first New Mexico report came from John P. Hubbard, Pinos Altos Mountains (Gr), 5-8 July 1958; this specimen is in the Allyn Museum of Entomology.

Large Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes exoteria) Double Adobe Creek, Animas Mountains, Hidalgo Co., NM; July 21, 1991 (photo by Steve Cary).
Large Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes exoteria) Geronimo Pass, Peloncillo Mountains, Hidalgo Co., NM; August 6, 2007 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Amblyscirtes phylace (W. H. Edwards) Orange-Headed Roadside-Skipper (updated February 11 2021)

Description. What’s in a name? “Orange-Headed Roadside-Skipper” says all you need to know. Amblyscirtes phylace is slate gray to glossy black on all wing surfaces, with cream-colored wing fringes. The head and palps are orange, more so even than on Dun Skipper, with which it may sometimes fly. Also, Dun Skipper is larger, browner, and its fringes are dark brown like the wings. Range and Habitat. Amblyscirtes phylace lives in grassy gullies and canyons in ponderosa pine savannas in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas. In our state it inhabits major mountain ranges (counties: Be,Ca,Ci,Co,Gr,Li,LA,MK,Mo,Ot,RA,Sv,SM,Si,So,To,Un), usually from 6000 to 9200’ elevation. Life History. In Colorado the preferred larval host is big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), but Bouteloua curtipendula is sometimes used (both Poaceae). Flight. This handsome skipper completes one generation per year, with adults about from May 19 to July 30, primarily in June. Males perch on gully banks and patrol up- and downstream, chasing interlopers and courting females. Adults feed at flowers and damp soil. Comments. When worn, Orange-Headed Roadside-Skipper can be confused with its orange-fringed Mexican counterpart, Amblyscirtes fimbriata (Plötz). It would be nice to add that latter species to our state’s butterfly fauna, so specimens from far southwest New Mexico should be examined closely to ensure proper identification.

Orange-Headed Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes phylace) Cedar Creek north of Ruidoso, Sierra Blanca, Lincoln Co., NM; June 11, 1988 (photo by Steve Cary).
Orange-Headed Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes phylace) Sugarite Canyon State Park, Colfax Co., NM; June 22, 2018 (photo by Steve Cary).
Orange-Headed Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes phylace) Sugarite Canyon State Park, Colfax Co., NM; June 22, 2019 (photo by Steve Cary).
Orange-Headed Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes phylace) Cerrososo Canyon north of US 64, Colfax Co., NM; June 6, 1998 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Lerodea eufala (W. H. Edwards)               Eufala Skipper

Description. Eufala is a small, gray-brown skipper, that approaches nondescript. It is slightly darker above than below, with arcs of white median and postmedian spots on the forewing. Range and Habitat. Eufala breeds in Pacific coastal areas of California and Mexico, and in Atlantic coastal areas from Mexico to the Carolinas. Its occasional appearance in New Mexico (counties: DA,Ed,Gr,Gu,Hi,Le,Ot,Ro,Ta) is considered accidental because there is no evidence of breeding here. When found, it is usually at low elevation (3800 to 5500′) in nectar-rich, damp areas as are usually frequented by strays. Life History. Lerodea eufala breeds year-round in its more southerly coastal homes where larvae eat various grasses (Scott 1986), including exotics like the Zea mays (corn), Sorghum species and Saccharum species (sugar cane). Flight. New Mexico has several scattered records of Eufala, typically from July 19 to November 12, during and after the summer monsoon. In recent years, this bland skipper has become almost expected in the Las Cruces area.

Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala) Mission, Hidalgo Co., TX; October 20, 2002 (photo by Steve Cary).
Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala) Big Bend National Park, Brewster Co., TX; November 11, 2018 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Lerema accius (J. E. Smith)                  Clouded Skipper (updated February 11, 2021)

Clouded Skipper has a distinctive pattern of white spots on the black forewing upperside. Patches of tan and brown on the hindwing below also are diagnostic. Lerema accius lives and breeds year-round along the west coast of Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico, but adults often wander north. It is a rare visitor to wet oases along our southern border (counties: Ed,Hi). This skipper is an occasional, seasonal breeder in south Texas and southern Arizona. McGuire and Rickard (1974) cited Paspalum ciliatifolium and Pennisetum ciliare as hosts in Texas. Sorghum halapense and Echinochloa crusgalli have been exploited in southeast Arizona (Brock 1993). We find it here rarely in late summer; our few records span September 13 to November 20. It cannot survive New Mexico winters. The Clouded Skipper was first seen here at Rattlesnake Springs (Ed) in 1986.

Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius) Oka’Yanahli Preserve, Johnston Co, OK; September 13, 2013 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius) Cola de Caballo south of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, MX; October 24, 2002 (photo by Steve Cary).
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius) Estero Llano Grande State Park, Hidalgo Co., TX; November 6, 2013 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).

Top↑

Oarisma garita (Reakirt)                         Garita Skipperling (updated February 12, 2021)

Description. Our three Oarisma species are very small; the first two can be hard to distinguish. Garita Skipperling has an orange upperside, but the orange is usually hidden by heavy, black overscaling, creating a dark, ‘burnt’ orange look. The hindwing is mostly gold below, but with diagnostic white veins. Range and Habitat. Oarisma garita lives from the Mexican Sierra Madre northward in the Rockies as far as southern Canada. It is the most boreal of our tiny orange skippers, living in Transition and Canadian Zone meadows from 8,000 to 11,000′ elevation in our major uplands (counties: Be,Ca,Ci,Co,Gr,Li,LA,MK,Mo,Ot,RA,Sv,SM,SF,Si,So,Ta,To,Un). Life History. Grasses (Poaceae) and sedges (Cyperaceae) are hosts for larvae. After listing several bunch, turf and hay grasses, butterfly ecologist James A. Scott called Oarisma garita “the most polyphagous monocotyledon-feeding skipper known.” Flight. Adult Garita fly in alpine meadows, often coming to nectar. Its one annual flight spans May 15 to August 26, peaking in July. Comments. An old specimen in the American Museum of Natural History is labelled “Rincon, 25 June 1898.” The name “Rincon” is of colonial Spanish origin and could refer to many different places (Julyan 1996). Habitat preferences and popular collecting localities of that time suggest it was probably taken north of Las Vegas (SM).

Garita Skipperling (Oarisma garita) Camp May, Jemez Mountains, Los Alamos Co., NM; July 22, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Garita Skipperling (Oarisma garita) near Hopewell Lake, Tusas Mountains, Rio Arriba Co., NM; July 11, 2020 (photo by Steve Cary).
Garita Skipperling (Oarisma garita) Valles Caldera National Preserve, Sandoval Co., NM; June 8, 2020 (photo by Marc Bailey).

Top↑

Oarisma edwardsii (W. Barnes)        Edwards’ Skipperling (updated February 11, 2021)

Description. Oarisma edwardsii is much like the preceding species, but the dorsal orange wing surfaces are largely unmasked by dark overscaling and as a result the orange shows prominently. The hindwing below is matte gray-gold, aging to grizzled, and lacks white on the veins. The hindwing fringe is silver-gray rather than Garita’s white, though this difference is subtle. Range and Habitat. Edwards’ Skipperling is at home in Upper Sonoran and Transition Zone grasslands from Mexico north to central Colorado. In New Mexico it prefers high prairie arroyos and foothill canyons between 4500 and 8000′ elevation, but it has been found as high as 9200′ (all counties except Cu,DB,Le,Lu,Qu,SJ). Life History. Larval hosts are unknown in the region, but they must be grasses (Poaceae) of one kind or another. Flight. We have one generation per year in most of New Mexico. Peak flight is in July in northern New Mexico, but August in southwest New Mexico. In the Guadalupe Mountains (Ch,Ed) there are two broods: May to July and again in September. Extreme dates are May 2 and October 1. Adults seek nectar at flowers (e.g., Apocynum, Allium). Males patrol drainages, but not strongly. Comments. Oarisma edwardsii usually flies lower on the hill than does Oarisma garita, but they are sometimes found flying together in mid-elevation meadows and care must be exercised to tell one from the other.

Edwards’ Skipperling (Oarisma edwardsii) Silva Creek, Rio Mora National wildlife Refuge, Mora Co., NM; July 24, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Edwards’ Skipperling (Oarisma edwardsii) Pacheco Canyon, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe Co., NM; July 15, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).
Edwards’ Skipperling (Oarisma edwardsii) Los Alamos, Los Alamos Co., NM; July 5, 2015 (photo by Selvi Viswanathan).
Edwards’ Skipperling (Oarisma edwardsii) Pacheco Canyon, Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe Co., NM; July 15, 2017 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Oarisma aurantiaca (Hewitson)          Orange Skipperling (updated February 12, 2021)

Description. Orange Skipperling is the orangest of our tiny, orange skippers. All wing surfaces are some hue of orange, with black scaling limited to basal portions of the ventral forewing, and the ventral and dorsal hindwing. Range and Habitat. Distributed northward from Central America, Oarisma aurantiaca bumps against its northern limit in New Mexico. In our state it is resident throughout our Upper Sonoran Zone desert and foothill washes and arroyos below 6000′ elevation (counties: Be,Ca,Ch,Cu,DB,DA,Ed,Gr,Gu,Ha,Hi,Le,Li,Lu,Ot,Qu,Ro,SM,SF,Si,So,Un,Va). Life History. Bailowitz and Brock (1991) reported that larvae eat grasses (Poaceae) such as Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) and Leptochloa dubia in southeast Arizona. Muhlenbergia dumosa (bamboo muhly) also is used there (Brock 1993). Flight. Blithely unaware of their small stature, males establish and aggressively defend territories in gullies and washes. They perch alertly and dart after all intruders, often returning to the same perch. Observations in New Mexico span March 6 to November 12. A spring generation peaks in April, then overlapping broods surge in late summer. Two broods fly in northeast New Mexico. Adults seek nectar. Comments. Older guides placed this species in the genus Copaeodes. Though not yet reported from New Mexico, butterfliers should keep an eyeball peeled for the similar Oarisma minima (W. H. Edwards) along our southern border. It has a white streak on the hindwing below.

Orange Skipperling (Oarisma aurantiaca) Thompson Canyon, Big Hatchet Mountains, Hidalgo Co., NM; October 1, 2000 photo by Steve Cary).
Orange Skipperling (Oarisma aurantiaca) Organ Mountains, Dona Ana Co., NM; June 6, 2007 (photo by Steve Cary).
Orange Skipperling (Oarisma aurantiaca) Hadley Draw, Cooke’s Peak, Luna Co., NM; September 23, 1995 (photo by Steve Cary).
Orange Skipperling (Oarisma aurantiaca) Rockhound State Park, Luna Co., NM; August 8, 1984 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Calpodes ethlius (Stoll)                        Brazilian Skipper

Brazilian Skipper is noticeably large as skippers go, with an elongated forewing. Upper wing surfaces are brown with several prominent white spots. On the underside, the brown ground color is redder but with the same spot pattern. This skipper is native to coastal Mexico and South America. Its traveling habits have carried it as far north as New York. It is but a rare stray to New Mexico (counties: DA,Lu,Ot,Ro). Larvae eat Canna species (Cannaceae), none of which are native to New Mexico. Migrants occasionally produce a couple of late summer broods in southeast Arizona on ornamental Cannas, so it might be more frequent in southern New Mexico than available evidence suggests. Adults are fond of nectar. Our first specimen, taken in Portales (Ro) on 18 October 1966 by M. Franko, has been curated in Eastern New Mexico University’s excellent natural history collections.

Brazilian Skipper (Calpodes ethlius) Edisto Beach State Park, Colleton Co., SC; May 17, 2018 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Ancyloxypha numitor (Fabricius)                  Least Skipper (updated February 12, 2021)

Description. Tiny, Least Skippers are orange above with black borders. The hindwing is gold below, but the forewing underside is gray-black with an orange border. Range and Habitat. This Great Plains and eastern US butterfly barely enters New Mexico in our extreme northeast corner (county: Un) in streamside habitats including Seneca Creek below Clayton Lake. Life History. Larvae eat broadleaf grasses. Scott (1992) cited Agropyron repens, Phalaris arundinacea, Bromis inermis, and Echinochloa crusgalli. Larvae roll grass leaves for shelter. Flight. Adults fly from late June to September 4, in two overlapping broods. In their habitat they dodge methodically among dense reeds, occasionally perching and nectaring. Comments. My first experience trying to photograph Ancyloxyoha numitor below the dam at Clayton Lake State Park went like this: I waded, then waited, in mud to my knees. Flapping lazily, unconcernedly among the reeds, they flew and occasionally perched within arm’s length. Whenever I eased in for a photo, my elbow touched a grass stem, which pushed against another stem, whose shadow fell across the skipper, which flew away.

Least Skipperling (Ancyloxypha numitor) Lexington Wildlife Management Area, Cleveland Co., OK; September 27, 2005 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).
Least Skipperling (Ancyloxypha numitor) Little River National Wildlife Refuge, McCurtain Co., OK; May 26, 2014 (photo by Bryan Reynolds).
Least Skipperling (Ancyloxypha numitor) below dam at Clayton Lake State Park, Union Co., NM; August 11, 2000 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Ancyloxypha arene (W. H. Edwards)             Tropical Least-Skipper (updated March 21, 2021)

Description. Yet another tiny, orange skipper with unique patterning of orange and black scales, Ancyloxypha arene has a hindwing underside that is two-toned orange, being darker near the posterior. The hindwing above is orange with a dark costa; the forewing upperside is orange with a black border. Wing apices are more rounded compared to similar sister skippers. Range and Habitat. Tropical Least-Skippers live from Central America north to southern Arizona, south Texas and southern New Mexico (counties: Be,Ca,Ch,DA,Ed,Gr,Gu,Hi,Lu,Ot,Si,So). In our state this species prefers grassy river banks below 5600′ elevation. It occurs all along banks of the Rio Grande, and irrigation ditches, in southern New Mexico, but its habitat is fragmented in places. Life History. Larvae eat Echinochloa crusgalli, Polypogon viridis, Polypogon monspeliensis and Paspalum distichum in southeast Arizona. Flight. Adults fly weakly among riverside grasses. Records from April 22 to November 17 depict a spring flight and overlapping summer and fall broods. The weak, seemingly feeble flight of the Ancyloxypha species distinguishes them from the Oarisma species, whose flight is much brisker and more purposeful. Comments. Ancyloxypha arene was first documented in New Mexico by virtue of a specimen at the Allyn Museum of Entomology, taken near Redrock, along the Gila River (Gr), on 8 October 1937.

Tropical Least Skipper (Ancyloxypha arene) along the Rio Grande near Fairacres, Dona Ana Co., NM; July 1, 2020 (photo by James VonLoh).
Tropical Least Skipper (Ancyloxypha arene) along the Rio Grande near Fairacares, Dona Ana Co., NM; July 1, 2020 (photo by James VonLoh).
Tropical Least Skipper (Ancyloxypha arene) Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro Co., NM; September 24, 2007 (photo by Steve Cary).
Tropical Least Skipper (Ancyloxypha arene) Leasburg Dam State Park, Dona Ana Co., NM; September 22, 2016 (photo by Steve Cary).

Top↑

Adopaeoides prittwitzi (Plötz)                     Sunrise Skipper (updated March 11, 2021)

Description. Sunrise Skipper is the rarest of our tiny orange skippers, at least in New Mexico. It is distinguished by black scaling along the upperside forewing veins from the margin inward. It also has a pale band running from base to margin of the hindwing below. Range and Habitat. Adopaeoides prittwitzi is distributed from central Mexico northward, barely entering the US in southeast Arizona, west Texas, and southwest New Mexico. New Mexico colonies occur only along the lower reaches of Cloverdale Creek and Clanton Draw in the Animas Valley (county: Hi). Look for it in adjacent slack-water streamside habitats below 5200′ elevation. Life History. Paspalum disticum (Poaceae) is reported as a larval host in southeast Arizona (Bailowitz and Brock 1991). Flight. Adults patrol weakly over host stands and rarely wander from marshy habitats. There appear to be two annual flights: spring brood records span May 20 to June 22; our sole autumn brood record is September 24. Comments. This skipper was first here by legendary prolific southwestern lepidopterist Kilian Roever on 22 June 1991.

Sunrise Skipper (Adopaeodes prittwitzi) Santa Cruz River, San Rafael Valley, Santa Cruz Co., AZ; June 1, 2011 (photo by Matt Brown).
Sunrise Skipper (Adopaeodes prittwitzi) near Parker Canyon Lake, Cochise Co., AZ; October 3, 2012 (photo by Matt Brown).
Sunrise Skipper (Adopaeodes prittwitzi) near Parker Canyon Lake, Cochise Co., AZ; October 3, 2012 (photo by Matt Brown).

Top↑