by Steven J. Cary and Michael E. Toliver
Skippers (Hesperiidae). About a third of our butterfly fauna, more than 100 species, belongs to this family, which is subdivided into six subfamilies in the US: Eudaminae, Tagiadinae, Pyrrhopyginae, Pyrginae, Heteropterinae, and Hesperiinae. Of those six subfamilies, five are known from New Mexico and the sixth (Tagiadinae, represented by Celaenorrhinus fritzgaertneri) has been taken on the Arizona side of Cottonwood Canyon, Peloncillo Mountains. Therefore, it is likely that eventually all six will be known from our state. The tribe Megathymini has been considered a seventh subfamily, but recent genetic work (Li, et al, 2019) shows it belongs in the Hesperiinae. 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 overwinter. Most subfamilies have distinct larval food preferences. Updated November 30, 2022
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.
- Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris)
- Simius Roadside-Skipper (Notamblyscirtes simius)
- Durango Roadside-Skipper (Notambyscirtes durango)
- Delaware Skipper (Anatrytone logan)
- Common Mellana (Quasimellana eulogius)
- Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)
- Crossline Skipper (Limochores origenes)
- Tawny-Edged Skipper (Polites themistocles)
- Sandhill Skipper (Polites sabuleti)
- Draco Skipper (Polites draco)
- Rhesus Skipper (Yvretta rhesus)
- Carus Skipper (Yvretta carus)
- Sachem (Atalopedes huron)
- Western Branded-Skipper (Hesperia colorado)
- Juba Skipper (Hesperia juba)
- Nevada Skipper (Hesperia nevada)
- Apache Skipper (Hesperia woodgatei)
- Uncas Skipper (Hesperia uncas)
- Pahaska Skipper (Hesperia pahaska)
- Green Skipper (Hesperia viridis)
- Woodland Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides)
- Yuma Skipper (Ochlodes yuma)
- Morrison’s Skipper (Stinga morrisoni)
- Hobomok Skipper (Lon hobomok)
- Taxiles Skipper (Lon taxiles)
- Umber Skipper (Lon melane)
- Snow’s Skipper (Paratrytone snowi)
- Dusted Skipper (Atrytonopsis hianna)
- Deva Skipper (Atrytonopsis deva)
- Moon-Marked Skipper (Atrytonopsis lunus)
- Viereck’s Skipper (Atrytonopsis vierecki)
- White-Barred Skipper (Atrytonopsis pittacus)
- Margarita Skipper (Atrytonopsis margarita)
- Python Skipper (Atrytonopsis python)
- Sheep Skipper (Atrytonopsis edwardsi)
- Nysa Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes nysa)
- Common Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes vialis)
- Bronze Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes aenus)
- Cassus Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes cassus)
- Texas Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes texanae)
- Slaty Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes nereus)
- Dotted Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes eos)
- Oslar’s Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes oslari)
- Large Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes exoteria)
- Orange-Headed Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes phylace)
- Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala)
- Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
- Garita Skipperling (Oarisma garita)
- Edwards’ Skipperling (Oarisma edwardsii)
- Orange Skipperling (Oarisma aurantiaca)
- Brazilian Skipper (Calpodes ethlius)
- Least Skipperling (Ancyloxypha numitor)
- Tropical Least Skipperling (Ancyloxypha arene)
- Sunrise Skipper (Adopaeoides prittwitzi)
- Faded Faceted-Skipper (Synapte shiva)
Euphyes vestris (Boisduval 1852) Dun Skipper (updated January 30, 2022)
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 and it is reasonable to extrapolate that preference to New Mexico. Half-grown larvae hibernate over winter. Flight. Our records indicate one extended generation per year. Extreme dates are May 15 and August 30 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 vestris kiowah (Reakirt 1866). Form immaculatus (R. Williams 1914), now synonymized, was described from specimens collected by John Woodgate in the Jemez Mountains.
Notamblyscirtes simius (W. H. Edwards 1881) Simius Roadside-Skipper (updated January 22, 2023)
Description. Simius Roadside-Skipper has spot patterns typical of the genus Amblyscirtes, with an added pale spot in the dorsal forewing cell. Above, the ground color can be either rusty dark orange (form rufa) or mostly black (form nigra). Beneath, it has a pale gray hindwing and pale tawny forewing. Hindwing fringes are unchecked white. The similar Durango Roadside-Skipper is much darker ventrally (Gr, Hi). 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,Gu,Ha,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 widespread shortgrass prairie 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, suggesting the possibility of two flights in wet years. 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.
Notamblyscirtes durango J. A. Scott 2017 Durango Roadside-Skipper (added January 22, 2023)
Description. Durango Roadside-Skipper has spot patterns typical of the genus Amblyscirtes, with an added pale spot in the dorsal forewing cell. It resembles Simius Roadside-Skipper (it was originally described as a subspecies of Simius), but is much darker. Beneath, it has a brownish hindwing and forewing, though the forewing has some tawny coloration near the lower margin. Hindwing fringes are unchecked white. Range and Habitat. Durango is found primarily in Mexico, but its range extends north into Arizona and New Mexico. In New Mexico, it is found in our SW counties (Gr,Hi). Life History. Bouteloua gracilis (Poaceae) is believed to be the host plant for Durango, as it is for Simius. First stage larvae hibernate. Flight. Notamblyscirtes durango is univoltine, but flight time may vary to coincide with and capitalize on the local rainy season. It flies in July – August. Both sexes come to nectar. Comments. Recently separated as a full species from Simius by Zhang, et. al. (2022), it certainly has a distinct appearance.
Anatrytone logan (W. H. Edwards 1863) Delaware Skipper (updated January 8, 2023)
Description. Delaware Skipper is distinctive because of its medium size (for a skipper), habitat (eastern plains near watercourses) and its immaculate, soft gold underside. The only other NM species that approaches Delaware in appearance is the very rare Common Melana, known only from a single specimen captured in Doña Ana County. Delaware can be separated from male Common Melana by the lack of a dark streak on the FW above the lower margin. Also note Delaware’s 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 1881). Our oldest report of Delaware Skipper was 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.
Quasimellana eulogius (Plötz 1882) Common Mellana (updated January 31, 2022)
Description. This skipper resembles a number of other folded-wings skippers, which complicates our understanding of its true status north of the border. In NM, it is distinguished from most similarly sized (a little over 1 inch wingspan) folded-wing skippers by its relatively plain orange-gold ventral HW, with a faint row of median spots. The upperside of the male resembles the female Delaware skipper, but male Common Mellana have a dark streak on the FW above the lower margin that extends from the base to the margin. Females are much darker dorsally, somewhat resembling female Sachem. Range and Habitat. Common Mellana is not common north of the border! It does occur regularly in S TX, but otherwise is extremely rare elsewhere in the US. Its normal range is Mexico south to Brazil. Life History. This species has been reared from eggs in south TX. Flight. In south TX, the species is recorded from most months of the year. Our single record is from August. Comments. On August 8, 2005, Paul Opler collected this small, orange skipper as it visited Wright’s Buckwheat (Eriogonum wrightii) on San Augustin Pass northeast of Las Cruces, in Dona Ana County. Dr. Opler’s opportune capture is our sole report of Common Mellana from New Mexico. Considering the array of small, orange, folded-wing skippers, Mellana 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.
Hylephila phyleus (Drury 1773) Fiery Skipper (updated January 14, 2023)
Description. Fiery Skippers resemble Sachem and some Polites species. Males are gold above with a bold, black stigma and distinctive, jagged black borders. Below, males are two-toned gold with a unique pattern of black dots. Females have a ventral hindwing pale post-median band that is bordered outwardly with a more prominent repeat of the black dots found on the male. 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,Ch,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 in Albuquerque by the young Mike Toliver. Mike says: it was common then, indicating it had already been present for some time previously. It was first noted in Las Cruces in 1961. It probably came in with introduced lawn grasses.
Limochores mystic dacotah (W. H. Edwards 1871) Long Dash (added January 17, 2023)
Description. This species gets its common name from the distinctive male stigma, which is long and connected to an elongated spot at the end of the FW cell – creating a “long dash.” The female is largely brown above, with patches of ochre spots. Beneath, both sexes are mostly brownish yellow, with a pale postmedian curved band of light, yellow spots on the HW, varying in intensity. Range and Habitat. Long Dash is largely northern in distribution, found from British Columbia and Washington east to Nova Scotia and the mountains of the NE US. It follows mountain uplands at higher altitudes, ranging south to Virginia in the eastern US and to S CO and N AZ in the west. Life History. Females oviposit on various grasses, including Poa species. Flight. If and when it is found/confirmed in our state, it probably will be found to have one annual brood, with peak flight occurring in June and July. Comments. Evans (1955) reported this species from New Mexico on the basis of three specimens in the Natural History Museum (London?). It has not been otherwise reported from the state, but its distribution (several reports from north-central Arizona, and several from southwest Colorado) favor its eventual confirmation from New Mexico when the mountains in Rio Arriba and San Juan counties are more thoroughly explored.
Limochores origenes (Fabricius 1793) Crossline Skipper (updated January 17, 2023)
Description. Crossline Skipper is decidedly less widespread, larger and more brightly marked than the similar Tawny-Edged Skipper. Separate it from Tawny-Edged by a narrower stigma on male DFW, as well as less contrast between VHW and leading edge of VFW. VHW often has a more obvious spot band. Postmedian white spots decorate all wing surfaces, but hindwing spots may be faint. Females have very 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,Li?,SM,Un), where it has become rather scarce of late. 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 18878). Crossline Skipper resided in the genus Polites for many years. Zhang et al. (2021) moved it to Limochores based on DNA studies, but other experts dispute the wisdom of this shift. We follow Zhang et al. here, while acknowledging the ongoing conversation.
Polites themistocles (Latreille ) Tawny-Edged Skipper (updated January 15, 2023)
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, which gives this species its common name; 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 Polites origenes. There are a number of high mountain ranges (e.g., the Sandias and Manzanos) which curiously lack records of this otherwise-widespread, mountain-meadow species.
Polites sabuleti (Boisduval 1852) Sandhill Skipper (updated January 17, 2023)
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,SM?,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 may belong to a couple different subspecies. Polites sabuleti alkaliensis Austin, 1987, was described from Nevada, but is listed on the Butterflies of America web site (https://www.butterfliesofamerica.com/US-Can-Cat.htm) as ranging from SE WA to NW NM. It may be the subspecies present in San Juan County. Polites sabuleti ministigma J. Scott, 1981, was described from south central CO (the San Luis Valley) and is likely the subspecies found in north-central NM (Co?, RA, SM?, SF, Sv and Ta).
Polites draco (W. H. Edwards 1871) Draco Skipper (updated January 19, 2023)
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. Unlike on P. sabuleti, pale marks on the draco VHW are blocky and rounded. Range and Habitat. This montane species occurs throughout the Rocky Mountains. In New Mexico it is widespread in high-elevation 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. Draco has not been seen there in recent years. 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.
Polites rhesus (W. H. Edwards 1878) Rhesus Skipper (January 21, 2023)
Description. Distinguish diminutive Rhesus Skipper by its white-scaled veins overlying a chocolate brown, gold-margined, hindwing below, resembling Uncas Skipper. 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 Polites 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 hoping 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.
Polites carus (W. H. Edwards 1883) Carus Skipper (updated January 22, 2023)
Description. Carus Skipper can be confused with Rhesus, but it is somewhat smaller and wing fringes are gray. Like Rhesus, it is gray/black above with white spots, while the similar Uncas Skipper has orange highlights above. The ventral hindwing network of white-scaled veins is denser than on Rhesus and it is set against a predominantly gold/tan background with fewer (if any) “Uncas-like” or “Rhesus-like” dark patches. Range and Habitat. The range of this Central American and Mexican species extends north into southern California, southern Arizona, west Texas and southern New Mexico (counties: Be,Ca,DA,Co,Ed,Gr,Ha,Hi,Li?,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 and probably in southern New Mexico as well. Jim says follow-up work has been difficult because larvae are subterranean! Flight. Polites 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 most 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. We follow some experts and place Rhesus and Carus are placed within the subgenus Yvretta, but some authorities elevate Yvretta to full genus.
Atalopedes huron (W. H. Edwards 1863) Eastern Sachem (updated January 25, 2023)
Description. Misidentifications are common for this sexually dimorphic species. Eastern 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 and the postmedian spot band on the ventral hindwing is usually less prominent. Range and Habitat. Atalopedes huron 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,Va). Life History. Larvae eat grasses (Poaceae) such as Distichlis species, Cynodon dactylon, Festuca rubra, Stenotaphrum secundatum, Digitaria sanguinalis, Eleusine indica and Poa pratensis. Eastern Sachem breeds at least seasonally in our southern and eastern counties, occurring farther north only as a stray. Flight. Eastern Sachem is bivoltine in New Mexico. Extreme dates are April 22 and November 28, peaking in June to July and again in September. It is most common in late summer, though rarely seen in large numbers. Adults are often found at nectar. Comments. Atalopedes huron, previously considered a subspecies of Atalopedes campestris, was raised to species status by Zhang, et. al. (2022). Eastern Sachem is best distinguished from Sachem (restricted to the far West from Baja California to western Idaho) by locality. 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.
Hesperia colorado (Scudder 1874) Western Branded-Skipper (updated February 1, 2023)
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 1758), in which much research is still needed. Tentatively, we think North-central New Mexico (counties: Co,LA,Mo,RA,Sv,SM,Ta,Un) harbors H. colorado idaho (W. H. Edwards 1883). Western New Mexico (counties: Ca,Ci,Gr,MK,SJ) adults have smaller ventral white marks and are subspecies Hesperia colorado susanae L. Miller 1962.
Hesperia juba (Scudder 1874) Juba Skipper (January May 31, 2023)
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 green and the last white 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.
Hesperia nevada (Scudder 1874) Nevada Skipper (updated January 31, 2023)
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. In New Mexico, no other Hesperia sp. flies at higher elevations. Western Branded-Skipper comes close (and does fly above timberline in central Colorado), but Nevada flies well before Western Branded. 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. The nominate race flies in New Mexico
Hesperia woodgatei (R. Williams 1914) Apache Skipper (updated January 31, 2023)
Description. Apache Skipper has a ventral hindwing that is dark green-brown with widely spaced smallish white spots. It is larger than most congeners. Distinctively, antennae are very long with white at the base of the club and with a rather 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: Be,Ca,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 progressively 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 (possibly Jemez Springs), 10-21 September 1913. Individuals from SE NM (Ed) may represent an undescribed subspecies.
Hesperia uncas W. H. Edwards 1863 Uncas Skipper (updated February 5, 2023)
Description. Within the genus Hesperia, distinguish Uncas Skipper by the white scales coating the hindwing veins below, creating a white spiderweb against a pale green and dark chocolate brown background. Uncas 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. Eastern and northern New Mexico support the nominate subspecies. Specimens from western and central New Mexico (Ca,Ci,Gr,MK,SJ) have been putatively determined to be subspecies Hesperia uncas lasus (W. H. Edwards 1884), which is more yellow than green ventrally and more orange than gray dorsally. Both lasus and uncas have been recorded from central NM (Be,Sv,So,To,Va).
Hesperia pahaska Leussler 1938 Pahaska Skipper (updated December 21, 2021)
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. Most of our populations belong to the nominate subspecies. Intergrades with subspecies Hesperia pahaska williamsi Lindsey 1940 (smaller ventral hindwing white spots separated by dark scales) have been observed in southwestern New Mexico (DA,Gr,Hi). The Capitan Mountains (Li) occasionally produce individuals with an immaculate hindwing below.
Hesperia viridis (W. H. Edwards 1883) Green Skipper (updated October 12, 2021)
Description. Green Skipper is a virtual 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.
Ochlodes sylvanoides (Boisduval 1852) Woodland Skipper (updated July 27, 2022)
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 1865), whose ventral hindwing marks have less contrast compared to the nominate subspecies.
Ochlodes yuma (W. H. Edwards 1873) 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 compared to the nominate form is darker above and dusty ochre below with pale postmedian spots.
Stinga morrisoni (W. H. Edwards 1878) Morrison’s Skipper (updated February 7, 2021)
Description. With respect to size, shape and general appearance, Morrison’s Skipper resembles 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.
Lon hobomok (T. Harris 1862) 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 J Scott 1981, 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).
Lon taxiles (W. H. Edwards 1881) Taxiles Skipper (updated July 13, 2022)
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 & LeConte ) were conspecific. Three specimens of Lon zabulon collected by F. H. Snow are attributed to New Mexico c. 1884, when he rode the train from Kansas to Silver City, NM. 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.
Lon melane (W. H. Edwards 1869) Umber Skipper (updated January 25, 2023)
Description. Its elongated forewings make Umber Skipper our largest and darkest 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. Range and Habitat. 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. Life History. Larval hosts for this skipper include grasses (Poaceae) and a sedge (Cyperaceae) (Scott 1986). Flight. 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. Comments. 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.
Paratrytone snowi (W. H. Edwards 1877) 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,RA,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.
Atrytonopsis hianna (Scudder 1868) 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 1848. This Great Plains butterfly has its southwestern-most outpost on Burnt Mesa in Bandelier National Monument (LA,Sv).
Atrytonopsis deva (W. H. Edwards 1877) 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.
Atrytonopsis lunus (W. H. Edwards 1884) Moon-Marked Skipper (updated October 12, 2021)
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.
Atrytonopsis vierecki (Skinner 1902) Viereck’s Skipper (updated January 8, 2023)
Description. Viereck’s Skipper comes with the standard Atrytonopsis package, but with a forewing that is relatively narrow and elongate compared to sister species. The forewing has large translucent white spots, including an hourglass-shaped spot in the cell, which the otherwise similar Deva lacks. The hoary hindwing below has median bands of variably-expressed dark smudges, sometimes accentuated with white dots. The dorsal hindwing is unremarkable 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 Le,Ro,Ta). Its altitudinal range here is mostly 4500 to 7400′, but it has been found as high as 9200′. Life History. Fisher (2017: 176) related James Scott’s 1993 observation that female Viereck’s placed eggs on side-oats grama grass (Bouteloua curtipendula; Poaceae) in the Colorado Front Range. South of Santa Fe in Cerrillos Hills State Park in June 2022, a female placed an egg on Sporobolus contractus, but larval feeding was observed only on adjacent bunches of side-oats grama. Flight. Atrytonopsis vierecki is univoltine with adults about in May and June; 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, especially thistles. Comments. This species was described from specimens taken by Henry L. Viereck in Dry Canyon, near Alamogordo (Ot), 8 to 13 May 1902. Distinguishing Viereck’s from the similar Deva requires a good view of the upperside.
Atrytonopsis pittacus (W. H. Edwards 1882) 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.
Atrytonopsis margarita (Skinner 1913) Margarita Skipper (under review as of December 29, 2022)
Description. Margarita Skipper is brightly marked for an Atrytonopsis. The ventral hindwing sports two arcs of whitish spots against a tan background that, on fresh specimens, can be brightly overscaled with light blue. Dorsally, blocky translucent spots in median and post-median areas of the forewing read as white, compared to amber/yellow/gold in the similar Python Skipper. Compared to that of White-Barred Skipper, the dorsal hindwing pale spot band is bent and may be weakly expressed. Wing fringes are checkered. Range and Habitat. Largely a New Mexico insect, Margarita lives in Upper Sonoran and Transition Zones from north-central New Mexico south into west Texas. Look for it from 5500 to 8500′ elevation in mountain foothills and canyon-mesa country. Its detailed distribution is under review due to confusion with the very similar Python Skipper (counties: Be,Ca,Ch,Ci,DA,Ed,Gu?,Li,LA,MK,Ot,RA,Sv,SF,Si,So,To). Life History. Larval hosts are unidentified grasses (Poaceae). Flight. Adults fly here between May 22 and July 5, mostly in June. Records as late as August 13 suggest an occasional partial second flight, perhaps triggered by generous summer rains. Males patrol canyons and arroyos; both sexes come greedily to nectar. Hilltopping is noted occasionally. Comments. Margarita and Python have a taxonomic history befitting their phenotypic similarity. 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 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.
Atrytonopsis python (W. H. Edwards 1882) Python Skipper (updated December 21, 2022)
Description. Python Skipper is brightly marked for an Atrytonopsis. Blocky translucent median spots on the forewing topside are distinctively tinged with yellow, especially around the edges. The ventral hindwing is heavily patterned with two arcs of white spots against a tan background that, on fresh specimens, can be overscaled with blue. Are VHW pale spots also yellow-tinged? Compared to that of White-Barred Skipper, the dorsal hindwing pale spot band is bent and may be weakly expressed. Wing fringes are checkered. Range and Habitat. Python inhabits Upper Sonoran and Transition Zones from north-central New Mexico south into west Texas, Mexico and especially Arizona. In our state look for it from 5500 to 8000′ elevation in mountain foothills and canyon-mesa country. Its detailed distribution is under major review due to ongoing confusion with the very similar Margarita Skipper (counties: Ca,Ci,Gr,Hi,Li,LA,Lu,MK,Ot,RA,SJ,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 13 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.
Atrytonopsis edwardsi W. Barnes & McDunnough 1916 Sheep Skipper (updated April 18, 2022)
Description. Sheep Skipper resembles Python 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 edwardsii 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.
Amblyscirtes nysa W. H. Edwards 1877 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.
Amblyscirtes vialis (W. H. Edwards 1862) Common Roadside-Skipper (updated May 8, 2022)
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 7 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.
Amblyscirtes aenus W. H. Edwards 1878 Bronze Roadside-Skipper (updated July 6, 2022)
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,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. We have te nominate subspecies. Old reports of Amblyscirtes erna H. A. Freeman 1943 from eastern New Mexico are probably this species. Scott (1986) treated A. erna as a subspecies of A. aenus.
Amblyscirtes cassus W. H. Edwards 1883 Cassus Roadside-Skipper (updated October 28, 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 and savannas 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 20 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.
Amblyscirtes texanae E. Bell 1927 Texas Roadside-Skipper (updated August 20, 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 gully-bottom territories and defend them from prominent rocks. Adults like nectar and moist soil. Hot afternoons may be spent perched head-upward on shaded, vertical 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.
Amblyscirtes nereus (W. H. Edwards 1876) 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.
Amblyscirtes eos (W. H. Edwards 1871) 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.
Amblyscirtes oslari (Skinner 1899) 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,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.
Amblyscirtes exoteria (Herrich-Schäffer 1869) Large Roadside-Skipper (updated October 27, 2021)
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.
Amblyscirtes phylace (W. H. Edwards 1878) 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 side-oats grama (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 1882). 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.
Lerodea eufala (W. H. Edwards 1869) Eufala Skipper (updated September 20, 2022)
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,Lu,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 Zea mays (corn), Sorghum species and Saccharum species (sugar cane). Flight. New Mexico has several scattered historical records of Eufala, typically from July 19 to December 4, during and after the summer monsoon. In recent years, however, this bland skipper has become almost regular in the Las Cruces area.
Lerema accius (J. E. Smith 1797) Clouded Skipper (updated December 17, 2022)
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.
Oarisma garita (Reakirt 1866) Garita Skipperling (updated October 27, 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 primary annual flight spans May 15 to August 26, peaking in July. A second flight (September – October 8) sometimes occurs in the Gila following a proper monsoon. 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).
Copaeodes edwardsii (W. Barnes 1897) Edwards’ Skipperling (updated October 27, 2021)
Description. Copaeodes 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 Mogollon and Guadalupe Mountains (Ca,Ch,Ed) there are two broods: May to July and again in September-October. Extreme dates are May 2 and October 8. Adults seek nectar at flowers (e.g., Apocynum, Allium). Males patrol drainages, but not strongly, and will come to moist soil. Comments. Copaeodes edwardsii usually flies lower on the mountain 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.
Copaeodes aurantiaca (Hewitson 1868) Orange Skipperling (updated November 25, 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, Copaeodes 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,MK,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 23. A spring generation peaks in April, then overlapping broods surge in late summer. Two broods fly in northeast New Mexico. Adults seek nectar. Comments. Though not yet reported from New Mexico, butterfliers should keep an eyeball peeled for the similar Copaeodes minima (W. H. Edwards 1870) along our southern border. It has a white streak on the hindwing below.
Calpodes ethlius (Stoll 1782) Brazilian Skipper (updated October 12, 2021)
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.
Ancyloxypha numitor (Fabricius 1793) 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.
Ancyloxypha arene (W. H. Edwards 1871) Tropical Least-Skipper (updated September 22, 2022)
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,Sv,Si,So,Va). 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 March 27 to December 5 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.
Adopaeoides prittwitzi (Plötz 1884) 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 seen in New Mexico by legendary prolific southwestern lepidopterist Kilian Roever on 22 June 1991.
Synapte shiva Evans 1955 Faded Faceted-Skipper (updated January 23, 2023)
Description. The Faded Faceted-Skipper is distinctive, as US skippers go, though south of the border this would not be the case. Our species has a dark brown upper surface with a prominent postmedian row of orange-yellow spots. There is a rounded spot at the apical end of the FW cell, and an orange dash at the upper margin of the cell. Females are somewhat lighter in appearance dorsally. Beneath, the hindwing is distinctively marked with a golden-brown ground color and darker brown striations with a darker brown triangle midway on the costal margin. The ventral forewing is a paler reflection of the FW dorsal surface. Range and Habitat. This tropical species typically ranges from western Mexico to Nicaragua. It rarely strays north into SE AZ and SW NM (county: Hi). In its normal habitat, it prefers forest edges and light gaps in the forest. It comes to nectar and moisture. Life History. Bailowitz and Brock (2022: 278) indicated hosts are grasses in the genera Urochloa, Lasiacus, Setaria, and Couinia. THere is no evidence of reproduction in NM. Flight. There is one May record from AZ; otherwise, all known observations span August – November. Comments. Our sole record is a specimen captured by Kilian Roever on 23 October 2006. The specimen was caught c. 32 miles south of Animas in Hidalgo County. Previously considered a subspecies of Synapte syraces (Godman 1901), it has been recognized as a distinct species by Warren (1998, 2000). There has been some question whether SE AZ (and presumably SW NM) individuals are syraces (Godman) or shiva Evans (per Bailowitz & Brock 2022); currently shiva seems the most likely candidate.