Small Checkered Skipper - Pyrgus scriptura
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Layberry et al. 1998; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001] Forewing 0.9-1.3 cm. Very small, white fringe incompletely checkered (black checks on edge of hindwing not reaching outer edge). Uppersurface dark gray with small white spots (spots usually reduced on hindwing), male lacking costal fold, forewing costal margin usually with pale gray area, usually with prominant square white spot in hindwing center but lacking white hindwing basal spot. Undersurface ground color pale and soft, hindwing marginal spots eveny colored, yellowish-tan outwardly.
One flight, July to mid-August in Montana and North Dakota; three flights, May to September in Colorado; many flights, March to November in lowland California (Scott 1986). July through August in one-brood areas, March to October in three-brood areas (Glassberg 2001). March to early October in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981). Late April to mid-September in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), mid-July through mid-August in North Dakota (McCabe and Post 1976), late March to mid-November in southern Nevada (Austin and Austin 1980).
Best determined by a combination of very small size, white fringe incompletely checkered, uppersurface dark gray with small white spots (spots usually reduced on hindwing), usually with prominant square white spot in hindwing center but lacking white hindwing basal spot, undersurface with hindwing marginal spots eveny colored, yellowish-tan outwardly.
Northern California, central Nevada, southeastern Alberta, southwestern Saskatchewan, western North Dakota, south to central Mexico and western Texas (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); usually below 2560 m elevation in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), 1436 m to 2560 m elevation in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), 1372 m to 3353 m elevation in southern Nevada (Austin and Austin 1980). In Montana, reported from at least 12 counties in the southwestern 1/6 of the state (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database), to 1890 m elevation. Locally rare to uncommon (Glassberg 2001).
Non-migratory, but sometimes wanders (Ferris and Brown 1981).
Open bare areas, alkali flats, desert washes, roadsides, along railroad tracks, short-grass prairie, disturbed fields, vacant lots, open woodlands, urban lawns and gardens (Scott and Scott 1978; Austin and Austin 1980; Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Shapiro 1991; Layberry et al. 1998; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001). Habitat in Montana not described but probably similar.
Limited information. Larval food plants are members of the Malvaceae, including Malvella (=Sida) and Sphaeralcea (multiple species) (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986, 1992; Shapiro 1991, 2009; Layberry et al. 1998). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Baileya, Eriodictyon, Heliotropium, Heterotheca, Oxytropis, Phacelia, Taraxacum, Tetradymia, Verbena), dung, and mud (Austin and Austin 1980; Scott 2014).
Limited information. Females lay eggs singly on the undersides of host plant leaves, especially mature leaves (Scott 1986; Shapiro 1991). Males patrol throughout the day low to the ground (usually < 10 cm), sometimes perch on the ground or low vegetation, in prairie swales and gullies awaiting or searching for passing females (Scott 1975, 1986; Shapiro 1991).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Emmel, T.C. and J.F. Emmel. 1962. Ecological studies of Rhopalocera in a High Sierran Community-Donner Pass, California. I. Butterfly associations and distributional factors. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 16:23-44.
- Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown (eds). 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountains. Univ. of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 442 pp.
- Glassberg, J. 2001. Butterflies through Binoculars: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America. Oxford University Press.
- Guppy, C.S. and J.H. Shepard. 2001. Butterflies of British Columbia: including western Alberta, southern Yukon, the Alaska Panhandle, Washington, northern Oregon, northern Idaho, northwestern Montana. UBC Press (Vancouver, BC) and Royal British Columbia Museum (Victoria, BC). 414 pp.
- Kohler, S. 1980. Checklist of Montana Butterflies (Rhopalocera). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 34(1): 1-19.
- Layberry, R.A., P.W. Hall, and J.D. LaFontaine. 1998. The Butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press. 280 pp. + color plates.
- Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies. Second edition. Peterson Field Guides. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 540 pp.
- Pyle, R.M. 2002. The butterflies of Cascadia: a field guide to all the species of Washington, Oregon, and surrounding territories. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington. 420 pp.
- Scott, J.A. 1975b. Mate-locating behavior of western North American butterflies. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 14:1-40.
- Scott, J.A. 1986. The butterflies of North America: a natural history and field guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
- Scott, J.A. 2006. Butterfly hostplant records, 1992-2005, with a treatise on the evolution of Erynnis, and a note on new terminology for mate-locating behavior. Papilio new series #14. 74 p.
- Scott, J.A. 2014. Lepidoptera of North America 13. Flower visitation by Colorado butterflies (40,615 records) with a review of the literature on pollination of Colorado plants and butterfly attraction (Lepidoptera: Hersperioidea and Papilionoidea). Contributions of the C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthopod Diversity. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University. 190 p.
- Shapiro, A.M. 1977. The alpine butterflies of Castle Peak, Nevada County, California. Great Basin Naturalist 37(4): 443-452.
- Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies: including adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Unpubl. Report. Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado 275 pp.
- Threatful, D.L. 1988. A list of the butterflies and skippers of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks, British Columbia, Canada (Lepidoptera). Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 27(3-4): 213-221.
- Warren, A.D. 2005. Lepidoptera of North America 6: Butterflies of Oregon, their taxonomy, distribution, and biology. Contributions of the C. P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Colorado State University. Fort Collins, Colorado. 406 pp.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Allen, T.J., J.P. Brock, and J. Glassberg. 2005. Caterpillars in the field and garden: a field guide to the butterfly caterpillars of North America. Oxford University Press.
- Brock, J.P. and K. Kaufman. 2003. Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY 284 pp.
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