Arctic Skipper - Carterocephalus palaemon
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.3-1.4 cm. Uppersurface dark brown with checkered pattern of golden spots; undersurface of hindwing tan with yellow to silvery spots outlined in black. (Marked like a miniature fritillary.)
One flight, mostly late May through June (June to mid-July in the north) (Scott 1986). Mid-April to early August (Glassberg 2001). Late June to early August in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), mid-April to early August in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002), mid-April to late July in Oregon (Warren 2005), early May to early August in British Columbia (Threatful 1988; Guppy and Shepard 2001).
Distinctive; determined by combination of the uppersurface pattern and the undersurface of hindwing tan with yellow to silvery spots outlined in black.
Holarctic. In North America, from central Alaska east throughout boreal Canada to the Maritime Provinces, south in the Pacific states to northern California, in the Rocky Mountain states to southwestern Wyoming, in the Great Plains to northern North Dakota, in the Great Lakes region to southern Wisconsin and central Michigan (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); near sea level to about 2134 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005), 457 m to 1219 m elevation in southeastern British Columbia (Threatful 1988). In Montana, reported from at least 20 counties in the western 1/2 of the state (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database), to at least 1981 m elevation. Locally rare to uncommon (Glassberg 2001).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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Non-migratory. In Europe, rarely fly as much as 3 km (Scott 1986).
Boreal woodland openings, grassy breaks, montane meadows, grassy bogs near forest edges, streambanks, wet valley bottoms (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Threatful 1988; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002). Habitat in Montana not described but probably similar.
Larval food plants are grasses, including Brachypodium, Bromus, Calamagrostis, Molinia (Scott 1986; Ravenscroft 1994; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Warren 2005; James and Nunnallee 2011), probably other species (including Phalaris?), which remain largely unknown in North America. Adults feed on flower nectar (including Calyptridium, Geranium, Geum, Iris, Polymonium) and mud (Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002; Scott 2014).
Females lay eggs singly on host grasses; adults may live up to 21 days. Eggs hatch in about 7-13 days, develop from L1 instar to L5 instar in about 44 days (depending on temperature), remain active as L5 instar for about another 21 days before entering diapause (hibernation). After exiting diapause in spring, L5 instars pupate in about 5 days, adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in about 12 days. Larvae feed on host grass leaves, live in nests of leaves silked together, overwinter as L5 instars in silk-tied leaf nests, pupae attached to grass stem or blade (Scott 1979, 1986; Guppy and Shepard 2001; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males perch and sometimes patrol throughout the day < 1 m above ground in sedge swales and wet valleys searching for females (Scott 1975b, 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- 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.
- James, D.G. and D. Nunnallee. 2011. Life histories of Cascadia butterflies. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press. 447 p.
- Kohler, S. 1980. Checklist of Montana Butterflies (Rhopalocera). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 34(1): 1-19.
- 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.
- Ravenscroft, N.O.M. 1994. The ecology of the chequered skipper butterfly Carterocephalus palaemon in Scotland. II. Foodplant quality and population range. Journal of Applied Ecology 31:623-630.
- Scott, J.A. 1975b. Mate-locating behavior of western North American butterflies. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 14:1-40.
- Scott, J.A. 1979. Hibernal diapause of North American Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 18(3): 171-200.
- Scott, J.A. 1986. The butterflies of North America: a natural history and field guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
- 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.
- 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.
- Additional Sources of Information Related to "Insects"