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Montana Field Guides

Pahaska Skipper - Hesperia pahaska


Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Layberry et al. 1998; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001] Forewing 1.5-1.6 cm. Uppersurface yellow-orange with broad dark-gray borders, male forewing stigma black with yellow interior felt; undersurface of hindwing orange-brown with white bar at base of discal cell, white postmedian spots (6) usually in a complete chevron, posterior arm of 4 spots straight and more or less parallel to wing margin.

Phenology
One flight, mostly mid-June to early July in the north (late June through July at high elevation); several flights in the south, mid-April to mid-October (Scott 1986). May through July in one brood areas, Aril to October in two brood areas (Glassberg 2001), June to early July in Canada (Layberry et al. 1998), late May through July in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), early June to mid-August in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), April to November in Arizona (Bailowitz 1988), late June to late August in western Nebraska (Johnson and Nixon 1967), early June to late July in North Dakota (McCabe and Post 1976).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by a combination of uppersurface with dark gray rather than blackish border, male forewing stigma black with yellow interior felt, undersurface of hindwing with white bar at base of discal cell, white postmedian spots (6) usually in a complete chevron, posterior arm of 4 spots straight and more or less parallel to wing margin.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Range Comments
Central Montana, southern Saskatchewan, southwestern Manitoba south to western Texas and central Mexico, west to southeastern California (Scott 1986; Layberry et al. 1998; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); 1350 m to 2950 m elevation in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), 1709 m to 2926 m elevation (usually < 2743 m) in Colorado (Brown 1957; Scott and Scott 1978). In Montana, reported from at least 24 counties across the eastern 2/3 of the state, as far west as Glacier County in the north, Silver Bow County in the south (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopteristis' Society database), to at least 1830 m elevation. Mainly uncommon to common (Glassberg 2001).

Migration
Non-migratory. Typically move about 200 m as adult, perhaps as much as 1000 m (Scott 1973, 1975c, 1986; Bock et al. 2007).

Habitat
Foothill prairie, desert grassland, oak grassland, open pine woodland (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Bailowitz 1988; Layberry et al. 1998; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); a Pleistocene relict in formerly-extensive montane coniferous forest on the Northern Great Plains (Johnson 1975). Habitat in Montana not described but probably similar.

Food Habits
Larval food plants are grasses, including Bouteloua gracilus and Erioneuron pulchellum (Scott 1973, 1986, 1992; Ferris and Brown 1981; Layberry et al. 1998). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Asclepias, Astragalus, Baccharis, Carduus, Cirsium, Cleome, Cryptantha, Descurainia, Erigeron, Eriogonum, Erysimum, Hedysarum, Heterotheca, Hymenopappus, Jamesia, Leucelene, Linaria, Machaeranthera, Melilotus, Mirabilis, Monarda, Opuntia, Oxytropis, Penstemon, Polygonum, Sedum, Senecio, Symphoricarpos, Symphyotrichum, Thamnosma, Thermopsis, Trifolium, Zinnia) and mud (Scott 1973, 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Limited information. Adult lifespan typically less than 7 days, but up to 10 days. Females lay eggs singly on undersurface of host plant leaf or near host plant. Larvae build silk-tied leaf-tube nests, feed on host plant leaves, hibernate as half-grown (L3 or L4 instar?) larvae (Scott 1973, 1979, 1986, 1992). Males perch on rocks and low plants throughout the day on hilltops and ridge crests awaiting passing females (Scott 1973, 1975b, 1986).

References
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Citation for data on this website:
Pahaska Skipper — Hesperia pahaska.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from