Draco Skipper - Polites draco
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.3-1.5 cm. Uppersurface of forewing with broad diffuse borders, tawny area of hindwing restricted. Male forewing stigma black and S-shaped. Undersurface of hindwing orange-yellow to brown or green; postmedian spot band irregular and yellow or white, not extending along veins, with one or two spots in middle of band elongated to dashes or a lightening bolt protruding into cell.
One flight, mid-June through July (Scott 1986). Late May through July (Glassberg 2001). Late June to early August in Canada (Layberry et al. 1998). Early June to early August in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981). Late May to late August in Colorado (Brown 1962; Emmel 1964; Scott and Scott 1978), late June to early July in northern British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).
Best determined by overall darker appearance, male stigma on uppersurface of forewing black and S-shaped,undersurface of hindwing with postmedian spot band irregular and yellow or white, not extending along veins, with one or two spots in middle of band elongated to dashes or a lightening bolt protruding into cell.
Disjunct in southwestern Yukon and northern British Columbia, then from western Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan (Cypress Hills) south through Rocky Mountains to southern Nevada, central Arizona, central New Mexico (Scott 1986; Layberry et al. 1998; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002); 2134 m to at least 3810 m elevation in Colorado (Brown 1957, 1962; Scott and Scott 1978). In Montana, reported from at least 26 counties in the western 1/3 of the state, east in the north to Fergus County, in the south to Big Horn County (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database), 1189 m to at least 2682 m elevation. Mainly uncommon to common, except the White Mountains of Arizona (abundant) and Cypress Hills of Saskatchewan (locally rare) (Glassberg 2001).
Dry montane meadows, moist subalpine meadows, forest openings, avalanche chutes, streamsides, grassy hillsides, above treeline in alpine tundra (Emmel 1964; Scott and Scott 1978; Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Layberry et al. 1998; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002). Habitat in Montana not described but probably similar.
Larval food plants are grasses, including Agropyron, Festuca (multiple species), Koeleria, Poa (multiple species), and Stipa (Scott 1992, 2006). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Achillea, Aletes, Antennaria, Arnica, Astragalus, Erigeron, Eriogonum, Erysimum, Harbouria, Heterotheca, Hymenoxys, Iris, Oxytropis, , Sedum, Senecio, Symphyotrichum, Taraxacum) and mud (Scott 2014).
Limited information. Females lay eggs singly on host plant leaves as well as on flowers (e.g., Antennaria, Lupinus, Oxytropis, Potentilla, Taraxacum) near larval host grasses, typically the undersurface. Larvae feed on leaves, build leaf-tube nest tied with silk, probably hibernate (diapause) as L4 instar before developing further and pupation the following spring (Scott 1992, 2006). Males perch throughout the day in low grassy spots, meadows, gullies to await passing females (Scott 1975b, 1986).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Brown, F.M. 1957. Colorado Butterflies. Proceedings; Numbers Three through Seven. Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver, Co.
- 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. 1986. The butterflies of North America: a natural history and field guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
- 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.
- 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.
- Brown, F.M. 1962. The variation of Polites draco (Hesperidae) with altitude. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 16:239-242.
- Emmel, T.C. 1964. The ecology and distribution of butterflies in a montane community near Florissant, Colorado. American Midland Naturalist 72(2): 358-373.
- Scott, J.A. 1975b. Mate-locating behavior of western North American butterflies. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 14:1-40.
- Scott, J.A. 1992. Hostplant records for butterflies and skippers (mostly from Colorado) 1959-1992, with new life histories and notes on oviposition, immatures, and ecology. Papilio new series #6. 185 p.
- 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.
- Scott, J.A. and G.R. Scott. 1978. Ecology and distribution of the butterflies of southern central Colorado. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 17(2): 73-128.
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