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Montana Field Guides

Draco Skipper - Polites draco


Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

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General Description
[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.

Phenology
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).

Diagnostic Characteristics
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.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Range Comments
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).

Migration
Non-migratory.

Habitat
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.

Food Habits
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).

Reproductive Characteristics
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).

References
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Citation for data on this website:
Draco Skipper — Polites draco.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from