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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Two-banded Checkered-skipper - Pyrgus ruralis

Native Species

Global Rank: G4G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status


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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Layberry et al. 1998; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.2-1.3 cm. Small, fringes checkered. Male forewing with costal fold. Uppersurface black with small white spots, the white submarginal and median spot-bands of the forewing somewhat parallel and forming an apparent "X", the spot bands on the hindwing parallel, the hindwing with a very small white postbasal spot. Undersurface of hindwing with interspersed white and reddish-brown bands.

One flight, mostly May in coastal ranges and low elevations, mid-June through mid-July at high elevation, mid-April to mid-July for southern California Pyrgus ruralis lagunae (Scott 1986). June to mid-July in the Rocky Mountain region, March to August elsewhere except April and May in southern California (Glassberg 2001). Early May to mid-July in Canada (Layberry et al. 1998). Mid-May to early July in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981). June to mid-July in northern California (Emmel and Emmel 1962; Shapiro 1977), early March to early September in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002), late March to mid-August in Oregon (Warren 2005), April to mid-July in British Columbia (Threatful 1988; Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by a combination of small size, dark uppersurface with white submarginal and median spot bands forming an "X" on the forewing, the uppersurface of the hindwing with a small white postbasal spot; undersurface of hindwing with interspersed white and reddish-brown bands.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Southern British Columbia and southwestern Alberta south in the mountains to central California, southern Utah, central Colorado (Scott 1986; Layberry et al. 1998; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); to 3200 m elevation in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), to at least 2743 m elevation in northern California (Emmel and Emmel 1962; Shapiro 1977), sea level to 2896 m elevation in Oregon (Warren 2005), to at least 1830 m elevation in Washington (James and Nunnallee 2011), to 2000 m elevation in British Columbia (Layberry et al. 1998; Guppy and Shepard 2001). In Montana, reported from at least 29 counties in the western 1/2 of the state, east to Fergus and Carbon counties (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database), to at least 1410 m elevation. Rare to uncommon in the Rocky Mountain region (Glassberg 2001).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 1

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)


Wet and dry montane meadows, forest clearings, hillsides, roadsides, creek and river margins, above treeline in alpine terrain (Emmel and Emmel 1962; Shapiro 1977; Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Threatful 1988; Layberry et al. 1998; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002; Warren 2005). Habitat in Montana not described but probably similer.

Food Habits
Larval food plants are members of the Rosaceae including Fragaria and Potentilla (multiple species), possibly Geum and Horkelia, members of the Malvaceae including Sidalcea, in captivity members of the Ericaceae including Vaccinium (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986, 2006; Layberry et al. 1998; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Dentaria, Fragaria, Potentilla, Taraxacum) and mud (Pyle 2002; Warren 2005; James and Nunnallee 2011; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly on the undersides of host plant leaves (Scott 1986; James and Nunnalee 2011). Eggs hatch in 3-4 days (depending on temperature), develop from L1 instar to L5 instar and pupae in 32 days (low elevation cohorts) to 55 days (high elevation cohorts), depending on temperature for both cohorts. Overwinter as pupae, adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in about 62 days following exposure to warm spring temperatures. Larvae feed on host plant leaves, build silk-tied tube nests of host plant leaves, may cannibalize smaller larvae, pupate in late summer-early autumn in heavily silk-lined L5 instar nest (James and Nunnallee 2011). Males patrol or perch near the ground throughout the day in valley bottoms and grassy swales in search of or awaiting passing females (Scott 1975b, 1986; Warren 2005).

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Citation for data on this website:
Two-banded Checkered-skipper — Pyrgus ruralis.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from