Grass skippers

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Grass skippers or banded skippers[2] are butterflies of the subfamily Hesperiinae, part of the skipper family, Hesperiidae. The subfamily was established by Pierre André Latreille in 1809.[1]

Grass skippers
Silver-spotted skipper butterfly (Hesperia comma) female.jpg
Silver-spotted skipper butterfly (Hesperia comma) female underside.jpg
both Hesperia comma
Scientific classification

Latreille, 1809
and see text

Description and distributionEdit

With over 2,000 described species, this is the largest skipper butterfly subfamily and occurs worldwide except in New Zealand.[3] About 50 percent of grass skippers live in the Neotropics.[4] 137 species are native to North America. Around 38 species are native to Australia.[5] Genera Ochlodes and Hesperia exist exclusively in the Holarctic.[6]

They are usually orange, rust, or brown in colour and have pointed forewings.[2] Many species have dark markings or black stigmas on their forewings.[2] Most members of this subfamily have an oval antenna club with an apiculus on the tip, although Carterocephalus and Piruna do not.[7] The antennae generally has a sharp bend.

Hesperiinae larvae feed on many different types of grasses and sedges and palms, though some species are limited.[7][8]

Adults typically visit flowers and hold their wings together while feeding.[2] Hesperiinae are unique in that they hold their wings partially open while resting, with the forewings and hindwings held at different angles. This is known as the "jet-plane position".[9] Most male grass skippers perch to await females.[7]

Adults are strong fliers; they move quickly and usually in a linear direction. Some of the species, however, do flutter and these species patrol for females rather than perch.[7]

Genera incertae sedisEdit

These[10] grass skipper genera have not yet been assigned to tribes:


The following grass skippers are considered at risk.[11]

Species Status Location
Silver spotted skipper Rare, Protected (UK) Europe
Lulworth skipper Protected (UK) Europe
Orange grass-dart skipper Rare Australia
White-banded grass-dart skipper Rare Australia
Arogos skipper Endangered (USA states IL, NJ, NY), Threatened (USA state MN), Species of Concern (USA state IA) North America
Byssus skipper Endangered (USA Federal listing) North America
Carson wandering skipper Endangered (USA Federal listing) North America
Dukes' skipper Threatened (US state (MI) North America
Dakota skipper Threatened (Canada), Endangered (Canada province MB), Federal Candidate (USA), Vulnerable (ICUN) North America
Mardon skipper Endangered (USA state WA & Federal Candidate USA) North America
Otto skipper Endangered (Canada), Threatened (Canada province MB), Threatened (USA states (IL, MI, MN) North America
Pawnee montane skipper Threatened (USA Federal listing) North America
Poweshiek ling skipper Threatened (Canada), Endangered (USA state WI), Threatened (USA state IA, MI), Species of Concern (USA state MN) North America
Rare skipper Endangered (US state DE) North America
Wandering skipper Threatened (Mexico, USA) North America


  1. ^ a b Brower, Andrew V.Z.; Warren, Andrew. "Hesperiinae Latreille 1809". The Tree of Life Web Project. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Daniels, Jaret C. (2003). Butterflies of the Carolinas. Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, Inc. p. 9. ISBN 1-59193-007-3.
  3. ^ Boggs, Carol L.; Watt, Ward B.; Ehrlich, Paul R., eds. (2003). Butterflies Ecology and Evolution Taking Flight. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. p. 480. ISBN 0-226-06317-8.
  4. ^ Kükenthal, Willy (1999). Schmidt-Rhaesa, Andreas; Kristensen, Niels P. (eds.). VOLUME 1: EVOLUTION, SYSTEMATICS, AND BIOGEOGRAPHY. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter. p. 274. ISBN 9-783-11015-704-8.
  5. ^ Kitching, R.L.; Scheermeyer, E.; Jones, R.E.; Pierce, N.E., eds. (1999). Biology of Australian Butterflies. Collingwood, Victoria, Australia: CSIRO Publishing. p. 71. ISBN 0-6430-5027-2.
  6. ^ Kristensen, Niels P. (1999). Lepidoptera, moths, and butterflies. 4. Berlin: De Gruyter. p. 274. ISBN 9783110157048.
  7. ^ a b c d Scott, James A. (1986). The Butterflies of North America A Natural History and Field Guide. Stanford University Press. p. 424-425. ISBN 0-8047-2013-4.
  8. ^ Minno, Marc C. (1994). Immature stages of the skipper butterflies (Lepidoptera: hesperiidae) of the United States : biology, morphology, and descriptions (PhD). University of Florida. p. 18. Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  9. ^ Brock, Jim P.; Kaufman, Kenn (2003). Kaufman Focus Guides Butterflies of North America. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 302. ISBN 0618254005.
  10. ^ Brower, Andrew V.Z.; Warren, Andrew. "Hesperiinae incertae sedis". The Tree of Life Web Project. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  11. ^ Beyer, Loni Jean (2009). Oviposition Selection by a Rare Grass Skipper, Polites mardon, in Montane Habitats: Advancing Ecological Understanding for Developing Conservation Strategies (PDF) (PhD). Washington State University Vancouver. pp. 40–41. Retrieved 2018-09-16.

External linksEdit