North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of California

Sandhill Skipper (Polites sabuleti)
JPG -- species photo

Sandhill Skipper (Polites sabuleti [Boisduval])

Wing span: 7/8 - 1 1/4 inches (2.2 - 3.2 cm).

Identification: Common and quite variable. Upperside of male is yellow-orange with dark toothed borders and a sinuous stigma on the forewing. Upperside of female has heavier dark markings and almost transparent light spots; no stigma. Underside of the hindwing in both sexes is yellow-tan with yellow veins, dark chevrons between the veins at the outer margin, and dark spots at the vein ends.

Life history: To watch for females, males perch all day in low grassy areas. Females deposit eggs singly on the host or on nearby plants. Caterpillars feed on leaves and take shelter in nests of tied leaves. Chrysalids hibernate.

Flight: One flight from June-August at high elevations; several flights from March-October in the south and at low elevations.

Caterpillar hosts: Various grasses including Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), bluegrass (Poa pratensis), desert salt grass (Distichlis spicata var. stricta), sand lovegrass (Eragrostis trichodes), rough bentgrass (Agrostis scabra), Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis), and alpine fescue (Festuca brachyphylla).

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Alkali grasslands, moist meadows, lawns, salt marshes, sand dunes, sagebrush flats, and alpine fell-fields.

Range: Southern British Columbia and eastern Washington south through California and northern Arizona to Baja California; east to southeastern Wyoming, central Colorado, and northeastern New Mexico.

Conservation: Not usually required.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

Management needs: None reported.


Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, 
     Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.

Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies including 
     adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Denver and Fort Collins, CO. 

Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., 
     Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.

Author: Jane M. Struttmann

State and Regional References:

Brown, J.W., Real, H.G., and D.K. Faulkner. 1992. Butterflies of Baja 
     California. Lepidoptera Research Foundation, Beverly Hills, Calif.

Comstock, J.A. 1927. Butterflies of California. Privately published, Los 
     Angeles, Calif. [Facsimile available from 	Entomological Reprint 
     Specialists, Los Angeles, Calif.]

Dameron, W. 1997. Searching for butterflies in southern California.
     Flutterby Press, Los Angeles, Calif.

Emmel, T.C. Editor. 1998. Systematics of western North American butterflies.
     Mariposa Press, Gainesville, Florida.

Emmel, T. C. and J. F. Emmel. 1973. The Butterflies of Southern California. 
     Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Science Series No. 26.

Garth, J.S. and J.W. Tilden. 1986. California Butterflies.  California Natural
     History Guide 51. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los 
Langston, R.L. 1981. The Rhopalocera of Santa Cruz Island, California. Journal
     of Research on the Lepidoptera 18: 24-35.     

Miller, Scott E. 1985. Butterflies of the Califorenia Channel Islands. Journal
     of the Research on the Lepidoptera 23: 282-296.     

Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised 
     edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.

Orsak, L.J. 1977. The Butterflies of Orange County, California. Museum of 
     Systematic Biology, University of california, Irvine.

Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. 
     Privately published, Denver, Colo.

Steiner, J. 1990. Bay Area Butterflies: The Distribution and Natural History 
     of San Francisco Region Rhopalocera. Hayward, Calif.: Hayward State 
     University, Masters Thesis.

Tilden, J.W. and A.C. Smith. 1986. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. 
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.

Tilden, J.W. 1965. Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay Region. California 
     Natural History Guide 12. University of California Press, Berkeley and 
     Los Angeles.
Sandhill Skipper (Polites sabuleti)
distribution map
map legend

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