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Butterflies of California -- Polites themistocles

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of California

Tawny-edged Skipper (Polites themistocles)
JPG -- species photo

Tawny-edged Skipper (Polites themistocles [Latreille])

Wing span: 7/8 - 1 7/16 inches (2.2 - 3.6 cm).

Identification: Upperside is dark brown with orange markings; orange along the costal edge of forewing enters the end of the cell. Male has a sinuous forewing stigma. Underside of hindwing is brassy with no markings.

Life history: To await receptive females, males perch all day in grassy valley bottoms and swales. Females lay eggs singly on or near the host plant. Caterpillars feed on leaves and live in shelters of tied leaves. Chrysalids hibernate.

Flight: One brood from June-July in the north, two broods from April-September from New York south, several broods throughout the year in Florida.

Caterpillar hosts: Panic grasses (Panicum), slender crabgrass (Digitaria filiformis), and bluegrass (Poa pratensis).

Adult food: Nectar from flowers including alfalfa, red clover, dogbane, shrub houstonia, purple coneflower, thistles, and chicory.

Habitat: Moist grassy areas including prairie swales, pastures, lawns, roadsides, and vacant lots.

Range: Southern British Columbia east across southern Canada to Nova Scotia; south to northern California, central Arizona, central Texas, the Gulf states, and central Florida.

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.

References:

Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns 
     Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates.

Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson 
     field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates.

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. 

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 
     Angeles.
     
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.
Tawny-edged Skipper (Polites themistocles)
distribution map
map legend

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