North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Iowa

Crossline Skipper (Polites origenes)
JPG -- species photo

Crossline Skipper (Polites origenes [Fabricius])

Wing span: 1 1/8 - 1 1/2 inches (2.9 - 3.8 cm).

Identification: Upperside is dark brown with orange markings. Female usually lacks orange along the forewing costa and has a square spot below the end of the cell; male has a long, straight forewing stigma. Underside of hindwing is orange-brown with a faint band of spots.

Life history: Males perch in open grassy areas most of the day to await receptive females. Courtship occurs from midday to mid-afternoon. Third- and fourth-stage caterpillars hibernate.

Flight: One brood from June-August in the north, two broods from May-September in the south.

Caterpillar hosts: Purpletop (Tridens flavus), little bluestem (Andropogon scoparius), and other grasses.

Adult food: White, pink, or purple flowers are preferred including purple vetch, red clover, selfheal, dogbane, shrub houstonia, New Jersey tea, and New York ironweed.

Habitat: Open grassy areas including prairies hills, barrens, power line cuts, old fields, forest openings.

Range: Western North Dakota east across central Minnesota, southern Ontario, and southern Quebec to central Maine; south to northeast Texas, the Gulf Coast, and northern Florida. A separate population (P. o. rhena) occurs along the Rocky Mountains from northern Colorado to northeastern New Mexico.

Conservation: Populations of subspecies rhena, found in patches of all tall-grass prairies, should be conserved wherever found.

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.


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. 

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:

Nekola, Jeffrey C. 1995.  County Distribution Maps of Iowa Butterflies and 
     Skippers.  Dept. of Natural and Applied Sciences, Univ. of Wisconsin,
     Green Bay, WI.  30 pp.
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format.
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.     
Crossline Skipper (Polites origenes)
distribution map
map legend

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