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Butterflies of Montana -- Polites sabuleti

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Montana

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.

References:

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:

Elrod, M.J. 1906. The Butterflies of Montana. Bulletin of the University of
     Montana 30: 1-174.

Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown. 1980. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. 
     University of Oklahoma Press. Norman.

Layberry, R.A., Hall, P.W. & Lafontaine, D.J., 1998.  The Butterflies of 
     Canada.  University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON.  280 pp. 

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

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

Tilden, J.W. and A.C. Smith. 1986. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. 
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.
Sandhill Skipper (Polites sabuleti)
distribution map
map legend

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