Poling's Giant-Skipper (Agathymus polingi [Skinner])
Wing span: 1 5/8 - 1 3/4 inches (3.5 - 4.5 cm).
Identification: Upperside is brown-black with orange-yellow wing bases and forewing costa. Both wings have dull orange-yellow bands, which are wider in the female. Underside of hindwing is mottled gray with a complete pale band.
Life history: From early morning to noon males perch near host plants to wait for receptive females. Eggs are laid singly on the host and fall to the base of the plant. A young caterpillar crawls to a leaf tip and burrows inside where it eats pulp and then hibernates. In the spring the caterpillar makes a new burrow in a leaf base where it feeds on sap until ceasing activity for the summer. Before pupating, the caterpillar enlarges the opening of its burrow and makes a silk trap door from which the adult can emerge.
Flight: One brood from September-November.
Caterpillar hosts: Schott's agave (Agave schottii) and Toumey's agave (A. toumeyana).
Adult food: Adults do not feed.
Habitat: Dry hills and open woodland.
Range: Southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and northern Mexico.
Conservation: Populations and their habitats should be conserved wherever found.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G3 - Very rare or local throughout its range or found locally in a restricted range (21 to 100 occurrences). (Threatened throughout its range).
Management needs: Preserve habitat and discourage overgrazing.
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:
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.