North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Northern Mexico

Umber Skipper (Poanes melane)
JPG -- species photo

Umber Skipper (Poanes melane [W. H. Edwards])

Wing span: 1 1/4 - 1 3/8 inches (3.2 - 3.5 cm).

Identification: Upperside is umber brown; forewing with darker disc and pale spots; hindwing with a light yellow-brown band. Female is larger and lighter colored. Underside resembles upperside but spots are larger and lighter; forewing base is black.

Life history: Males perch in grassy areas to wait for receptive females. Caterpillars feed on leaves and live in shelters of rolled or tied leaves.

Flight: Two broods from March-May and September-October.

Caterpillar hosts: Various grasses including tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia caespitosa), Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), California brome (Bromus carinatus); and sedges including San Diego sedge (Carex spissa).

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Desert foothills, grassy areas, streamsides, roadsides, yards, parks, open oak woodland.

Range: California west of the Sierra Nevada Divide; southern Arizona; Baja California and the highlands of Mexico and Central America.

Conservation: Not usually required.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure globally, though it might be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

Management needs: None reported.


Bailowitz, R. A., and J. P. Brock. 1991. Butterflies of southeastern Arizona. 
     Sonoran Arthropod Studies, Inc., Tucson, Arizona. 342 pages.

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.
Umber Skipper (Poanes melane)
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