North American Butterflies and Moths List

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U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of North Carolina

Zabulon Skipper (Poanes zabulon)
JPG -- species photo

Zabulon Skipper (Poanes zabulon [Boisduval & LeConte])

Wing span: 1 3/8 - 1 5/8 inches (3.5 - 4.2 cm).

Identification: Male: Upperside is bright yellow-orange with black borders and no stigma. Underside of hindwing is mostly yellow with a dark brown wingbase and outer margin. Female: Upperside is purple-brown with pale yellow spots; underside of hindwing is brown and purple-gray with a white-edged costal margin.

Life history: Males perch in sunlit openings or edges on leaves about 3-5 feet above the ground. They appear to defend their territory and may keep a perch for up to a week. Courtship usually occurs in the afternoon. Females lay eggs singly under the host leaves. Caterpillars feed on leaves and make shelters of silk-tied leaves.

Flight: Two broods from May-September in the north; several broods all year in the tropical highlands.

Caterpillar hosts: Grasses including lovegrass (Eragrostis), purpletop (Tridens), bluegrass (Poa), wheatgrass (Agropyron), orchardgrass (Dactylis), wildrye (Elymus), and bentgrass (Agrostis).

Adult food: Nectar from a variety of flowers including the exotics Japanese honeysuckle, red clover, everlasting pea, and selfheal; and the natives blackberry, purple vetch, common milkweed, buttonbush, joe-pye weed, and thistles.

Habitat: Brushy openings near moist forests and streams.

Range: Massachusetts west through southern Michigan to central Kansas; south to central Florida, southern Louisiana, and northeast Texas. Strays to New Mexico, South Dakota, and southern Quebec. A separate population ranges from central Mexico south to Panama.

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.


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:

Layberry, R.A., Hall, P.W. & Lafontaine, D.J., 1998.  The Butterflies of 
     Canada.  University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON.  280 pp. 
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format.
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.     
Zabulon Skipper (Poanes zabulon)
distribution map
map legend

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