North American Butterflies and Moths List

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U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of North Dakota

Rhesus Skipper (Polites rhesus)
JPG -- species photo

Rhesus Skipper (Polites rhesus [W. H. Edwards])

Wing span: 1 - 1 1/4 inches (2.5 - 3.2 cm).

Identification: Fringes are white. Upperside is dark brown; male stigma is not apparent. Forewing spots are white; larger in the female. Underside of hindwing is greenish brown with white veins, a white band, and irregular dark spots.

Life history: To await receptive females, males perch on small mesas up to 6 feet high or on flats where there are no mesas. Females lay eggs singly on the host plants.

Flight: One brood from May-June.

Caterpillar hosts: Blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis).

Adult food: Nectar from flowers including Drummond's milkvetch (Astragalus drummondii).

Habitat: Native short-grass and mixed-grass prairie.

Range: Southern Manitoba south through the grasslands of Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Arizona, and New Mexico into northern Mexico.

Conservation: Species should be monitored as native short-grass habitats are gradually being replaced by agriculture. Suitable habitats may require moderate grazing.

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.


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:

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.

Royer, R.A. 1988. Butterflies of North Dakota. Science Monograph #1, Minot 
     State University, Minot, North Dakota.

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.
Rhesus Skipper (Polites rhesus)
distribution map
map legend

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