North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Nebraska

Ottoe Skipper (Hesperia ottoe)
JPG -- species photo

Ottoe Skipper (Hesperia ottoe W. H. Edwards)

Wing span: 1 1/4 - 1 11/16 inches (3.2 - 4.3 cm).

Identification: Upperside is bright brownish orange; male has narrow black edging on the outer margins of both wings, female is brighter with diffuse borders. Stigma on male forewing has black or gray felt. Underside of hindwing is yellow-orange; no markings in the male, sometimes with faint markings in the female.

Life history: Adults are strong fliers. Males perch near the host plants all day to wait for receptive females. Eggs are laid singly at the base of a grass stem. In Minnesota eggs may be laid on the flowers of Echinacea angustifolia; the young caterpillars must drop off the flower and find a host plant to eat. Caterpillars live in a nest of leaves tied with silk, and fourth-stage caterpillars hibernate.

Flight: One brood from June-August.

Caterpillar hosts: Fall witchgrass (Leptoloma cognatum), little bluestem (Andropogon scoparius), and other grasses.

Adult food: Nectar from flowers of green and common milkweeds, yellow prickly pear, vetch, alfalfa, bush houstonia, purple coneflower, leadplant, compassplant, sunflower, and blazing star.

Habitat: Native tall-grass prairie.

Range: Southern Manitoba and eastern Montana south along the high plains to north Texas; east through Nebraska and Kansas to central Illinois and southwest Michigan.

Conservation: Conversion of tall-grass prairie to agricultural use has greatly reduced the habitat and numbers of the Ottoe Skipper.

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: Populations of this skipper should be conserved wherever found. Care should be taken in habitat management. Use of fire as a tool should be discouraged.


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. 

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:

Dankert, N., Nagel, H., and T. Nightengale. 1993. Butterfly Distribution Maps- 
     Nebraska. University of Nebraska, Kearney.

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.
Ottoe Skipper (Hesperia ottoe)
distribution map
map legend

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