North American Butterflies and Moths List

The definitive website on wildbirds & nature

The Registry of Nature Habitats

U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of New Hampshire

Common Branded Skipper (Hesperia comma)
JPG -- species photo

Common Branded Skipper (Hesperia comma [Linnaeus])

Wing span: 1 1/8- 1 1/4 inches (2.2 - 3.0 cm).

Identification: Wings relatively short with rounded forewing tips. A northern form (H. c. laurentina) is dark above and below. Band on hindwing underside usually lustrous, spots separate, basalmost spot often set inward as in H. juba and H. nevada.

Life history: To await receptive females, males perch near the host plant or on tops of hills. Females scatter eggs on or near the host; caterpillars eat leaves and live in nests of tied leaves. In the arctic, chrysalids or older caterpillars hibernate; elsewhere eggs overwinter.

Flight: One flight from early June to mid-September, probably biennial and Arctic.

Caterpillar hosts: Various grasses and sedges.

Adult food: Nectar from many flowers including asters, goldenrods, and blazing star.

Habitat: Sunny open areas including forest openings and edges, meadows, fields, tundra, and the alpine.

Range: Holarctic. In North America from central Alaska east to Labrador; south to northern Rockies, Great Lakes states, and Maine.

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.


Layberry, R.A., P.W. Hall, and J.D. Lafontaine. 1998. The Butterflies of Canada. 
     University of Toronto Press, Toronto. 282 pages, 32 color plates.

MacNeill, C.D. 1975. Skippers (Hesperioidea). In: W.H. Howe, editor. Butterflies 
     of North America. Doubleday and Co., Garden City, New York, 633 pages.

Opler, P.A. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies.  Houghton-Mifflin Co., 
     Boston, Mass. 540 pages, 44 color plates.

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.

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: Paul A. Opler

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.     
Common Branded Skipper (Hesperia comma)
distribution map
map legend

Return to species list
Return to Butterflies of North America main page