North American Butterflies and Moths List

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U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of South Dakota

Small Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus scriptura)
JPG -- species photo

Small Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus scriptura [Boisduval])

Wing span: 3/4 - 1 inch (2 - 2.5 cm).

Identification: Upperside is black-brown; forewing white spots are small; hindwing spots are few and submarginal row may be absent. Underside of forewing repeats upperside markings. Underside of hindwing is pale with barely contrasting markings. Male does not have a costal fold. White hindwing fringe is streaked with black only halfway to the edge of the fringe.

Life history: Males patrol and occasionally perch in swales and gullies in their search for receptive females. Eggs are deposited singly on leaves of the host plant. Caterpillars make a webbed leaf nest in which they live and feed.

Flight: One brood from July-August in the north, several broods from March-November in the southern part of the range.

Caterpillar hosts: Alkali mallow (Sida hederacea), scarlet globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea), and desert globemallow (S. ambigua); all in the mallow family (Malvaceae).

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Prairie, open woodland, alkaline marshes and fields.

Range: Montana and eastern Wyoming south through Colorado and New Mexico to Mexico; west through Utah, Nevada, and Arizona to southern California and Baja California Norte.

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.


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. 

Tilden, J.W. and A.C. Smith. 1986. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. 
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.
Small Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus scriptura)
distribution map
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