North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Texas

Desert Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus philetas)
JPG -- species photo

Desert Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus philetas W. H. Edwards)

Wing span: 1 - 1 1/8 inches (2.5 - 2.9 cm).

Identification: Upperside dark brown with whitish markings; male has a few long gray-blue hairs and a costal fold on the forewing. Hindwing has tiny marginal and submarginal spots; median band of female is reduced. Underside of hindwing is pale grayish white.

Life history: To await females, males patrol and occasionally perch throughout the day in gulches and near springs. Caterpillars live and feed in shelters made of webbed leaves.

Flight: Two to three broods; from February-December in Texas, April-October in Arizona.

Caterpillar hosts: Mallows including malva loca (Malvastrum) and alkali mallows (Sida).

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Open, moist spots in deserts or thorn forests.

Range: Southern Arizona east to South Texas, south to southern Mexico. Strays north to northern Arizona and north Texas.

Conservation: Not usually required.

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.


Bailowitz, R. A., and J. P. Brock. 1991. Butterflies of southeastern Arizona. 
     Sonoran Arthropod Studies, Inc., Tucson, Arizona. 342 pages.

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:

Neck, R.W. 1996. A Field Guide to Butterflies of Texas. Gulf Publishing Co., 
     Houston, Texas.

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.
Tveten, J. and Tveten, G.  1996.  Butterflies of Houston & Southeast Texas.
     Univ. of Texas Press, Austin, TX.  292 pp.
Desert Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus philetas)
distribution map
map legend

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