North American Butterflies and Moths List

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U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Cestus Skipper (Atrytonopsis cestus)
JPG -- species photo

Cestus Skipper (Atrytonopsis cestus [W. H. Edwards])

Wing span: 1 3/8 - 1 1/2 inches (3.5 - 3.9 cm).

Identification: Fringes are checkered. Upperside is dark brown; forewing has large clear spots, hindwing has a short row of 4 spots that are not in line. Underside is lighter brown with upperside spots repeated.

Life history: From early morning to around noon, males perch on south-facing slopes of gullies to wait for females.

Flight: Several flights from April-May and August-October.

Caterpillar hosts: Probably a variety of grasses.

Adult food: Nectar from flowers including Baccharis and Opuntia.

Habitat: Open woodland and grassy thorn forest.

Range: Rare and local in south-central Arizona, west Texas, and northern Mexico.

Conservation: All populations and their habitats should be conserved wherever found.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G1 - Critically imperiled globally because of extreme rarity (5 or fewer occurrences, or very few remaining individuals), or because of some factor of its biology making it especially vulnerable to extinction. (Critically endangered throughout its range).

Management needs: None reported.


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

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

Cestus Skipper (Atrytonopsis cestus)
distribution map
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