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Butterflies of North America -- Carterocephalus palaemon

North American Butterflies and Moths List

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U.S. Geological Survey


Butterflies of North America

Arctic Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon)
JPG -- species photo

Arctic Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon [Pallas])

Wing span: 1 - 1 1/4 inches (2.5 - 3.2 cm).

Identification: Upperside is black with squarish orange spots. Underside of the forewing is orange with black spots; underside of hindwing is red-orange with cream spots outlined in black.

Life history: Adults rest with their wings closed, but bask with hindwings open wide and forewings open to about 45 degrees. To find receptive females, males perch on low vegetation and sometimes patrol in openings. Females lay eggs singly on leaves of the host plant. Caterpillars live and feed within nests of silked-together leaves; fully-grown caterpillars overwinter in their nests and then pupate within them in the spring.

Flight: One brood from May-July.

Caterpillar hosts: Grasses including purple reedgrass (Calamagrostis purpurascens) in California, and bromes (Bromus) in Europe; probably others.

Adult food: Nectar from flowers including iris in California.

Habitat: Glades and openings in heavily forested woods, moist meadows, and streamsides.

Range: Central Alaska south to central California, south in the Rocky Mountains to northwest Wyoming, east across the Great Lakes states to New York and New England. Eurasia.

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.

References:

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

Arctic Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon)
distribution map
map legend

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