North American Butterflies and Moths List

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The Registry of Nature Habitats

U.S. Geological Survey

Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Washington

Western Branded Skipper (Hesperia colorado)
JPG -- species photo

Western Branded Skipper (Hesperia colorado [Scudder])

Wing span: 7/8 - 1 3/8 inches (2.2- 3.8 cm).

Identification: Extremely variable; many geographical forms with differing appearances. Adults (especially males) have relatively pointed forewing tips and more warm orange on the upperside. Band on hindwing underside may be complete, made of small or large spots, faint, or absent.

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. Eggs overwinter.

Flight: One brood from mid-July (as early as May in California) to late September.

Caterpillar hosts: Various grasses including fescue (Festuca), brome (Bromus), bluegrass (Poa), needlegrass (Stipa), and beardgrass (Andropogon); sedges.

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

Habitat: Sunny open areas including forest openings and edges, meadows, fields, roadsides, trails, grassy slopes, and the alpine.

Range: From Washington and Wyoming south to Baja California Norte, southeastern Arizona, and western Nebraska.

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.


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

Emmel, T.C., editor. 1998. Systematics of Western North American Butterflies. 
     Mariposa Press, Gainesville, Fla. 878 pp.

Emmel, T.C. and J.F. Emmel. 1973. The butterflies of southern California. Natural 
     History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles. 148 pages.

Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown. 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. 
     University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 442 pages.

Garth, J.S. and J.W. Tilden. 1986.California Butterflies. University of California 
     Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles. 246 pp, 24 plates.

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.

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. 

Author: Paul A. Opler

State and Regional References:

Hinchliff, J. 1996. The Distribution of the Butterflies of Washington. 
     Evergreen Aurelians. Oregon State University Bookstore, Corvallis.

Layberry, R.A., Hall, P.W. & Lafontaine, D.J., 1998.  The Butterflies of 
     Canada.  University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON.  280 pp. 
Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised 
     edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.

Pyle, R.M. 1974. Watching Washington Butterflies. Seattle Audubon Society, 
     Seattle, Wash.

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.
Western Branded Skipper (Hesperia colorado)
distribution map
map legend

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