Amblyscirtes vialis
Common Roadside-Skipper

Family Description:
Alternate Common Names:
Roadside Skipper, Black Little Skipper.

The caterpillar has a light green body, dotted with green, and a whitish head with brown stripes. It is covered with fine hair.
Adult: This is a small skipper, with a wingspan of approximately one inch. The upperside is dark brown to black, with two to three small white spots in a row near the tip of each forewing. The wings have a distinct, checkerboard-like outer fringe of dark and light brown. Underneath, the fore- and hindwing are both dark brown close to the body and grayish violet on the outer half towards the tip.

This species occurs throughout southern Canada and most of the U.S., but can be found only in patches of the southwest. It occurs in northern and central Idaho.

These skippers can be found in woodlands or open areas.

Caterpillars eat a variety of grasses including bentgrass (Agrostis spp.), wild oats (Avena spp.), bluegrass (Poa spp.), and Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon).
Adult: Butterflies obtain nectar from flowers close to the ground, such as verbena (Verbena spp.) and self-heal (Prunella vulgaris).

Caterpillars construct shelters of rolled leaves tied with silk. While in the shelter, the caterpillar produces a white, waxy, outer covering for itself. Once the wax shield is complete, the caterpillar exits and remains outside. Usually there is only one generation of caterpillars each summer, but two may occur in the southern parts of its range. Caterpillars overwinter in a physiological state called diapause. Adults generally fly from March through July. This is the most common skipper of North America.

Males perch and wait for receptive females. Greenish-white eggs are laid singly on host plants.

Idaho Status: Unprotected nongame species.
Global Rank: G5
populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.

Ferris, C. D. and F. M. Brown. (eds.) 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. Univ. of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, USA, 442 pp.

Opler, P. A., H. Pavulaan, and R. E. Stanford. 1995. Butterflies of North America. Jamestown, North Dakota, USA: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Home Page. (Version 05Nov98).

Opler, P. A. and A. B.Wright. 1999. A Field Guide to the Western Butterflies.   Second Edition.  Peterson Field Guide Series. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, New York, USA, 540 pp.

Pyle, R. M. 1981. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, New York, USA, 924 pp.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, USA, 583 pp.

Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western U.S.A. Butterflies (Including Adjacent Parts of Canada and Mexico). Published by authors, Denver, Colorado, USA, 275 pp.