Carterocephalus palaemon
Arctic Skipper

Sub-Family Description:

Alternate Common Name: Arctic Skipperling.
The caterpillar is whitish green to off-white, marked lengthwise with a dark green stripe just below the back and a pale yellow stripe above a row of black spots on each side.
Adult: This is a medium-sized skipper, with a wingspan of 1 to 1 inches. The upperside is dark brown to black, checked with large yellow to orange squares and spots, and edged in yellow. A row of yellow spots borders the wings. Underneath is red to orange; the forewing is marked with blackish spots while the hindwing has off-white spots.

It occurs in Europe, central Alaska and across the southern half of Canada, in the Pacific Northwest south to northern California, in the Rockies to western Wyoming, and in northern Minnesota east through the Great Lakes to New England. It occurs throughout northern Idaho and along the eastern border of the state.

This species frequents woodlands, meadows, bogs, and grassy lowlands.

The caterpillars eat the leaves of a variety of grasses, including reed grasses (Calamagrostis spp.) and bromes (Bromus spp.).
Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar, often from irises.

Caterpillars make nests of leaves tied together with silk. Older caterpillars overwinter within these nests in a physiological state called diapause, and pupate in them in the spring. There is only one generation of caterpillars each summer. Adults generally fly from May to early August. The butterflies will bask in the sun with their forewings open halfway and their hindwings open fully.

Males perch to wait for receptive females, and may occasionally actively patrol. Females lay eggs on host plant leaves.

Idaho Status: Unprotected nongame species.
Global Rank: G5
populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.
In England, however, it is an endangered species.


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