Hesperia colorado
Western Branded Skipper

Family Description:
Note: This species is included as a subspecies of Hesperia comma, the Common Branded Skipper, by some authors.

The caterpillar is brown and has a dark brown head marked with light brown.
This is a small to medium-sized skipper, with a wingspan of 7/8 to1 3/8 inches, and it is highly variable in its appearance. The upperside is typically brown to orange with a dark border, with males generally brighter than females. Males have a stigma (patch of scent scales used in attracting females) that forms a slanted blackish streak on the forewing. The forewing may appear rounded but is more frequently pointed. Southwestern forms may appear reddish. Underneath varies in color and can be greenish, brownish, reddish, or orange. The underside of the hindwing may be marked with whitish to yellow spots; the spots may be merged into a curved band.


This species ranges from southern British Columbia south to southern California, southeastern Arizona, and southwestern New Mexico, and extends east in the U.S. as far as central Nebraska. It occurs throughout much of Idaho.

It occurs in open and often grassy areas.

Caterpillars feed on the leaves of various grasses and sedges.

Adult: Adults drink flower nectar, often from asters (Aster and Machaeranthera spp.) and thistles (Cirsium spp.).

Caterpillars live in nests of leaves tied with silk. Each summer, there is one generation of caterpillars. The caterpillars overwinter in a physiological state called diapause. Adults generally fly from July to September.


Males perch to wait for receptive females. Females lay eggs on or near 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. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/lepid/bflyusa/bflyusa.htm (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.