Heliopetes ericetorum
Northern White-Skipper

Family Description:
Alternate Common Names:Large White Skipper, Great Basin White Skipper.

The caterpillar is yellow-green and marked lengthwise with yellow and green stripes. The head is black and covered with hair.
Adult: This skipper is medium-sized, with a wingspan of 1 1/8 to 1 1/2 inches. It is creamy white on the upperside, and marked with bluish gray where the wings attach to the body. There are one or two rows of blackish ">"-shaped marks along the outer edge of the wings. Females may have extensive blackish markings. Underneath is creamy white to beige and marked with tan to light brown. The wing fringes above and below have a faint checkered appearance.

This species occurs in patches of the western U.S., including eastern Washington, parts of Idaho, and Nevada and Utah, extending into parts of Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico; also through much of California.

It occurs in open areas including woodlands, chaparral, deserts, and rocky areas along waterways.

Caterpillars feed on the leaves of members of the mallow family (Malvaceae), such as hollyhock (Althaea spp.) and globemallow (Sphaeralcea spp.).
Butterflies feed on flower nectar.


Caterpillars live in shelters made of leaves rolled or tied with silk. There are multiple generations of caterpillars every year. The stage that overwinters has not been reported by scientists. Adults fly from April through October.


Males actively patrol in search of receptive females, often in canyon bottoms. Females lay yellow eggs singly on new leaves of host plants. The eggs turn white before hatching.

Idaho Status: Unprotected nongame species.
Global Rank: G5
populations levels are secure, but may be of concern in the future.

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.