Ochlodes sylvanoides
Woodland Skipper

Family Description:
Alternate Common Name: Western Skipper.

The caterpillar can vary in appearance, from light green with a dark line down the back to yellowish and lined with black.
Adult: This is a fairly small skipper, with a wingspan ranging from 1 to 1 inches. It is orange to coppery on the upperside with a jagged, dark brown border. The male has a black stigma (region of scent scales used in attracting females) on the forewing; the female has a black band of color in the same area, running diagonally across the wing. The hindwing of males is orange bordered by brownish black; in females, it is mostly brownish black with a small orange portion. Underneath is particularly variable, ranging from orange to yellow to tan. The borders are often darker than the rest of the wing, and there may be a band or patch of yellowish to cream spots on both the fore- and hindwing.

This species ranges from southern British Columbia and Alberta south through the western U.S. to southern California and northern Arizona and New Mexico, from the coast to central Montana, eastern Wyoming, and central Colorado. It occurs throughout most of Idaho.

It can utilize a wide range of habitats, including marshes, along streams, woodlands, sagebrush steppe, chaparral, gardens, and vacant lots.

Caterpillars feed on a variety of grasses, such as Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) and canary grass (Phalaris spp.).

Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar, often from flowers rarely visited by other butterfly species, such as ox-eye daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum) and everlasting (Antennaria racemosa).

There is one new generation of caterpillars each year through most of its range; there may be two or more in parts of California. Young caterpillars overwinter in a physiological state called diapause. In the spring, they emerge to continue feeding and molting. They re-enter diapause in the summer, now fully grown, and later they emerge to pupate. Adults emerge and fly generarlly from July to October, mating and laying eggs in the fall; the eggs hatch and the cycle continues. Caterpillars feeding in large numbers can damage solid tracts of cultivated grasses, such as golf courses. This skipper is a very common butterfly, likely due in part to its habitat versatility.

Males perch to wait for receptive females. The locations chosen by females to lay eggs have not been observed or reported.

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.