Pholisora catullus
Common Sootywing

Family Description:
Alternate Common Name: Roadside Rambler.

The caterpillar is light to yellowish green, marked with yellowish dots, each dot with a tiny hair. The head is black and hairy.
Adult: This is a fairly small skipper, with a wingspan of 1 to 1 inches. It is brownish black to black on the upperside, with very few markings – only a scattering of small white dots on the forewing. The hindwing is typically solid black or brown; however, females may have a row of white spots. Underneath is similarly marked. Because the underside is dark, the white on the underside of the head and thorax region is striking.

This widespread species ranges from southern Canada south through the U.S. to central Mexico. It does not occur along the Pacific coast, in parts of the deserts of the southwest, or in the peninsula of Florida. It can be found in much of Idaho.

It utilizes a variety of open habitats including fields, pastures, gardens, and disturbed or waste areas.

Caterpillars feed on the leaves of three common plant genera: lamb’s-quarters (Chenopodium spp.), amaranths (Amaranthus spp.), and cock’s comb (Celosia spp.).

Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar, most often from flowers close to the ground.

Caterpillars construct shelters from leaves rolled and tied with silk. There are two generations of caterpillars each growing season. Those from the second generation overwinter in their leaf shelters, in a physiological state called diapause. Adults generally fly from May through August. Butterflies often bask in the sun with their wings open.

Males actively patrol in search of receptive females. Females lay eggs singly on the uppersides of host plant leaves.

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.