Polites draco
Draco Skipper

Family Description:
Alternate Common Name: Rocky Mountain Skipper.

The caterpillar is dark brown with a blackish head and blackish bands.
Adult: This skipper has a wingspan of 7/8 to 1 1/4 inches. The upperside of the male butterfly is dark brown, with patches of orange. The forewing has a black stigma (patch of scent scales used in attracting females); the hindwing has several streaks of orange. The female is dark brown on the upperside, with patches of orange and golden yellow, and no stigma. Underneath, both sexes are greenish gray. The underside of the forewing may be shaded with orange; the underside of the hindwing is marked with whitish patches and spots.

This species ranges from the Yukon Territory, south through British Columbia and Alberta, through the Rocky Mountains to Arizona and New Mexico. In Idaho, it occurs primarily in the central and southeastern portions of the state.

It can be found in high elevation meadows, along streams, and in wet valleys.

Records are sparse, but caterpillars are believed to feed on a variety of grasses (Family Poaceae).

Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar, often from yellow flowers belonging to the sunflower family (Asteraceae).

There is one generation of caterpillars each summer. The overwintering stage is unreported. Adults generally fly from early June to early August. At rest, these butterflies are found with their forewings partially open and their hindwings fully open. Though little is known or reported about its ecology, this is one of the most common skippers in the western U.S.

Males perch to wait for receptive females. Females are believed to lay eggs on host plants but this has yet to be confirmed.

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.