Polites sabuleti
Sandhill Skipper

Family Description:
Alternate Common Name: Saltgrass Skipper.

Caterpillar: The caterpillar can vary in color, from purplish brown, to green, to gray mottled with brown. It may be marked lengthwise with dark lines along the back and sides. The face is black and marked with white.
Adult: This skipper is fairly small, with a wingspan of 7/8 to 1 1/4 inches. Though it varies in its appearance, generally it is yellowish orange on the upperside with dark brown borders, appearing jagged towards the inside. The male has a black stigma (patch of scent scales used in attracting females) on the forewing. The female lacks a stigma, but may have several whitish to yellow spots in the border of the forewing. Underneath, the forewing is orangish in the center, dark near the body and more yellowish to brownish elsewhere. The underside of the hindwing generally is brownish to yellow, with a yellow to white patch that extends to the outer edge along the veins. The veins end with small dark spots at the edge.

This species ranges from southern British Columbia south through Washington and parts of Idaho to southern and Baja California, extending east as far as Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico.

It can be found in a number of habitats, including dunes, marshes, alkali flats, meadows, and sagebrush steppe.

Caterpillars feed on the leaves of a variety of grasses (Family Poaceae).

Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar.

The number of generations of caterpillars each year varies with location, from one to two in the north to many in the south. Caterpillars construct nests from leaves tied with silk. Pupae of the last generation of the growing season overwinter in a physiological state called diapause. Adults generally fly from March to November (July to August at high elevations). The butterflies when at rest are found with their forewings partially open and their hindwings fully open.

Males perch to wait for receptive females. Females lay bluish green eggs singly 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.