Garita Skipperling (Oarisma garita) (Reakirt, 1866)

Diagnosis: Oarisma garita is orange brown above, and lacks any dark or light spots or markings. Below, the forewings are orange brown with a dark inner margin, and the hindwings are dark greyish brown with an orange inner margin. The veins are very lightly marked with light grey. Wingspan: 20 to 25 mm.

Range: The Garita Skipperling occurs from Mexico northwards throughout the American Midwest, and in Canada from southern Manitoba to the Peace River District of Alberta and British Columbia. It also flies in a few areas in the southern interior of British Columbia, and in the vicinity of Manitoulin Island in Ontario.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: Oarisma garita is smaller than the Poweshiek Skipperling (O. poweshiek). Large specimens are best distinguished by their much brighter ground colour on both wing surfaces, and by the absence of the heavily marked veins on the hindwings below. [compare images]

Early Stages: The larvae are light green with a white dorsal stripe and seven white stripes on each side; they hibernate in the fourth instar (Scott, 1986). Foodplants are grasses.

Abundance: The Garita Skipperling, in contrast to the Poweshiek Skipperling, is common and widespread.

Flight Season: There is one generation per year, from mid-June to mid-July.

Habits: The Garita Skipperling flies in dry and moist short-grass prairie, only where native grasses are present.

Remarks: The colony on Great La Cloche Island, Manitoulin District, Ontario, was discovered by Paul Catling on 26 June 1976 in a large limestone alvar area. In 1992 it was found to extend along at least eight kilometres of Highway 6, virtually to the limits of the alvar habitat. The suggestion in Scott (1986) that this is an introduced population seems unlikely; relict populations of many prairie species of birds, insects, and plants occur in this area.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.