Nevada Skipper (Hesperia nevada) (Scudder, 1874)

Diagnosis: The upperside of both sexes is tawny orange, with wide dark borders that blend gradually into the ground colour. Both sexes are grey green below with large silvery-white spots, which show through the upperside as pale areas in the ground colour. The highest spot, towards the leading margin of the hindwing, is always displaced away from the margin. There are prominent white spots beneath the tip of the forewing. Wingspan: 23 to 30 mm.

Range: The Nevada Skipper flies throughout the western U.S., and in Canada from Beulah, Manitoba, to Alexis Creek, British Columbia.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: The Common Branded, Western Branded, and Plains Skippers (, and H. assiniboia) are the only other Hesperia species with a greenish underside, but in them the median band is only vaguely repeated on the upper surface, never crisply reproduced as in nevada. Also, in these three species the uppermost spot in the marginal band is close to and usually partially fused with the spot adjacent to it. [compare images]

Early Stages: The larvae are greenish brown and have a black head with cream-coloured spots. In the U.S. they have been recorded on Sheep Fescue (Festuca ovina) and Western Needlegrass (Stipa occidentalis), and probably eat other perennial bunch grasses as well.

Abundance: This skipper is local and uncommon in the Prairies and rare in British Columbia.

Flight Season: In both Manitoba and Saskatchewan records seem to show two broods, one in June and the other in August. This has not been verified by rearing.

Habits: In the Prairies Hesperia nevada flies in shortgrass prairie, while in the mountains it is found in a variety of grassy habitats, even in alpine meadows (up to 3600 metres in Colorado). Prairie populations may be declining owing to habitat loss.

© 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.