Northern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades) (Scudder, 1870)

Diagnosis: A medium-sized (wingspan: 28 to 38 mm), very dark brown skipper, this species has an irregular pattern of hyaline spots on the forewing; there are two groups that touch the costa and a triangular arrangement of three other spots in the centre of the wing. The underside is dark brown, paler towards the rear of the hindwing: the forewing spots are repeated. Males have a costal fold containing scent cells.

Range: This is a widespread species found across the U.S. and Canada, in all provinces except Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. It reaches north to Rimouski, Quebec, Favourable Lake, Ontario, Thompson, Manitoba, Fort Nelson, British Columbia, and just into the Northwest Territories at Fort Smith.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: In the Southern Cloudywing (T. bathyllus) the forewing spots are larger and most are aligned in a band. The Dusted Skipper (Atrytonopsis hianna) has fewer forewing spots and only one group touches the costa; the forewings are more pointed. Males of both T. bathyllus and A. hianna lacka costal fold. [compare images]

Early Stages: Larvae are dark green with a dark brownish dorsal line and paler lateral lines; the head is dark brown. They live in folded leaf-nests on the foodplants, always herbaceous Fabaceae, including Hog Peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata) at Ottawa. They overwinter as mature larvae in the leaf-nest.

Abundance: Although common and widespread, pylades is rarely abundant.

Flight Season: There is only one generation in most of Canada, mid-May to July. In extreme southwestern Ontario, there is a partial second generation in August.

Habits: Regularly found nectaring at flowers, usually in partially wooded places, this species rarely occurs in built-up areas.

© 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.