Pahaska Skipper (Hesperia pahaska) (Leussler, 1938)

Diagnosis: In both sexes, the upperside ground colour is orange, and the dark markings grey rather than black, diffusing somewhat into the orange areas. The underside is orange brown with a buff-coloured anal area. The medial spot band is complete, with six spots, including the rear three in a straight line. The contents of the male stigma are yellow. Wingspan: 28 to 33 mm.

Subspecies: Three, but only the nominate subspecies is found in Canada.

Range: Pahaska flies in a narrow belt of states extending from Texas to North Dakota, just reaching Canada in southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: Hesperia pahaska could perhaps be found flying with the Uncas Skipper (H. uncas); see the Nevada Skipper (H. nevada), which has a greenish-grey underside, or with the Dakota Skipper, Leonard's Skipper, and Plains Skipper (H. dacotae, H. leonardus pawnee, and H. assiniboia), all of which have pale undersides with a reduced medial band. [compare images]

Early Stages: The larvae are light brown, with a dark brown head with cream markings on the face. They feed on Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis) and Fluff Grass (Erioneuron pulchellum) in the U.S.

Abundance: It is local and uncommon in its U.S. range; extremely rare in Canada.

Flight Season: The Pahaska Skipper flies from June to early July in the northern U.S.

Habits: In the northern part of its range pahaska flies in short-grass prairie and open pine forest. Males are reported to perch on hilltops waiting for females.

Remarks: The Pahaska Skipper was first recorded in Canada by Ronald Hooper in dry prairie on the edge of the Frenchman River Valley near Rosefield, Saskatchewan, on 25 and 27 June 1968. Recently a specimen was discovered in the Canadian National Collection labelled "Miniota, Man. August 1, 1924, Gibbon [Collection]"; it had been identified as Plains Skipper (H. assiniboia).

© 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.