Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius) (W. Kirby, 1837)

Diagnosis: This and the other eight Canadian Polites species have short, triangular wings with rounded outer margins. Both sexes of Polites peckius have dark brown uppersides, with a series of small light orange flecks on the forewing and a central orange patch on the hindwing that is broken by dark shading on the veins. Males have a curved black stigma bordering a bright orange patch on the costa; females have just a trace of orange there. Beneath, both sexes have a large irregular-shaped, pale straw-coloured patch in the centre of the hindwing. Wingspan: 19 to 27 mm.

Range: Peck's Skipper flies in most of the northern and central U.S., except on the west coast. In Canada it occurs from Newfoundland to British Columbia, ranging as far north as Cartwright, Labrador, Moar Lake, Ontario, Leaf Rapids, Manitoba, and the Hay River area in Alberta.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: It is distinguished from other Canadian Polites skippers by the large patch on the underside of the hindwing.

Early Stages: The larva is dark maroon mottled with light brown. The head is black, streaked and spotted with white. Foodplants are grasses, including Rice Cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides) in Manitoba. They overwinter in Canada as partly grown larvae.

Abundance: Peck's Skipper is locally common throughout its range, but often is rare or absent from locations that appear perfectly suitable.

Flight Season: Polites peckius flies from late June to late July in the east and early August in the west. There is one generation per year in Canada, except for a partial second brood in southern and eastern Ontario; there are three in the southern U.S.

Habits: This skipper is often seen on flowers, especially members of the pea family (e.g., vetch), as well as at damp areas on sandy roadsides and in wet meadows and the edge of marshes. At Buffalo Narrows in northern Saskatchewan and near Matagami in northern Quebec it has colonized the only grassy habitats in the area, in both cases man-made grassy clearings.

© 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.