Pepper and Salt Skipper (Amblyscirtes hegon) (Scudder, 1864)

Diagnosis: Amblyscirtes hegon is a small dark brown skipper with a curved line of small white spots extending from the costa of the forewing, and brown and white checkered fringes on both wings. Beneath, the hindwing and the tip of the forewing are grey, with a slightly greenish tinge that is most noticeable in fresh specimens; the forewing spots are repeated on the underside and there is a faint chain of linked pale spots on the hindwing underside. Wingspan: 18 to 22 mm.

Range: The Pepper and Salt Skipper flies throughout most of the eastern U.S. and southern Canadafrom Nova Scotia to Manitoba, north to Bathurst, New Brunswick, Ile-d'Orléans, Quebec, Quibell, Ontario, and Singush Lake, Manitoba. There is a single record from Armit, Saskatchewan.

Similar Species: The Common Roadside Skipper (A. vialis) is similar and often flies with hegon in the east; it can be distinguished by its white forewing spots, which are restricted to the costa, and by its dark unmarked hindwing underside. In the west, Oslar's Roadside Skipper (A. oslari) and the Simius Roadside Skipper (A. simius) lack the white spots on the forewing. [compare images]

Early Stages: The larva is pale green white with a dark green dorsal stripe and white lateral stripes; the head is dark brown with paler vertical stripes and bands. Foodplants are grasses, including Kentucky Blue Grass (Poa pratensis), Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans and S. secundum), and, in the U.S., Spikegrass (Uniola latifolia).

Abundance: The Pepper and Salt Skipper is uncommon throughout its Canadian range.

Flight Season: Amblyscirtes hegon flies in late May and June, with one generation per year.

Habits: This species is often seen nectaring on honeysuckle and lilac, in wooded areas, but never in large numbers. It can also be found sipping moisture from roadside puddles.

© 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.