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Family Hesperiidae | Subfamily Hesperiinae | Previous | Next

Woodland Skipper
Ochlodes sylvanoides (Boisduval, 1852)

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Diagnosis: Both sexes are tawny orange, with dark borders extending into the ground colour between the veins. The males have a black stigma and a dark brown patch just beyond the end of it. In females the borders are a little wider and darker, and there are two dark patches in the area of the male stigma. The underside is highly variable, from yellowish to orange brown, with the medial band of spots yellowish and distinct. Wingspan: 22 to 29 mm.

Subspecies: There are six named subspecies, but only two are found in Canada: the nominate subspecies sylvanoides, in British Columbia and southwestern Alberta, and subspecies napa, which is slightly larger and lighter beneath, on the Prairies.

Range: The Woodland Skipper occurs throughout the western U.S., and in extreme southwestern Saskatchewan, southern Alberta, and southern British Columbia north to Cedarvale and central Vancouver Island.

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Similar Species: This species is similar to the Long Dash Skipper (Polites mystic), but the brown border of the forewings above is dark, sharply defined, and somewhat zigzagged where it meets the paler median shading. In mystic the border is paler, not zigzagged, and blends gradually into the paler median shade. [compare images]

Early Stages: The larva is pale green, with a dark dorsal line and yellowish lateral line, or yellowish with seven blackish lines. The head is cream with black on each side and a black stripe on the front (Scott, 1986). Foodplants are many species of grasses.

butterfly image
Woodland Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides sylvanoides), pupa. J.B. Tatum

Abundance: The Woodland Skipper is common over most of its range.

Flight Season: Ochlodes sylvanoides flies from June to September in Canada, with one or possibly two generations per year. There are two or more broods farther south.

Habits: This skipper is found in virtually every kind of open habitat, including sagebrush and woodland 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.


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Date Modified: 2010-05-31