Butterflies and Moths of North America

collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera

Arctic Skipper
Carterocephalus palaemon (Pallas, 1771)


Family: Hesperiidae
Subfamily: Hesperiinae
Identification: Upperside is black with squarish orange spots. Underside of the forewing is orange with black spots; underside of hindwing is red-orange with cream spots outlined in black.
Wing Span: 1 - 1 1/4 inches (2.5 - 3.2 cm).
Life History: Adults rest with their wings closed, but bask with hindwings open wide and forewings open to about 45 degrees. To find receptive females, males perch on low vegetation and sometimes patrol in openings. Females lay eggs singly on leaves of the host plant. Caterpillars live and feed within nests of silked-together leaves; fully-grown caterpillars overwinter in their nests and then pupate within them in the spring.
Flight: One brood from May-July.
Caterpillar Hosts: Grasses including purple reedgrass (Calamagrostis purpurascens) in California, and bromes (Bromus) in Europe; probably others.
Adult Food: Nectar from flowers including iris in California.
Habitat: Glades and openings in heavily forested woods, moist meadows, and streamsides.
Range: Central Alaska south to central California, south in the Rocky Mountains to northwest Wyoming, east across the Great Lakes states to New York and New England. Eurasia.
Conservation: Not usually required.
NCGR: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management Needs: None reported.
Comments: NULL