Peck’s skipper

(Polites peckius)

Peck’s skipper
Photo by John Shier
  Hodges #

4036

 
 
Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Peck’s skipper is a small, very common, grass skipper. It is 1 to 1¼ in length and has a wingspan of ¾ to 1¼. Females are slightly larger than males.

The wings are proportionately short and broadly triangular. The hindwing is distinctly rounded. The upperside of the hindwing is brown with a large, central, orange patch. The patch is broken by dark veins and appears as four or five postmedian spots. The underside is brown with a band of large orange spots at the base and a band of six large orange spots near the middle of the wing. The third spot from the outer margin is distinctly longer than the rest. This character is sometimes referred to with the mnemonic “Peck’s is a Pointer”, and can also be seen on the upperside. The basal and median spots are usually separated by dark veins. Occasionally, the bands run together and the veins between the spots are the same color as the spots. On these individuals, the wing underside appears mostly orange.

The upperside of the forewing is brown with an irregular row of orange rectangular spots: three small spots near the margin in the in the postmedial area, then two smaller spots in the subapical area, then three larger spots extending to the inner margin in the medial area. On the male, there is also a prominent, black, sinuous stigma, and an orange area between the stigma and the leading edge of the wing (costal margin). The underside is similarly colored. The female is darker and lacks the stigma.

The antennae are short and faintly striped. Each antenna has a black swelling (club) at the tip, and a pale, thin, hooked extension (apiculus) at the end of the club.

The caterpillar is about ¾ long and dirty brown with tiny pale spots. The thorax and abdomen are densely covered with moderately short hairs and have a dark stripe running down the middle. The breathing pore (spiracle) on the eighth abdominal segment is conspicuously enlarged. The head is very dark with a pair of indistinct white lines down the middle, and a short white bar between the eyes and between the mandibles. Behind the head there is a distinct black collar with a white front (anterior) margin. The preceding description could easily be made for all other Polites caterpillars. Long dash (P. mystic) has somewhat shorter hairs, crossline skipper (P. origenes) has very short hairs, and tawny-edged skipper (P. themistocles) has hairs so short that the caterpillar may appear glossy. Identification is best made by rearing them into adults.

Mature caterpillars are seen from early spring to late fall.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: 1 to 1¼

Wingspan: ¾ to 1¼

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

Long dash (Polites mystic) wing undersides are orangish-brown and less contrasting. The hindwing underside lacks the conspicuously long median spot. The orange spots on the upperside appear as more of a band than a “patch”.

Tawny-edged skipper (Polites themistocles) wings are darker. The hindwing lacks the orange patch.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Meadows, forest clearings, marshes, pastures, old fields, powerline right-of-ways, suburbs, and other open grassy areas near wetland edges.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Probably two broods in Minnesota: Late May through June and mid-August to late September

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Like all skippers, they have a rapid, darting flight. They tend to stay close to the ground.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

Males perch on low vegetation throughout the day waiting for passing females. The female lays pale green eggs singly on the foliage of host plants. Larvae make a shelter by rolling one leaf or tying adjacent leaves together with silk. They live in their shelters, exiting only at night to feed. Second brood larvae overwinter in their shelters as third, fourth, or fifth instar caterpillars and pupate in their shelters in the spring.

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

Rice cutgrass, and probably bluegrass, brome, and other grasses.

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Flower nectar from a wide variety of species

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

21, 24, 27, 29, 30, 75.

 
  4/16/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Very common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Neolepidoptera  
  Parvorder Heteroneura  
  No Rank Ditrysia  
  No Rank Obtectomera  
 

Superfamily

Papilionoidea (butterflies)  
 

Family

Hesperiidae (skippers)  
 

Subfamily

Hesperiinae (grass skippers)  
 

Tribe

Hesperiini  
 

Genus

Polites  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

Peck’s skipper (Polites peckius peckius)

Peck’s skipper (Polites peckius surllano)

 
       
 

Skippers have traditionally been placed in their own superfamily Hesperioidea because of their morphological similarity. Recent phylogenetic analysis (Kawahara and Breinholt [2014]) suggests that they share the same common ancestor as other butterfly families, and thus belong in the superfamily, Papilionoidea.

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

Peck’s skipper

yellow patch skipper

yellowpatch skipper

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Apiculus

A thin hooked or pointed extension at the ends of each antennae just beyond the club of all skippers except skipperlings (subfamily Heteropterinae).

 

Costal margin

The leading edge of the forewing of insects.

 

Instar

The developmental stage of arthropods between each molt; in insects, the developmental stage of the larvae or nymph.

 

Spiracle

A small opening on the surface of an insect through which the insect breathes.

 

Stigma

In plants, the portion of the female part of the flower that is receptive to pollen. In Lepidoptera, an area of specialized scent scales on the forewing of some skippers, hairstreaks, and moths. In other insects, a thickened, dark, or opaque cell on the leading edge of the wing.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

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Scott Leddy

 
    Peck’s skipper      
 

Alfredo Colon

 
    Peck’s skipper      
 

John Shier

 
 

This could be usefully added to the current pix as it shows the wing underside, unlike the present 2 pix.

 
    Peck’s skipper      
           
 

This pic was taken ... at the top of Barn Bluff (Red Wing). It illustrates some of the problems of identification for skippers.

 
    Peck’s skipper      
 

Margot Avey

 
 

Took it in my back yard St Louis Park, MN today. Looks like it has double wings!

 
    Peck’s skipper      
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

 

 
           
           

 

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Peck's Skipper
Cory Gregory
  Peck's Skipper  
     

 

slideshow

       
 
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Other Videos
 
  Peck's Skipper Butterfly
The Bird Feeder
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 13, 2016

This Peck’s Skipper hangs out at our Hendricks County, Indiana, home.

Please check out my other channel, kmarkdaniel, at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCenz4XGBX4UJWOBcsBa5iOA. It has videos of trains and interesting things.

 
  Peck's Skipper on Strawbery Leaf - May 29, 2015
Don Gagnon
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 1, 2015

Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius), Perched on Strawberry Leaf, Gagnon Wildlife Habitat, Somerset, Friday afternoon, Massachusetts, May 29, 2015, 1:46 PM - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 P1540748; 7.5 x 10 in. (180 dpi); 46 sec.

 
  Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius) Top View Working
Nature's Wild Things
 
   
 
About

Published on Mar 9, 2017

Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius)

Top View Working

Video 30 sec long 34% Speed - Audio

Cabarrus County, North Carolina

Photo Walk - 09-28-2016

 
  Peck's Skipper in Strawberry Patch - July 30, 2015
Don Gagnon
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 30, 2015

Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius), Strawberry Patch, Gagnon Wildlife Habitat, Somerset, Massachusetts, Thursday afternoon, July 30, 2015, 3:12 PM / 3:13 PM / 3:16 PM / 3:20 PM / 3:21 PM - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 02732 / 02733 / 02734 / 02735 / 02736; 1:44 min.

 
  Peck's Skipper nectaring Verbena - August 9, 2014
Don Gagnon
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 9, 2014

Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius), Nectaring Purpletop Vervain (Verbena bonariensis), near Water Garden, Gagnon Wildlife Habitat, Somerset, Massachusetts, Saturday midday, August 9, 2014, 12:10 PM - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 00418; 39 sec.

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this insect.

 
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Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Alfredo Colon
9/29/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

Peck’s skipper

 
  John Shier
8/10/2018

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan

This could be usefully added to the current pix as it shows the wing underside, unlike the present 2 pix.

Peck’s skipper

 
  Margot Avey
9/29/2017

Location: St. Louis Park, MN

Took it in my back yard St Louis Park, MN today. Looks like it has double wings!

Peck’s skipper

 
  John Shier
8/4/2017

Location: at the top of Barn Bluff (Red Wing)

It illustrates some of the problems of identification for skippers. The season of the year is about right for Pecks.

Peck’s skipper

 
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
 

 

 

 

 

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