There are more than 3,500 species of skippers in the world. Their common name of “skipper” arose from their darting, fast flight. When at rest, the wings are usually angled upwards or spread out, not folded together. The forewings are pointed. In most species the wings are orange, black, white, gray or brown, but they may have bright colors on the drab background. They have large eyes. Three pairs of walking legs are present. Adult skippers feed on nectar, and some take nutrients from animals’ solid wastes.
Unless otherwise noted, images © Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Images may not be used in any other format without the written permission of the photographer. Moths and butterflies are not shown in equal proportion to actual size.
Peck’s skipper (Polites coras) Photo © Illinois Department of Natural Resources
The wingspan of Peck’s skipper is seven-eighths to one inch. The upperside of the wings is brown with orange patches. The orange areas are smaller in females than in males. The underside of the wings has the same type of pattern as seen on the upperside, but the colors are lighter.
Peck’s skipper is found statewide in open areas. Adults are present from May through October. Adults feed on nectar. Larvae eat grasses. Two broods are produced annually.
silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus)
The wingspan of the silver-spotted skipper ranges from about one and one-half to two and one-half inches. The upperside of the wings is brown, and the forewing has a light gold band. The underside of the forewings also shows a light gold band. The underside of the hindwings has a large, bright, irregularly shaped silver spot.
This species may be seen statewide in open areas, brushy habitats and open woods. The adult is present from April through October. Adults feed on nectar. The larval hosts include black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) and many other plant species. Two to three generations are produced annually.