|scientific name Pyrgus communis |
common name Common Checkered Skipper
Prairie grassland, also occasionally found in boreal sand dunes and the aspen parkland.
Two broods, the first appearing in June and the second in August.
Superficially similar to the other checkered skippers, but communis can immediately be separated by its large white markings (more white than black), and the paler, chalky underside. This skipper and the Small Checkered Skipper (P. scriptura) are the only Pyrgus skippers likely to be encountered in the prairie grasslands. These two can easily be separated by the broader white markings and larger size of P. communis (wingspan 25- 30 mm).
The egg is pale green (Bird et al. 1995). The larvae, which overwinter when mature, vary in colour from yellowish white to brown, with a dark dorsal and brown and white lateral stripes (Layberry et al. 1998). The body tapers towards the posterior (thickest in the middle) and is thickly covered with short whitish hairs; the head and first thoracic segment is blrown-black (McCabe & Post 1977). The pupae are brown, with some green towards the head (Bird et al. 1995). Adults prefer sparsely vegetated areas and will often land on bare ground, and males will set up and patrol small territories (McCabe & Post 1977).
Opler (1999) indicates our populations may be the result of periodic colonizations, but all evidence suggests that Peace River and prairie populations are breeding residents.
Not of concern.
The larval foodplant is unknown in Alberta; mallows (Malva and Sphaeralcea) have been reported as hosts elsewhere (Layberry et al. 1998). The only native mallow that occurs throughout the province in suitable habitat is Scarlet Mallow (Sphaeralcea coccina) (Moss 1992).
Occurs throughout most the contiguous United States, except southern Florida, California, Arizona and Texas (Opler 1999). In Canada, the Common Checkered Skipper occurs from southeastern BC to southern Manitoba, and extreme southern Ontario (Layberry et al 1998). The northernmost portion of its range is the disjunct population in the Peace River grasslands; there is also an isolated record from the vicinity of Ft. MacKay (Bird et al. 1995).
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