Mexico, USA & Canada
Family - HESPERIIDAE
Polites draco, Castle Junction,
Alberta, Canada ©
In the Americas there are 2365 known species of
Hesperiidae. These are split into 5 subfamilies i.e. Pyrrhopyginae,
Heteropterinae, Megathyminae, Pyrginae and Hesperiinae.
Hesperiines of which there are about 1040 species, are known as
Grass Skippers because their larvae feed on grasses, bamboos and
There are 18
Polites species, variously distributed
from Canada to Argentina. The uppersides vary in ground colour from
dark earthy brown to bright fulvous according the species, and most
species are marked with suffused fulvous or white spots and streaks.
Males have a very prominent black diagonal streak of androconial
scales on the forewings.
The undersides are
quite variable, e.g. dictynna is plain
fulvous-yellow; the underside hindwing of
bittiae is pale brown with a broad buff band; in
vibex the unh is pale yellow and
spotted with brown, and in most of the remaining species the unh is
pale brown with white or yellow spots. Another 6 species, i.e.
norae, sabuleti and
draco, have very similar patterns of
prominent white spots as shown in the photo above.
has a patchy distribution, being found in Yukon and Alberta, and in
the Rocky Mountain states of the USA.
This species is
found in meadows, pastures and open grassland where there are
extensive patches of bare ground. It is often found in the vicinity
of small streams.
The egg is pale
greenish and is laid singly on the foodplant or on nearby soil or
dead vegetation. The larva feeds on unidentified grasses. The larva
of the closely related species sabuleti
feeds on Distichlis,
Agrostis and Festuca ( Poaceae
). It lives solitarily in a shelter constructed from grass blades
folded and sealed with silk, and constructs a new shelter after each
moult. Both species hibernate in the pupal stage within the final
Males perch on
stones or bare ground, ready to instantly dart up to intercept and
investigate any passing insect. When a female draco is encountered
she is chased a short distance until she settles among grasses, and
the male buzzes around her, wafting pheromones over her antennae to
arouse her prior to copulation. Both sexes nectar at a wide variety
of plants, favouring Asteraceae.