Butterflies of Mexico, USA & Canada
Sonoran Skipper
Polites sonora  SCUDDER, 1872
subfamily - HESPERIINAE
Polites sonora, South Fork valley, Kern, California, USA  Frank Model
In the Americas there are 2365 known species of Hesperiidae. These are split into 5 subfamilies i.e. Pyrrhopyginae, Heteropterinae, Megathyminae, Pyrginae and Hesperiinae. The Hesperiines of which there are about 1040 species, are known as Grass Skippers because their larvae feed on grasses, bamboos and other monocotyledons.
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, and in vibex it is pale yellow and spotted with brown. In most of the remaining species the unh is pale brown with white or yellow spots.
Polites sonora has a patchy distribution in the western states of the USA.
This species is found in damp meadows, and in large glades in coniferous forest. It is often found in the vicinity of small streams.
The egg is pale yellow and is laid singly on dry grasses or other dead vegetation in the vicinity of the larval foodplants. The larva is translucent greenish-brown with a dark dorsal stripe and a black head. It feeds on sedges Carex ( Cyperaceae ), and lives in a shelter made from blades folded and sealed with silk. It constructs a new shelter after each moult.
Adult behaviour
Males perch on sedges or flowers, ready to instantly dart up to investigate any passing insect. If a female sonora is encountered she is chased a short distance until she settles. The male then buzzes around her, wafting pheromones over her antennae to arouse her prior to copulation. Both sexes nectar at a wide variety of plants.


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