Mexico, USA & Canada
Family - HESPERIIDAE
Polites sonora, South Fork valley,
Kern, California, USA ©
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, 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.
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.
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