Butterflies of Mexico, USA & Canada
White Checkered Skipper
Pyrgus albescens  PLÖTZ, 1884
subfamily - PYRGINAE
Pyrgus albescens female, Mount Pinos, Ventura, California, USA © Frank Model
The subfamily Pyrginae are characterised by their habit of basking with wings outspread, compared to the half-open position favoured by the Hesperiinae. In North and South America 580 species are placed within the tribe Pyrgini.
There are about 50 known species in the cosmopolitan genus Pyrgus, which has representatives in  Europe and temperate Asia, as well as in North central and South America. The genus is instantly recognisable from the pattern of squarish white spots on a grizzled greyish ground colour, and by the conspicuous chequered fringes to the wings. All Pyrgus males have the basal half of the leading edge of the forewing folded back. Within the fold are hundreds of specialised wing scales called androconia, from which pheromones are disseminated to entice females into copulation.
The commonest and most widely distributed species in North America is communis which is found in southern Canada, throughout the USA and Central America, and south along the Andes to Peru.
Pyrgus albescens was formerly considered to be a subspecies of communis but is now regarded as a full species. It is restricted to California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and northern Mexico.
This species breeds in hot arid rocky areas of desert.
The egg is laid singly on the foodplant Sphaeralcea ambigua ( Malvaceae ). The larva is translucent bluish-green with fine whitish lateral and dorsal stripes. It lives within a flimsy shelter constructed by folding over a leaf and fastening it with a few strands of silk. After each moult it moves and builds another shelter.
Adult behaviour

Males are territorial, using stones or small fallen branches as perches from which they dart up to intercept females or to challenge other males. Both sexes visit a variety of flowers for nectar.


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