Mexico, USA & Canada
Family - HESPERIIDAE
subfamily - PYRGINAE
Tribe - PYRGINI
Pyrgus albescens female, Mount
Pinos, Ventura, California, USA
© Frank Model
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.