New Jersey Butterflies

Broad-winged Skipper

Poanes viator

Identification: Small—FW 0.8" (but large for a grass-skipper). Sexes similar below. Above: Male FW dark, with orange cell-end spot, orange "bracelet," and a large, roughly boot-shaped orange mark with the rounded toe pointing outward toward a separate small orange mark (as though it were kicking a stone). Female FW is similar to male's, but marks are smaller and whitish. Central orange patch on male HW has scalloped trailing edge. Female HW has smaller orange patch that mirrors the ventral pattern. Below: HW usually yellowish- or rusty-brown with a thick, paler central streak that is often crossed by a vague or irregular patch or short spotband. Similar skippers: On the smaller Dion Skipper the HW below has 2 pale rays; the upper ray does not reach the trailing edge of the wing, and the rays are not crossed by other marks. Leonard's Skipper is also smaller, and has a sharply defined chevron on HW below. Aaron's Skipper (generally confined to vicinity of coastal marshes) is duller olive-brown on the HW below with a narrower streak not crossed by other marks.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Occurs throughout the state, but is more common on the Coastal Plain, particularly in Cape May and Cumberland counties. In North Jersey is found more locally, in association with stands of Common Reed.

NJ Range Map-Broad-winged Skipper

Habitat: Moist to wet stands of Common Reed. Will nectar in nearby meadows and gardens.

Flight Period: One brood from mid-June to late September, peaking in early to mid-July. Extreme dates: North Jersey 6/28—9/22; South Jersey 6/4—10/6.

Larval Food Plants: Common Reed (Phragmites australis) and Wild Rice (Zizania aquatica).

Overwintering Stage: Larva.

Best Locations: DeKorte SP, Thompson Park, Hyper Humus WMA, Hatfield Swamp, Bivalve salt marsh impoundments, CMBO CRE garden, Eldora Nature Preserve, Mannington Marsh.

Comments: Frequently perches vertically on reed stems. Often seen nectaring on Purple Loosestrife, which grows in wet habitats, often in association with Common Reed.



Broad-winged Skipper

Male, White Lake NRA, Warren Co., NJ, 8/11/07.


Broad-winged Skipper

Female, Walkill River NWR, Sussex Co., NJ, 7/29/04.


Broad-winged Skipper

Bergen Co., NJ, 7/24/10.


Broad-winged Skipper

DeKorte SP, Bergen Co., NJ, 7/8/12.


Saltmarsh Grasses

Photograph of a NJ saltmarsh with 3 species of butterfly host plants. In the foreground is Saltmarsh Cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) which may be a primary host for Saltmarsh Skipper and possibly Aaron's Skipper. In the middle distance is Tall or Big Cordgrass (S. cynosuroides) which is a host for Rare Skipper in NJ and Broad-winged Skipper. And the tall grass in the back is Common Reed (Phragmites australis) which is another host for Broad-winged Skipper.