New Jersey Butterflies

Common Checkered-Skipper

Pyrgus communis

Identification: Very small—1.1". Above: FW and HW black, with many, mostly rectangular, white spots that give a checkered appearance; spots form a white band across mid-HW. Female, with smaller white spots, appears noticeably darker than male. Male (as well as some fresh females) has bluish, hairlike scales on body and inner wings. Wing fringes are white with blackish checks. Below: FW and HW creamy-white with dark markings, including 2 jagged-edged bands across HW.

NJ Status and Distribution: Nonresident, immigrating from the south each year (although recurrence at some locations suggests at least occasional overwintering and formation of semipermanent colonies). Uncommon, though occasionally locally common.

NJ Range Map-Common Checkered-Skipper

Habitat: Mainly open, sunny, disturbed areas, often with bare soil, in the vicinity of food plants. Often in the vicinity of agricultural fields.

Flight Period: Three broods, May to November. Extreme dates: North Jersey 4/23—11/16; South Jersey 4/28—11/25.

Larval Food Plants: Dwarf Mallow, or Cheeses (Malva neglecta), Hollyhock (Althea), Velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti), and other plants in the Mallow family.

Overwintering Stage: Larva.

Best Locations: White Lake NRA, Thompson Park, Kittatinny Valley SP, Great Meadows.

Comments: Although strikingly marked and obvious at rest, this small, low-flying butterfly looks like a grayish moth in flight, and might be overlooked.



Common Checkered-Skipper

Male, Kittatinny Valley SP, Sussex Co., NJ, 8/8/10.


Common Checkered-Skipper

Female, White Lake NRA, Warren Co., NJ, 8/22/06.


Common Checkered-Skipper

Norfolk Botanical Gardens, VA, 9/30/11.