New Jersey Butterflies

Sachem

Atalopedes campestris

Identification: Very small—FW ≥0.6". Female generally larger than male. Above: Male FW displays strikingly large, squarish dark stigma in an orange field. Female FW is brown, with orange along the leading edge, pale "bracelet," two large, glassy, squarish central marks, and two isolated pale spots toward the FW tip. Male HW has blurry orange field with dark veins. Female HW with dark borders and dark veins across orange patch that mirrors ventral chevron. Below: HW of male yellowish-brown with blotchy pale markings enclosing a rather faint, square, darkish mark along the inner edge. Female HW brownish with a vaguely to sharply defined whitish chevron. Similar skippers: No other male grass-skipper has the bold, square stigma of a Sachem. A worn male seen only from below may be puzzling if the square mark on HW edge is very faint or obscured by wear—so try to see that stigma! Cobweb, Indian, and Long Dash have chevrons on HW below, but these species fly only in spring/early summer.

NJ Status and Distribution: Nonresident. Generally a summer immigrant from the south, although possibly resident some years. Common to superabundant in southern counties, especially near the coast. Increasingly common in Central and North Jersey.

NJ Range Map-Sachem

Habitat: Dry, grassy, disturbed fields. Attracted to garden flowers.

Flight Period: One or more broods from July to late October, peaking in September. Extreme dates: North Jersey 5/8—11/30; South Jersey 3/27—12/4.

Larval Food Plants: Crabgrass (Digitaria), Bermuda Grass (Cynodon dactylon), and other grasses.

Overwintering Stage: Larva (but generally does not overwinter in NJ).

Best Locations: Higbee Beach WMA, Cattus Island CP, Sandy Hook GNRA, Big Brook Park, Thompson Park, Harold N. Peek Preserve, Lizard Tail Swamp Preserve, Cape May Bird Observatory CRE garden.

Comments: In September 1998, a huge irruption year, one field in Cape May County was estimated to harbor thousands of Sachems, to the point where it was difficult to not step on some with every footfall.



Sachem

Male, Metuchen, Middlesex Co., NJ, 7/18/07, on Black-eyed Susan.


Sachem

Female, Fredon Twp., Sussex Co., NJ, 9/6/08.


Sachem

Male, Lord Stirling Park, Somerset Co., NJ, 8/16/10, on New York Ironweed.


Sachem

Female, Sandy Hook NRA, Monmouth Co., NJ, 8/26/07, on Butterfly Bush.