New Jersey Butterflies

Indian Skipper

Hesperia sassacus

Identification: Very small—FW 0.6". Sexes similar below. Above: Male FW has a fairly large orange field setting off a narrow but conspicuous stigma and a dark semicircular mark toward FW apex, a dark trailing border with jagged inner edges, and two small, isolated orange spots toward wingtip. HW with a vaguely defined central orange patch and relatively narrow dark borders. Female FW appears darker brown, with more-prominent dark markings in the orange field, and inner edges of dark trailing border are noticeably convex. Orange patch on female HW more sharply defined, and crossed by dark veins. Below: HW of both sexes yellowish- to brownish-orange with a paler chevron that is rather poorly defined in the male and more sharply defined in the female. Central spot of chevron projects rearward. Similar skippers: On Long Dash the central chevron spot on HW below does not project rearward, and orange patch on HW above is divided in two by a vague dark band.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Fairly common in North Jersey from Somerset County north but absent from the Coastal Plain.

NJ Range Map-Indian Skipper

Habitat: Grassy fields, wet or dry, with nectar sources. Attracted to garden flowers.

Flight Period: Flies only in spring, with one brood in May-June. Extreme dates: 5/6—6/30.

Larval Food Plants: Various grasses, such as Little Bluestem Grass (Schizachyrium scoparium), panic grasses (Panicum), crabgrass (Digitaria), and others.

Overwintering Stage: Larva.

Best Locations: Mountainside Park, Ramapo Mountain SF, Weldon Brook WMA, Wildcat Ridge WMA.

Comments: Likes to nectar at the flowers of blackberry (Rubus) shrubs.

Indian Skipper

Male, Wildcat Ridge WMA, Morris Co., NJ, 5/2/07.

Indian Skipper

Female, High Point SP, Sussex Co., NJ, 6/5/05, on hawkweed.

Indian Skipper

Mountainside Park, Morris Co., NJ, 5/15/10, on Blackberry.