New Jersey Butterflies

Leonard's Skipper

Hesperia leonardus

Identification: Very small—FW ≥0.65". Sexes similar below. Above: Male FW has smallish orange field crossed by black stigma, plus several small orange spots in wide, dark trailing edge. Female FW is blackish-brown with several blocky orange spots. HW in both sexes is dark with yellowish or orange markings that mirror chevron on underside. Below: HW varies from bright rusty to chestnut, with a bold postmedian chevron of blocky white or cream-colored spots and a single central spot. Similar skippers: No other NJ skipper is this large and rust-colored.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Classified as Special Concern in NJ. Rare and very local.

NJ Range Map-Leonard's Skippert

Habitat: Grasslands dominated by Little Bluestem Grass. Also found on ridgetop balds that have patches of Little Bluestem. Readily visits gardens with flowers such as Butterfly Bush and Brazilian Verbena.

Flight Period: One brood from mid-August to late September. Extreme dates: North Jersey 8/8—9/28; South Jersey 8/24—9/23.

Larval Food Plants: Mainly Little Bluestem Grass (Schizachyrium scoparium), and other bluestems and beardgrasses (Andropogon).

Overwintering Stage: First-instar caterpillar.

Best Locations: High Point SP, Sunrise Mt., Raccoon Ridge, Flatbrookville, formerly Manumuskin River Preserve (but not observed since 2009).

Comments: One of our rarest resident grass-skippers that has apparently recently disappeared from several South Jersey locations. From 1-5 individuals are seen at most North Jersey sites.

Leonard's Skipper

Male, Fredon Twp., Sussex Co., NJ 8/23/09, on Butterfly Bush.

Leonard's Skipper

Female, Flatbrookville, Sussex Co., NJ, 8/23/12, on thistle.

Leonard's Skipper

Fredon Twp., Sussex Co., NJ, 8/17/09, on Brazilian Verbena.