New Jersey Butterflies

Tawny-edged Skipper

Polites themistocles

Identification: Tiny—FW ~0.5". Sexes similar below. Above: Male: Bright orange extends from leading edge of FW to thick, non-tapering stigma, which is fairly parallel to leading edge of FW, and separates orange along leading edge from dark brown remainder of wing (which includes a rectangular orange spot at outer end of stigma). Female FW is overall dark brown, sometimes with a tawny leading edge, and includes 3 pale "bracelet" spots" toward wingtip and 2 or 3 conspicuous pale spots in center of wing. In both sexes HW is unmarked brown, sometimes with a paler center in female. Below: FW and HW dull brownish to orange, HW sometimes with a faint band of pale postmedian spots. Dull brown HW contrasts with orangey leading edge of FW, especially in fresh individuals. Similar skippers: Crossline is noticeably larger, and usually shows less contrast below between FW and HW; spotband on HW below usually present and sometimes quite conspicuous. On male FW above, stigma tapers toward body, does not parallel edge of wing, and lacks rectangular orange spot at end.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Widespread and fairly common, though less so on the Coastal Plain.

NJ Range Map-Tawny-edged Skipper

Habitat: Open, usually moist, grassy areas. Readily visits gardens.

Flight Period: Two broods from mid-May—early October with peaks in late May and August in the north, and in early June—mid-July and late July—September in the south. Extreme dates: North Jersey 5/10—10/14; South Jersey 5/8—10/15.

Larval Food Plants: Low-growing panic grasses (Panicum), crabgrass (Digitaria), bluegrasses (Poa).

Overwintering Stage: Pupa.

Best Locations: Schooley's Mountain CP, Willowwood Arboretum, Tatum Park, Duke Farms, Big Brook Park, Kittatinny Valley SP, Riverwinds Scenic Trail.

Comments: Not all individuals can be confidently separated from Crossline Skipper.

Tawny-edged Skipper

Male, Fredon Twp., Sussex Co., NJ, 7/23/10.

Tawny-edged Skipper

Female, Lakehurst, Ocean Co., NJ, 6/18/05.

Tawny-edged Skipper

Walkill NWR, Sussex Co., NJ, 5/23/04.