New Jersey Butterflies

Zabulon Skipper

Poanes zabulon

Identification: Very small—FW ≥0.6". Above: Male FW mainly orange-yellow with dark trailing border, and a squarish dark mark just touching dark border near FW tip. HW has orange central patch surrounded by dark borders; orange patch sometimes extends as a point toward outer HW angle. Female FW is dark brown above with large, central glassy spots and a pale FW "bracelet." Below: Male HW with reddish-brown base and trailing border enclosing a large, yellow patch with several reddish-brown spots, and a small yellow spot near the shoulder. Female HW and FW rich, dark, reddish-brown with frosting on outer margins and a white outline along leading edge of HW. Similar skippers: Hobomok male and normal female have wider dark borders on FW above and dark veins crossing the orange on both wings Male has an S-shaped mark near FW tip and female has brown base to FW. Below, yellow patch on Hobomok HW lacks reddish-brown spots. Pocahontas form female above lacks large, glassy spots in FW and has an isolated spot along leading edge of FW. Clouded Skipper resembles Zabulon female, but lacks white line along outer curve of HW below; occurs only in South Jersey. Peck's Skipper is smaller, and lacks rusty-brown spots in yellow patch on HW below.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Widespread and common throughout.

NJ Range Map-Zabulon Skipper

Habitat: Woodland edges and openings. Readily visits gardens.

Flight Period: Two broods from mid-May to mid-October with peaks in June and again in August. Extreme dates: North Jersey 4/30—10/17; South Jersey 4/21—10/21.

Larval Food Plants: Grasses, including Purpletop (Tridens flavus) and love grasses (Eragrostis).

Overwintering Stage: Undetermined, but probably larva.

Best Locations: Appalachian Trail Lands, Willowwood Arboretum, Whittingham WMA, Riverwinds Scenic Trail.

Comments: A little butterfly that darts out at you from the edge of forest clearing is almost certainly a Zabulon Skipper. If you take the time to watch this pugnacious little fellow you will see that it investigates just about everything that flies by—even potential predators like birds and dragonflies. If the intruder is not a female it quickly goes back to its same perch—usually a leaf in the sun. If it is female an aerial "dance" may ensue that could outlast your patience.

Zabulon Skipper

Male, Convent Station, Morris Co., NJ, 7/28/11.

Zabulon Skipper

Female, Glenhurst Meadows, Somerset Co., NJ, 7/31/12.

Zabulon Skipper

Male, Convent Station, Morris Co., NJ, 8/2/11

Zabulon Skipper

Female, Bamboo Brook Outdoor Edu. Ctr., Morris Co., NJ, 8/15/06, on Spotted Knapweed.