Deciphering Butterflies: Golden Skippers

Deciphering Butterflies: Golden Skippers

These three skippers can be extremely difficult to identify if they only present the observer with a side view. If a dorsal view is available the Ottoe Skipper can easily be separated. Both the Ottoe and Arogos Skippers are rare prairie endemics, so most golden skippers encountered in urban areas and parks are likely Delaware Skippers.

Delaware Skipper (Anatrytone logan)

General Appearance – Medium sized skipper (1 – 1 11/16 inches), gold and black, lacking any light coloration. 

Range – Statewide 

Status – Common, found season long in multiple habitats. 

Dorsal – Predominately orange, veins and border blackdark wing margins narrow. with inner edge more clearly defined than in Arogos. Female more heavily marked with base of wings darkly suffused. 

Ventral – Universally gold in both sexes.

Delaware Skipper species page

Ottoe Skipper (Hesperia ottoe)

General Appearance – Medium sized skipper (1 1/4 – 1 11/16 inches), predominately golden with some brown and white markings. 
Range – Statewide, but most records are from the center of the state. 
Status – Rare in higher quality mixed grass prairies flying in a single mid summer brood in July. 
Dorsal – Strongly dimorphic. Males have a bold black stigma on the gold forewing while females are more yellowish and have cream spots. Wing margins on both sexes broadly suffused with brown. 
Ventral – Predominately gold. Occasional individuals may have a faint row of cream spots on the hindwing.

Ottoe Skipper species page

Arogos Skipper (Atrytone arogos)

General Appearance – medium sized (1 1/8 – 1 7/16 inches) gold and brown skipper. 
Range – “Statewide”, but unreported from large areas. 
Status – Rare, found only in higher quality tall/mixed grass prairies. Numbers peak in early-mid summer. There are occasional records from late August. 
Dorsal – Yellow/gold basally, veins not blackened. Borders brown, wider than in Delaware, inner edge not clearly defined. No stigma in males. Brown areas more widespread in females. 
Ventral – Golden, immaculate, or nearly so.

Arogos Skipper species page