Pawnee Skipper

Hesperia leonardus pawnee (Dodge, 1874)

Family: Hesperiidae

Status: Uncommon to common resident in the western half of the state

NENHP Ranking: Not listed

Range: With the exception of the southeastern corner the Pawnee Skipper has been found statewide, albeit not recently in the eastern half. East of the 100th meridian the species generally becomes scarce. In eastern Nebraska the species should be sought in the bluffs along the Missouri River or other high quality prairies.

Broods/Flight Times: One late summer flight from 17 August to 13 September in Nebraska.

Larval Hostplant(s): Grasses, primarily Andropogon scopariusA. gerardii and Bouteloua curtipendula

Habitat: The species favors short to mixed grass prairies and is often common in western Nebraska.

Found at: Ash Hollow SHP, Niobrara Valley Preserve

Overwintering: As a young caterpillar

Similar Species:

Notes: Adults take nectar from Liatris, thistles, verbena, asters and sunflowers. When upland areas are arid adults have been found in wetlands on Joe-Pye weed and marsh marigold. A montane subspecies ( montana) flies in a restricted area in the South Platte River valley in Colorado. Subspecies pawnee ranges from the foothills of eastern Montana and eastern Colorado east to Minnesota and Nebraska. After a narrow blend zone in western Iowa, subspecies l. leonardus is found ranging to the east coast. Nebraska specimens are typical pawnee (the type locality is Dodge County, Nebraska) although some specimens from western portions of the state resemble subspecies montana and specimens from the northeastern portion of the state have the potential to blend with eastern l. leonardus.

Pawnee skipper butterfly on curly cup gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa). The Nature Conservancy’s Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska, Photo by Chris Helzer
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Pawnee Skipper, Ash Hollow SHP, Photo by Jonathan Nikkila
Pawnee Skipper – female, dorsal
Pawnee Skipper – male, dorsal

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