Leonard's Skipper Butterfly
(Hesperia leonardus)

Interesting facts:
Like many other butterflies, the Leonard's skipper male has scent scales on its wings. These scales are made of the same substance (chitin) as the outer skeleton. They are modified hairs that give out an odor that attracts females.

The Leonard's skipper resembles a moth with its wide, feathery body and brown coloration.

• male has large dark wings (22-36 mm. wingspread) with a red-orange upper surface. There are wide dark borders on the wings. The hind wings are brick red with off-white spots arranged in a band.
• female is dark brown with orange spots on both sets of wings.
• eggs are 1.3 mm. and greenish-white.
• first larva is cream-colored with a reddish-brown head.
• mature larva has a black head with cream patches and two vertical cream stripes on its face.
• pupa is brown and green.

Habitat and behavior:
Leonard's skipper lays its eggs in grassy areas, so llok for it in prairie remnants and meadows. It flies in August and September. Males mate with females near nectar plants; the female scatters eggs near the host plants (grasses); the larvae live in and feed on the grass leaves, then hibernate. The adults fly from August through October.

The larva eat:

• switch grass (Panicum virgatum)
• little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
• love grass (Eragrostis alba)
• bent grass (Agrostis sp.)

The adults feed on the nectar of plants such as:

• thistles
• asters
• blazing star (Liatris sp.)
• teasels

Distribution and status:
Rare in various localities. Leonard's skipper is an eastern butterfly that is found from Canada to Alabama, and west as far as Minnesota and Missouri.

Location in Illinois:
This moth-like butterfly has been found in counties in western Illinois (Hancock, Mason, McDonough, and Schuyler counties), Vermillion County in eastern Illinois, and in Cook County (northeast). Other skippers can be found in other parts of the state.