E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Polites sonora Scudder, 1872
Sonora Skipper
Family: Hesperiidae (Skippers)
Species account authors: Crispin Guppy and Jon Shepard.
Extracted from Butterflies of British Columbia
The Families of Lepidoptera of BC
Introduction to the Butterflies of BC

© Norbert Kondla  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #74050)

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Distribution of Polites sonora in British Columbia.
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Species Information


The Sonora Skipper can be distinguished from other Polites species by the crisp appearance of the pale median line on the ventral hindwing and the uniform darker ground colour of the rest of the ventral hindwing.

Immature Stages

Newcomer (1967b) described some of the immature stages. The egg is round and light green. The third instar larva is 5 mm long, grey green, with many fine black scales.


The BC populations are the nominate subspecies, P.s. sonora (TL: Sierra Nevada, CA). The Rocky Mountain subspecies has not been recorded near BC.

Genus Description

The name Polites is from Polites, a son of Priam of Troy and Hecuba. Polites was a swift runner, and perhaps Scudder meant that members of the genus were swift fliers.

The genus Polites is Nearctic, occurring from northern Mexico to southern Canada. The 12 species (MacNeill 1993) are well represented in British Columbia, where six species occur. A seventh species, Polites mardon (W.H. Edwards, 1881), occurs just south, in the Puget Trough of Washington, and is one of the few possible species that did not colonize Vancouver Island.


The few adults that have been observed were all flying in July. The Sonora Skipper presumably overwinters as an immature larva. The foodplant is suspected to be Festuca idahoensis, and Newcomer (1967b) reared it in captivity on this grass.


The Sonora Skipper reaches its extreme northern limit in the Hope Mountains, the only part of the Cascade/Sierra Mountains to extend into BC. It is found on dry grassy slopes along the Similkameen River drainage, especially near Keremeos.



The Sonora Skipper occurs from the Hope Mountains of BC south to southern CA, northern AZ, and CO.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS1S2RedNAR (Nov 2016)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2019. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2020-05-28 7:00:49 PM]
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