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

Pyrgus communis Hübner, [1819]
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 #5625)

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Distribution of Pyrgus communis in British Columbia.
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Species Information


The wing pattern is similar to that of other species in the genus, except that the white spots are noticeably larger, especially the median row of the dorsal and ventral hindwing. Males lack the tibial tufts present in other members of the genus, causing several authors to speculate that the species should be in a separate genus. The Checkered Skipper is the same size as the Grizzled Skipper. The Checkered Skipper may be confused with Heliopetes ericetorum (Boisduval, 1852), which should eventually be recorded from the southern Okanagan. H. ericetorum is considerably larger.

Immature Stages

Scudder (1889b) described the immatures. The egg is white with 24 ribs. The mature larval head is shiny black with an overlay of short, brownish hairs. The first thoracic segment is slightly lighter than the head. The rest of the body is green with short, knobbed hairs. The dorsal stripe is white; the lateral stripes are indistinct. The pupa is dark green and heavily marked with dark reddish brown areas.


BC populations are the nominate subspecies. The TL of the species is central Alabama.

Genus Description

The name Pyrgus is derived from the Greek pyrgos, meaning a tower on a wall, a battlement. This presumably refers to the checkered terminal cilia on the edges of the wings (Emmet 1991). The common name "checkered skippers" refers to the "checkerboard" black and white pattern of the wings. Holland (1898) is responsible for the common name of the genus.

This genus is structurally similar to Erynnis and Pholisora, with rounded wing tips, short discal cell, inconspicuous antennal tips, and porrect palpi. The genus Pyrgus is distinguished by the checkered black and white wing pattern, as mentioned above. In England they are referred to as "grizzled skippers." A closely related genus, Heliopetes, has been recorded from just south of the BC border, in the Washington Okanogan. It has the same black and white colours but they are not arranged in as obvious a checkered pattern. The genus Pyrgus is Holarctic and Neotropical, with at least 19 Palearctic species, 1 Holarctic species, 3 Nearctic species, and 8 Neotropical species. Three species are found in British Columbia. Larval feeding and oviposition have been observed on Potentilla species and various Malvaceae. Evans (1953) provides the only comprehensive review of American species. In our area, examination of genitalia is not necessary to determine species.


In BC the adults are on the wing from mid-May to mid-June, and again in August. There are two broods per year. Further south this species can be trivoltine. Eggs are laid on the upper surface of leaves. It is not known for certain which stage hibernates, but it is likely the mature larva. There are foodplant records from many members of the family Malvaceae, including garden hollyhocks (Scudder 1889b).


The Checkered Skipper is found in the Okanagan and the Kootenays in xeric areas favouring the foodplants.



The species is found from southeastern BC east to MB in CAN, east to MA in the USA, and south to the southern USA, where it is replaced by the related species P. albescens Plotz. The Checkered Skipper has been recorded in the Peace River region of AB but not in the Peace River region of BC.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS3BlueNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

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: 2020-07-09 5:50:15 PM]
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