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

Atalopedes campestris Scudder, 1872
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
Photo of species

© Jacy (JC) Lucier  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #13752)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Atalopedes campestris in British Columbia
Details about map content are available here.

Species Information


Sachem males can be separated from similar species by the presence of a large black spot surrounding the stigma. This makes the centre of the dorsal forewing appear to be a large, square black area. Females have a translucent spot in the centre of the forewing that is not found in other BC skippers. In both sexes, the ground colour of the ventral hindwing is a tweedy green. The Sachem is most likely to be seen nectaring on garden composites in association with the Woodland Skipper, and is easy to overlook.

Immature Stages

In New England the egg is white and, according to Scudder (1889b), broad and short. The head of the mature larva is black, and the body is dark fuscous green, covered with dark tubercles, each with a short, fulvous hair. In California larvae, the hairs are black and the larvae have a mid-dorsal dark greenish brown line. The pupa has a white spot near the eye (Comstock 1929).


The three stray BC specimens presumably belong to the nominate subspecies, A.c. campestris; TL: Sacramento, CA (Emmel et al. 1998a). Other migrant species that breed only east of the Rocky Mountains are known to occasionally reach southeastern BC, however, such as the Variegated Fritillary, Euptoieta claudia (Cramer, [1775]). Thus the stray BC specimen records could be the eastern subspecies.

Genus Description

Atalopedes may be derived from the Greek words atalus (delicate) and pedes (on foot) - delicate walking. When the genus was first described, however, it contained only the species campestris, which could not be characterized as delicate. There does not appear to be a common name for the genus. Atalopedes is a small Neotropical genus with only three species. The species recorded from British Columbia is a rare migrant.


In its breeding range, the Sachem has three generations per year. In BC adults have been seen from late July to late September. Of the known native grass foodplants (Opler and Krizek 1984), Digitaria (crabgrass), Cynodon dactylon (Bermuda grass), and Eleusine indica (goosegrass) occur in BC. So far there is no evidence that the species breeds in the province.


The Sachem has been recorded three times in BC: in 1937 at Jesmond by J.K. Jacob; in 1953 at Blackwall, Manning Provincial Park, by J.E.R. Martin; and in 1960 north of Creston by D.F. Hardwick. These records represent rare migrant individuals. The species had not been known in WA up to the mid-1980s (Leighton 1946), when it began turning up in extreme southern WA, especially the Tri-Cities area at the confluence of the Columbia and Snake rivers. The Tri-Cities area had been collected extensively in the 1950s and 1960s (JHS) without this species being seen. In eastern WA the habitat consists of disturbed areas and lawns.



The Sachem occurs in continuous breeding populations from central CA east to FL and north to southern IL and VA. It has been recorded north as temporary populations or as strays in all US states except ID and MT. The BC specimens represent the only authentic Canadian records except for a temporary breeding colony established in southern ON in 1968 (Riotte 1992).

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeSNAAccidentalNot Listed
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) 2021. 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: 2024-06-15 12:38:40 PM]
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