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

Ochlodes sylvanoides Scudder, 1872
Woodland 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
Photo of species

© Rosemary Taylor  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #47982)

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

Species Information


The Woodland Skipper is most easily confused with the Long Dash Skipper, Polites mystic. The flight times of the two barely overlap, however, and their habitat choices are very different.

Immature Stages

Comstock (1929) described the mature larva. The head is black and the body buff yellow with seven black longitudinal stripes. Otherwise, the immatures of this very common species have not been described in the literature. G.A. Hardy (GAH) described the first instar larva as having a jet-black head and a pale, putty-coloured body.


The Woodland Skipper shows remarkable variation across BC and south in the United States. Scott (1981) attempted to double the number of recognized subspecies from three to six to accommodate this variation. The huge, nearly continuous breeding populations indicate that there is little if any barrier to gene flow, however, and that the variation in colour pattern represents only phenotypic responses to different climatic conditions, not genetically different subspecies. The type locality was restricted to near Beldon, Plumas Co., CA, by Emmel et al. (1998a).

Genus Description

The name Ochlodes is Greek for turbulent or unruly, from the swift, erratic flight of the members of this genus (Emmet 1991).

The genus is Holarctic, with five Nearctic species and four Palearctic species. Only one species has been recorded in BC, but habitat for a second species, O.yuma (W.H. Edwards, 1873), was historically present in the southern Okanagan (JHS).


The Woodland Skipper is by far the most abundant skipper throughout southern BC from late July until frost kills the adults. It is found nectaring at the flowers of many garden composites, especially marigolds. There is only one brood. Larvae are known to feed on grass but no specific species has ever been identified. GAH observed eggs being laid on 8 September. They hatched on 3 October and the larvae ate most of the chorion. The larvae did not feed on grasses. Presumably the Woodland Skipper hibernates as a first instar larva.


The Woodland Skipper is ubiquitous and very abundant across the southern fourth of BC below 1,000 m elevation. There are also populations in the lower Skeena drainage. It probably occurs along the coast between the Skeena drainage and the Lower Mainland, but that area is very poorly surveyed.



The Woodland Skipper is found from southern BC south to Baja California and NM.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS5YellowNot 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: 2023-12-06 7:22:05 PM]
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