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

Pyrgus centaureae Hübner, [1819]
Checkeredskippers; Grizzled 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

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #11590)

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

Species Information


The dorsal forewing and hindwing have two rows of white spots. There is a basal spot on the dorsal hindwing that is much larger than in P. ruralis. Although this species is similar to P. ruralis, it is easily distinguished by its larger size and very different range and habitat.

Immature Stages



Southern populations are referable to subspecies loki Evans, 1953 (TL: Long Peak trail, CO). Northern populations are subspecies freija (Warren, [1924]) (TL: Labrador). P.c. loki has slightly larger white spots on both wings.

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.


The adults fly from late June to early August, depending on elevation and latitude. There is no evidence from adult flight period data to indicate that the species takes two years to develop, as suggested by Ferris and Brown (1981). Nielsen (1985) reported the Grizzled Skipper ovipositing on Fragaria virginiana in mid-May in Michigan. He found middle instar larvae in nests on Fragaria. They fed on the Fragaria, pupated by late summer, and overwintered as pupae. In Europe the species has been reared on Rubus chamaemorus. In BC both Rubus and Fragaria are potential foodplants.


The Grizzled Skipper ranges throughout BC, except for Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands, above timberline. In the north it also occurs below timberline. The lack of records from the central coast is probably an artifact of scant collecting in the area and the scarcity of the species everywhere in its range.



The Grizzled Skipper is Holarctic. It is found across arctic North America from AK to Labrador, except the high arctic, and south in the Rockies to NM. There is an isolated subspecies in the Appalachians.

Status Information

Scientific NameOrigin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
Pyrgus centaureaeNativeS5YellowNot Listed
Pyrgus centaureae freijaNativeS5YellowNot Listed
Pyrgus centaureae lokiNativeS5YellowNot 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: 2024-07-17 10:32:04 PM]
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