Ottoe skipper

(Hesperia ottoe)

Conservation Status
Ottoe skipper
Photo by Scott Leddy
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N3N4 - Vulnerable to Apparently Secure

S1 - Critically Imperiled



Species in Greatest Conservation Need


Ottoe skipper is an early season branded skipper. It historically inhabited the mid-grass and tall grass prairies from the Great Plains east to southern Michigan and Arkansas. Once common, its numbers have been decimated due to habitat loss. It now occurs mostly on the Great Plains in small, scattered populations. Larvae feed in dry prairies on little bluestem, prairie dropseed, sideoats grama, and other grasses. Adults fly from mid-June to early August. They feed on flower nectar in dry prairies and nearby moist or wet prairies.

Adults are stout and have a wingspan of 1 to 111116 (29 to 43 mm). They are medium-sized skippers but large grass skippers.

The forewings are thin and angular. The upper side is bright orange with a broad, darker brown border. Near the middle there is a narrow area of black, specialized, scent scales (stigma). This is the “brand” that gives the genus its common name. There is a gray felty patch in the middle of the stigma but this is nearly impossible to see in the field. The forewing is otherwise unmarked. On the female the upper side of the forewing is brownish-orange. As with many skippers, there is a row of three small pale spots, the “wrist bracelet”, near the costal margin in the subapical area. There are also six pale squarish spots roughly forming a semicircle. The innermost spot is the largest and is translucent.

The hindwings are shorter and more rounded. The underside of the hindwing on both sexes is yellowish-orange. On the female there is a faint postmedian band of pale spots. On the male there are no spots.

The antennae are short and barred. Each antenna has a swelling (club) at the tip, and a pale, thin, hooked extension (apiculus) at the end of the club. There is not a white band below the club.




Wingspan: 1 to 111116 (29 to 43 mm)


Similar Species


Tall grass prairies




One generation per year: mid-June to early August






Life Cycle




Larva Hosts


Little bluestem, prairie dropseed, sideoats grama, and other grasses


Adult Food


Flower nectar


Distribution Map


6, 21, 24, 29, 30, 75.







Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  


Papilionoidea (butterflies)  


Hesperiidae (skippers)  


Hesperiinae (grass skippers)  




Hesperia (branded skippers)  

Skippers have traditionally been placed in their own superfamily Hesperioidea because of their morphological similarity. Recent phylogenetic analysis (Kawahara and Breinholt [2014]) suggests that they share the same common ancestor as other butterfly families, and thus belong in the superfamily, Papilionoidea.






Common Names


Ottoe skipper











A thin hooked or pointed extension at the ends of each antenna just beyond the club of all skippers except skipperlings (subfamily Heteropterinae).


Costal margin

The leading edge of the forewing of insects.



In plants, the portion of the female part of the flower that is receptive to pollen. In Lepidoptera, an area of specialized scent scales on the forewing of some skippers, hairstreaks, and moths. In other insects, a thickened, dark, or opaque cell on the leading edge of the wing.






Visitor Photos

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Scott Leddy


Ottoe skipper female

    Ottoe skipper      








Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Ottoe Skipper (Hesperiidae: Hesperia ottoe) on Leaf
Carl Barrentine

Aug 3, 2010

Photographed at the Agassiz NWR, Minnesota (02 August 2010).




Visitor Sightings

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  Scott Leddy
early August 2020

Location: Rushford area, Fillmore County

Ottoe skipper







Created: 5/21/2021

Last Updated:

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