Peck’s skipper

(Polites peckius)

Peck’s skipper
Photo by John Shier
  Hodges #


Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure


not listed


Peck’s skipper is a small, very common, grass skipper. It is 1 to 1¼ in length and has a wingspan of ¾ to 1¼. Females are slightly larger than males.

The wings are proportionately short and broadly triangular. The hindwing is distinctly rounded. The upperside of the hindwing is brown with a large, central, orange patch. The patch is broken by dark veins and appears as four or five postmedian spots. The underside is brown with a band of large orange spots at the base and a band of six large orange spots near the middle of the wing. The third spot from the outer margin is distinctly longer than the rest. This character is sometimes referred to with the mnemonic “Peck’s is a Pointer”, and can also be seen on the upperside. The basal and median spots are usually separated by dark veins. Occasionally, the bands run together and the veins between the spots are the same color as the spots. On these individuals, the wing underside appears mostly orange.

The upperside of the forewing is brown with an irregular row of orange rectangular spots: three small spots near the margin in the in the postmedial area, then two smaller spots in the subapical area, then three larger spots extending to the inner margin in the medial area. On the male, there is also a prominent, black, sinuous stigma, and an orange area between the stigma and the leading edge of the wing (costal margin). The underside is similarly colored. The female is darker and lacks the stigma.

The antennae are short and faintly striped. Each antenna has a black swelling (club) at the tip, and a pale, thin, hooked extension (apiculus) at the end of the club.

The caterpillar is about ¾ long and dirty brown with tiny pale spots. The thorax and abdomen are densely covered with moderately short hairs and have a dark stripe running down the middle. The breathing pore (spiracle) on the eighth abdominal segment is conspicuously enlarged. The head is very dark with a pair of indistinct white lines down the middle, and a short white bar between the eyes and between the mandibles. Behind the head there is a distinct black collar with a white front (anterior) margin. The preceding description could easily be made for all other Polites caterpillars. Long dash (P. mystic) has somewhat shorter hairs, crossline skipper (P. origenes) has very short hairs, and tawny-edged skipper (P. themistocles) has hairs so short that the caterpillar may appear glossy. Identification is best made by rearing them into adults.

Mature caterpillars are seen from early spring to late fall.




Total length: 1 to 1¼

Wingspan: ¾ to 1¼


Similar Species


Long dash (Polites mystic) wing undersides are orangish-brown and less contrasting. The hindwing underside lacks the conspicuously long median spot. The orange spots on the upperside appear as more of a band than a “patch”.

Tawny-edged skipper (Polites themistocles) wings are darker. The hindwing lacks the orange patch.


Meadows, forest clearings, marshes, pastures, old fields, powerline right-of-ways, suburbs, and other open grassy areas near wetland edges.




Probably two broods in Minnesota: Late May through June and mid-August to late September




Like all skippers, they have a rapid, darting flight. They tend to stay close to the ground.


Life Cycle


Males perch on low vegetation throughout the day waiting for passing females. The female lays pale green eggs singly on the foliage of host plants. Larvae make a shelter by rolling one leaf or tying adjacent leaves together with silk. They live in their shelters, exiting only at night to feed. Second brood larvae overwinter in their shelters as third, fourth, or fifth instar caterpillars and pupate in their shelters in the spring.


Larva Hosts


Rice cutgrass, and probably bluegrass, brome, and other grasses.


Adult Food


Flower nectar from a wide variety of species


Distribution Map



21, 24, 27, 29, 30, 75.




Very common



Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  


Papilionoidea (butterflies)  


Hesperiidae (skippers)  


Hesperiinae (grass skippers)  





Subordinate Taxa


Peck’s skipper (Polites peckius peckius)

Peck’s skipper (Polites peckius surllano)


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


Peck’s skipper

yellow patch skipper

yellowpatch skipper












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


Costal margin

The leading edge of the forewing of insects.



The developmental stage of arthropods between each molt; in insects, the developmental stage of the larvae or nymph.



A small opening on the surface of an insect through which the insect breathes.



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

    Peck’s skipper      

Alfredo Colon

    Peck’s skipper      

John Shier


This could be usefully added to the current pix as it shows the wing underside, unlike the present 2 pix.

    Peck’s skipper      

This pic was taken ... at the top of Barn Bluff (Red Wing). It illustrates some of the problems of identification for skippers.

    Peck’s skipper      

Margot Avey


Took it in my back yard St Louis Park, MN today. Looks like it has double wings!

    Peck’s skipper      





Peck's Skipper
Cory Gregory
  Peck's Skipper  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Peck's Skipper Butterfly
The Bird Feeder

Published on Sep 13, 2016

This Peck’s Skipper hangs out at our Hendricks County, Indiana, home.

Please check out my other channel, kmarkdaniel, at It has videos of trains and interesting things.

  Peck's Skipper on Strawbery Leaf - May 29, 2015
Don Gagnon

Published on Jun 1, 2015

Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius), Perched on Strawberry Leaf, Gagnon Wildlife Habitat, Somerset, Friday afternoon, Massachusetts, May 29, 2015, 1:46 PM - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 P1540748; 7.5 x 10 in. (180 dpi); 46 sec.

  Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius) Top View Working
Nature's Wild Things

Published on Mar 9, 2017

Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius)

Top View Working

Video 30 sec long 34% Speed - Audio

Cabarrus County, North Carolina

Photo Walk - 09-28-2016

  Peck's Skipper in Strawberry Patch - July 30, 2015
Don Gagnon

Published on Jul 30, 2015

Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius), Strawberry Patch, Gagnon Wildlife Habitat, Somerset, Massachusetts, Thursday afternoon, July 30, 2015, 3:12 PM / 3:13 PM / 3:16 PM / 3:20 PM / 3:21 PM - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 02732 / 02733 / 02734 / 02735 / 02736; 1:44 min.

  Peck's Skipper nectaring Verbena - August 9, 2014
Don Gagnon

Published on Aug 9, 2014

Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius), Nectaring Purpletop Vervain (Verbena bonariensis), near Water Garden, Gagnon Wildlife Habitat, Somerset, Massachusetts, Saturday midday, August 9, 2014, 12:10 PM - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70 00418; 39 sec.




Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this insect.

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  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

Peck’s skipper

  John Shier

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan

This could be usefully added to the current pix as it shows the wing underside, unlike the present 2 pix.

Peck’s skipper

  Margot Avey

Location: St. Louis Park, MN

Took it in my back yard St Louis Park, MN today. Looks like it has double wings!

Peck’s skipper

  John Shier

Location: at the top of Barn Bluff (Red Wing)

It illustrates some of the problems of identification for skippers. The season of the year is about right for Pecks.

Peck’s skipper







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