fiery skipper

(Hylephila phyleus)

Conservation Status
fiery skipper
Photo by Babette Kis
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure


not listed


Fiery skipper is a common, easily recognized, grass skipper. It occurs in North America and South America. In the United States it occurs from New Hampshire to Florida, west to South Dakota and California. It is one of just a few skippers that migrate north each year. It arrives in Minnesota usually in late August and September, but sometimes as early as late July. It does not survive the winter. It rarely migrates as far north as Lake Superior.

Fiery skipper is found in open areas, including meadows, fields, roadsides, gardens, and weedy lawns. Larvae feed on a variety of grasses, including Bermuda grass, crabgrass, and bent grass. Adults feed on flower nectar.

Adults are about 1 (25 mm) in length and have a 1 to 1¼ (25 to 31 mm) wingspan. Females are slightly larger than males. The antennae are knobbed and very short, less than half as long as the forewing.

On the male the upperside of the forewing is bright orangish-yellow or yellowish-orange with brown markings. The intensity of the spots is variable, from faint dull brown to sharp black. There is a narrow, very dark border on the outer margin with several narrow, elongated spots extending forward, making it appear toothed. Near the middle of the wing there is a large patch of brown, specialized, scent scales (stigma). There is a similar but smaller patch between the stigma and the wingtip. The upperside of the hindwing is similar but it has a broad band on the inner margin and a large patch on the leading edge (costal margin). The underside of both wings is orangish-yellow or yellowish-orange with several scattered small brown spots representing the medial, postmedial, and submarginal bands. This is a uniquely identifying feature. No other skipper in our area has this pattern on the underside of the hindwing.

The female is dark brown above with orangish-yellow or yellowish-orange spots. The postmedial band is a row of large rectangular spots. The spot in the middle extends toward and sometimes connects with a similar spot in the basal area. Together, the spots create an inward pointing “arrow”. There is also a row of three small spots, the “wrist bracelet”, near the costal margin in the subapical area. The underside of both wings is similar to the male.




Total length: about 1 (25 mm)

Wingspan: 1 to 1¼ (25 to 31 mm)


Similar Species


Meadows, fields, roadsides, gardens, weedy lawns




Late August to early October




Fiery skipper is a fast flier.


Life Cycle




Larva Food




Adult Food


Flower nectar


Distribution Map



4, 21, 24, 29, 30, 75, 82, 83.







Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  


Papilionoidea (butterflies)  


Hesperiidae (skippers)  


Hesperiinae (grass skippers)  


  Subtribe Hesperiina  



Subordinate Taxa


fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus eureka)

fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus muertovalle)

fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus phyleus)




Hylephila bucephalus

Hylephila hala

Papilio phyleus


Common Names


fiery skipper











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.






Fiery skipper, sachem, and whirlabout (which does not occur in Minnesota) are three orange skippers that are very common in the south and often appear together. Together they are referred to as the “wizards”, apparently because with their fast darting flight it requires a wizard to identify them in the field.


Visitor Photos

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Lucy Morrissey


I’m not sure what this moth is - saw it today in Eden Prairie near Purgatory wetland area and thought I’d send this photo over to you.

  fiery skipper  

Babette Kis


Hylephila phyleus fiery skipper

    fiery skipper      








Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  FIERY SKIPPER Hylephila phyleus
Rob Curtis

Oct 7, 2019

FIERY SKIPPER Hylephila phyleus. Chicago, summer 2019.

  Fiery skipper butterfly eating nectar in purple flowers

Sep 30, 2019

Fiery skipper butterfly drinking nectar in purple flowers before flying away | foraging, feeding | insect | siphoning-sucking mouthparts structure, proboscis | Hesperiidae, Hylephila phyleus | Rhopalocera, ropalóceros, Rhopalocères, papillons de jour, Tagfalter, Farfalla | HD video, nature sounds | Wildlife, Animal | #GoTrails, #arthropod, #insect, #insects, #butterflies, #butterfly, #fieryskipper

  Fiery Skipper Butterfly female - 5 spliced clips each w/a different transition
Edward Garrity

Oct 2, 2018

This female Fiery Skipper Butterfly was videoed in Alexandria, Virginia on October 1, 2018 at 1:06 PM.

When the wings of a Skipper are open, the forewings are the ones that are held upright in a vertical position and the hind wings are the ones held flat in a horizontal position. When the wings are closed the forewings are the wings on the inside. They also extend beyond the hindwings, both above them and to the rear of them.

This Fiery Skipper held its wings open and held its wings closed.

When the wings are open you see the colors orange and black. On the female there is much more black than orange. The edges on the inside have wide black margins. On a male, the back edges have thin black flame-like markings, thus the name "Fiery", and orange is a male's predominant color. When the wings are closed you notice the small black spots on the tawny colored outside of the wings.

According to, the caterpillar host plants are:

"Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), crabgrass (Digitaria), St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), and other grasses."

The scientific name of the Fiery Skipper Butterfly is Hylephila phyleus. It was first described by Dru Drury in 1773.

I cut five clips from a two minute video to remove the most blurry portions. I spliced these five clips together and used a different built-in LumaFusion transition effect between each clip. So I used four transitions in this order: "ZoomBlur", "BarSwipe", "Grow" and "Wipe Spin". Prior to this I have used only the "CrossDissolve" and "Burst" transitions. There are several built-in transitions to choose from and they are arranged in four categories: "Variety", "Wipes", "Slides" and "Pushes". Transitions can also be customized, but I haven't tried that.




Visitor Sightings

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Be sure to include a location.
  Lucy Morrissey

Location: Barnes Prairie Remnant, Racine Co., WI


fiery skipper  
  Babette Kis

Location: Barnes Prairie Remnant, Racine Co., WI


fiery skipper  







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