(Atalopedes campestris)

Conservation Status
Photo by Greg Watson
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Sachem is a common, late season, migratory skipper. It occurs in the United States from the Great Plains to the East Coast, in the desert southwest, and west of the Rocky Mountains, and in Mexico, Central America, and Columbia. It is one of just a few skippers that migrate north each year. It appears in Minnesota usually in late summer but sometimes as early as late June or early July. It does not survive the winter. It does not appear in the state every year, and it rarely migrates as far as southern Canada. However, evidence suggests that sachem’s range is gradually extending northward as the climate warms.

Sachem is found in woodlands, dry grasslands, pastures, parks, gardens, weedy lawns, old fields, power line clearings, railroads, roadsides, and other disturbed areas. Larvae feed on various grasses. In Minnesota, these include crabgrass, Indian goosegrass, and red fescue. In other areas larvae also feed on Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass. Adults feed on a wide variety of flowers.

Adults have a 1¼ to 1 (32 to 42 mm) wingspan. The female is larger than the male.

On the male the upper side of the forewing is yellowish-orange with a broad brown border on the outer margin. Near the middle of the wing there is a large, rectangular patch of black, specialized, scent scales (stigma). As with many skippers, there is also a row of three small pale spots, the “wrist bracelet”, near the leading edge (costal margin) in the subapical area. On the female the base color is variable, from light brownish-yellow to dark yellowish-brown. There is a brown border on the costal margin, a smaller stigma, two large, squarish, glassy spots near the center, and two isolated pale spots near the outer margin.

On the male the upper side of the hindwing is brown with a large, diffuse, orange patch on the inner half crossed by dark veins. On the female the orange patch is more distinct.

The base color of the underside of the hindwing on both sexes is variable, from light brownish-yellow to dark yellowish-brown. On the male it is usually brownish-yellow with yellowish-brown on the outer margin and a yellowish-brown spot on the inner margin near the middle. On the female it is usually yellowish-brown with a distinct, chevron-shaped row of pale rectangular spots.




Wingspan: 1¼ to 1 (32 to 45 mm)


Similar Species


Woodlands, dry grasslands, old fields, parks, gardens, weedy lawns, roadsides, and other disturbed areas




Late June to late September in Minnesota. Usually one generation per year. If it arrives early, there may be a second generation.




The caterpillar creates a shelter of rolled leaves tied with silken threads near the base of the grass plant. It leaves the shelter to cut a piece of grass blade, returns with the cutting, and feeds in the shelter.


Life Cycle


The female lays a single, small, white egg on a blade of a host species of grass.


Larva Food


Grasses, including crabgrass, Indian goosegrass, and red fescue


Adult Food


Nectar from many flowers


Distribution Map



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







Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  


Papilionoidea (butterflies)  


Hesperiidae (skippers)  


Hesperiinae (grass skippers)  


  Subtribe Hesperiina  



Subordinate Taxa


Some authors recognize two subspecies, but this is not universally accepted. Of these, only Atalopedes campestris huron occurs in the eastern United States.


field sachem (Atalopedes campestris campestris)

huron sachem (Atalopedes campestris huron)




Atalopedes tenebricosus

Hesperia amphissa

Hesperia augustus

Hesperia campestris

Hesperia huron

Pamphila kedema


Common Names



sachem 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.





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Greg Watson

    sachem   sachem  
    sachem   sachem  








Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Sachem Skipper (female) enjoying a Zinnia (Atalopedes campestris)
Nature in Motion

Oct 26, 2016

This lovely Skipper demonstrates why a long proboscis is essential. All identification markers are shown.

Skipper: Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers) » Hesperiidae (Skippers) » Hesperiinae (Grass Skippers) » Atalopedes » Atalopedes campestris (Sachem)

Honey Bee by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (



  Sachem (Atalopedes campestris) Female on Chicory (Cichorium intybus) Get Every Nook and Cranny
Nature's Wild Things

Apr 24, 2017

Sachem (Atalopedes campestris) Female on Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
Get Every Nook and Cranny
Video 30 sec 48% Speed - Audio None
Cabarrus County, North Carolina, United States
Photo Walk - 07-26-2016

  Atalopedes campestris (Female) 08-27-16

Aug 28, 2016




Visitor Sightings

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  Greg Watson

Location: Eagles Bluff Park in La Crescent







Created: 9/26/2022

Last Updated:

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