Hylephila phyleus

Common Name:  Fiery Skipper

Hylephila phyleus

California's most urban butterfly, almost limited to places where people mow lawns. Its range extends to Argentina and Chile and it belongs to a large genus which is otherwise entirely Andean. Its North American range may be quite recent. Here in California, the oldest Bay Area record is only from 1937. At any rate, it is multiple-brooded, and appears to experience heavy winter-kill in most places; scarce early in the season, it spreads out from local places where it survived, gradually reoccupying most of its range by midsummer and achieving maximum abundance in September and October. It occasionally colonizes upslope to about 3000' in the Gold Country but does not seem to survive the winter; strays have been taken to 7000' and on the East slope.

Breeds mostly on Bermuda Grass (Cynodon dactylon), which despite its name is native to the Mediterranean region; probably on other turf grasses as well, including the native Distichlis spicata, which is a Hylephila hostplant in Peru and Chile! Adults swarm over garden flowers--Lantana, Verbena, Zinnias, Marigolds, Buddleia, etc., etc. and in the wild are quite happy with Yellow Star-Thistle.



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