The family Hesperiidae includes all butterflies that are collectively called skippers
because of their fast skipping flight. This family is the sole member of the Superfamily
Hesperioidea. Whereas, the other five families of butterflies belong to the Superfamily
Papilionoidea. So, skippers are considered butterflies, but they have a few traits
different than the species of “True” butterflies found in the Superfamily Papilionoidea.
Some of these traits include large eyes, short antennae (often with hooked clubs)
and stout bodies. Most also have a very rapid flight with a fast, almost blurred,
wing beat. There are about 3,500 species of skippers and they’re further divided
into seven subfamilies. They occur worldwide with more found in the tropics. Most
species are brown or tan, but some tropical members can be quite colorful.
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Atalopedes campestris belongs to the subfamily Hesperiinae. This species is found
from the southern United States from Virginia west to California then south through
Mexico and Central America to Brazil. It strays and colonizes north to central North
Dakota, southern Michigan, Manitoba and northern Pennsylvania. It preferred habitat
includes disturbed, open areas such as roadsides, landfills, pastures, meadows, fencerows,
yards, parks and lawns. It can be very common in lawns and is sometimes referred
as the “little orange moth” by home owners. It shares that distinction with the
Fiery Skipper, Hylephila phyleus.
The larval food source includes various grasses such as Bermuda grass, Cynodon dactylon,
crabgrass, Digitaria sp., St. Augustine grass, Stenotaphrum secundatum, and goosegrass,
Eleusine sp. Males perch on or near the ground during most of the day to wait for
receptive females. Females lay single eggs on dry grass blades in the afternoon.
Caterpillars feed on leaves and live at the base of grasses in shelters of rolled
or tied leaves.