Epargyreus clarus

Geographic Range

Silver-spotted skippers (Epargyreus clarus) are a species found throughout the United States and in southern Canada. In the western part of their range, they are found primarily in mountainous locations. (Hall, 2020; Wagner, 2005)


Silver-spotted skippers live in many different temperate habitats. They can be found in forests, swamps, gardens, brushy areas, roadsides, and open areas. This species can be found on flowers, mud, and sometimes animal feces. Larval silver-spotted skippers build and live in leaf shelters. The shelters of larger larvae can be made up of several leaves stitched together with silk. (Bartlett, 2017; Hall, 2020)

Physical Description

Adult silver-spotted skippers have a wingspan of 43-50 mm. They are one of the largest species in the family skippers. The upper sides of their wings are brown. They have goldish-yellow spots on their forewings. The fringe of their wings has white coloring. The underside of their wings is brown with large white spots. They have brown bodies, six legs, and long tongues. Males and females are identical. (Bartlett, 2017; Hall, 2020; Wagner, 2005)

Larvae are up to 2 inches long. They look wrinkly and yellow-green in color. Dark green stripes and spots cover their bodies. Larval silver-spotted skippers have bright orange legs. Larvae look very similar to Zestos skippers. Pupae are dark brown in color and have black and white markings. Eggs are green in color with red tops. (Bartlett, 2017; Hall, 2020)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range wingspan
    43 to 50 cm
    16.93 to 19.69 in


Spotted-silver skippers develop from egg to larvae. Larvae undergo complete metamorphosis to become adults. The last generation of the year overwinters in their pupal stages. (Hall, 2020)


Throughout their development, larvae make four different kinds of leaf nest shelters. Larvae only leave their shelters to feed or to build bigger shelters. They pupate in their leaf nest. (Hall, 2020)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement


In the northernmost parts of their geographic range, spotted-silver skippers produce one generation per year. In the southernmost parts of their range, they can produce three or more generations during the long warm season. Spotted-silver skippers overwinter as pupae. (Bartlett, 2017; Hall, 2020)


Spotted-silver skippers have a jerky, acrobatic flight. Adults are active during the day, while larvae feed at night. They are active throughout the summer months. (Bartlett, 2017)

Throughout their development, larvae make four different kinds of leaf nest shelters. The first shelter is made by cutting a small part of leaf and attaching it with silk. As the larvae grow, they use more and more leaf matter to build their nests. Larvae only leave their shelters to feed or to build bigger shelters. The largest shelters are made up of several leaves together. Silver-spotted skippers pupate in their leaf nest. (Hall, 2020)

Communication and Perception

Silver-spotted skippers have compound eyes. Like other butterflies and skippers, they are able to see ultraviolet light. Their antennae are sensory organs; they allow the skippers to sense odors, touch, and possibly sound. They have taste receptors in their mouths and on the bottoms of their feet. Silver-spotted skippers are able to perceive sound, though they do not have a special organ dedicated to this sense as moths do. (Wernert, 1998)

Food Habits

Using their long tongues, adult spotted-silver skippers are able to feed from a variety of flowers. Larvae eat the leafy greens of plants. They have been recorded feeding from false indigobush, hog-peanuts, butterfly peas, ground nuts, and American wisteria. Additionally, they have been recorded feeding from a variety of introduced plants, including kudzus, black locusts, Chinese wisteria, and the genus dixie ticktrefoil. They may feed from crop plants like soybeans and members of the pea family. (Bartlett, 2017; Hall, 2020; Yahner, 1998)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • nectar


Larval silver-spotted skippers are preyed upon by paper wasps and horse guard wasps. Paper wasps hunt down larva and steal them. Horse guard wasps may stock their nests with larval silver-spotted skippers. To avoid attracting parasitic wasps to their nests, larvae forcibly expel their waste in a process called ballistic defecation. When larvae feel threatened, they spit a greenish, bitter defensive chemical at the threat. (Hall, 2020; Wagner, 2005)

Ecosystem Roles

Adult silver-spotted skippers pollinate a variety of flowers. They are primary consumers. Paper wasps and horse guard wasps are parasitic wasps that use the larvae of this species as a host. (Hall, 2020; Wagner, 2005)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • pollinates
Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Adult silver-spotted skippers pollinate the plants that they feed from, such as soybeans and members of the pea family. (Hall, 2020)

  • Positive Impacts
  • pollinates crops

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Larval silver-spotted skippers feed on crop plants like soybeans and members of the pea family. (Hall, 2020)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status


Deena Hauze (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.


marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats nectar from flowers


active during the night


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate


Bartlett, T. 2017. "Species Epargyreus clarus - Silver-spotted Skipper - Hodges#3870" (On-line). Bug Guide. Accessed June 26, 2020 at https://bugguide.net/node/view/403.

Hall, D. 2020. "Silver-spotted skipper: Epargyreus clarus (Cramer) (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae: Pyrginae)" (On-line). Featured Creatures Entomology & Nematology. Accessed June 26, 2020 at http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/silver-spotted_skipper.htm.

Wagner, D. 2005.

Caterpillars of Eastern North America: A Guide to Identification and Natural History
. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Accessed June 26, 2020 at http://www.jstor.com/stable/j.ctt7t2wx.10.

Wernert, S. 1998. Reader's Digest North American Wildlife. New York: Readers Digest.

Yahner, R. 1998. BUTTERFLY AND SKIPPER USE OF NECTAR SOURCES IN FORESTED AND AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES OF PENNSYLVANIA. Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science, 71(3): 104-108. Accessed June 26, 2020 at https://www.jstor.org/stable/44149230.