Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
First described in 1911 by Henry Skinner as Pamphila pawnee montana
Explanation of Names
Scientific Name: montana is Latin for "of mountains, montane".
Common Name: For many years, it was considered to be a subspecies of the Pawnee Skipper, and it lives in the mountains.
Only found in in the South Platte River drainage system of Colorado, including parts of Douglas, Jefferson, Park, and Teller Counties.
Open Ponderosa Pine forest with an understory of Blue Grama Grass interspersed with Prairie Gayfeather. It has to be open enough to avoid having the two plant species shaded out by trees, but without too many shrubs to crowd the them out. Only the Pikes Peak Granite Formation provides the geological conditions necessary for the right mix of plant species to support the species.
Adults fly from late July until the first killing frosts of the fall.
Larvae feed on Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis)
Adults primarily nectar on the Prarie Gayfeather (Liatris punctata), though they've been seen nectaring on other plants, such as the Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans).
Adults emerge from their pupae in late July, mate, and lay their eggs. The larvae hatch out, to overwinter in larval form.
The main limit on their range seems to be the intersection of the ranges of the Blue Grama Grass and the Prairie Gayfeather, as well as the extent of the Pikes Peak Granite Formation, and physical barriers to interbreeding with the Pawnee Skipper. Such habitat is limited (less than 40 square miles) and easily lost, so the species is listed as threatened by the US Government. A dam which would have inundated a significant part of this habitat was planned, but the conservation needs of this subspecies kept it from being built.
Dispatches From The Vanishing World World: The Skipper and the Dam
Article from the New Yorker about the Pawnee Montane Skipper and the Two Forks Dam
Species Profile for Pawnee Montane skipper (Hesperia leonardus montana)
Federal Fish and Wildlife Service Environmental Conservation Online System (FWS-ECOS)
Entomological News v.22, p.413
Skinner's original description of the subspecies.