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Species Polites mystic - Long Dash - Hodges#4043

Long Dash? - Polites mystic Skipper - Polites mystic Butterfly 5108 & 5114 - Polites mystic G. Polites - Polites mystic Polites mystic - female Long Dash - Polites mystic Long Dash - Polites mystic Long Dash - Polites mystic
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
Family Hesperiidae (Skippers)
Subfamily Hesperiinae (Grass Skippers)
Tribe Hesperiini
Genus Polites
Species mystic (Long Dash - Hodges#4043)
Hodges Number
wingspan 29-38 mm in United States; 23-29 mm in Canada
Adult: male upperside bright orangish-brown with wide dark brown border covering outer third of each wing; dark patch along outer edge of black stigma, and another wide rectangular patch near wingtip makes stigma appear much longer and wider than it is, and gives the species its common name
female upperside mostly dark brown with varying amounts of dull orange or straw-colored shading on costa; both sexes have pale orange medial patch on hindwing above, crossed by dark veins, and a crescent-shaped band of pale medial spots on underside, parallel to outer margin of wing
[adapted from description at Butterflies of Canada]
western individuals may have less conspicuous spots on underside of wings, and in some individuals the underside may appear uniformly yellowish-orange

Larva: body brownish-green or dark brown with white mottling and darker dorsal stripe
throughout northern United States and southern Canada
open moist areas: meadows, marshes, streamsides, wood edges, prairie swales
adults fly from late May or early June to late July in the east, and to mid-August in the west
larvae feed on grasses, including blue grass (Poa spp.), Quack Grass (Agropyron repens), Barnyard Grass (Echinochloa crus-galli), and Timothy Grass (Phleum pratense)
adults take nectar from flowers of herbaceous plants
Life Cycle
eggs deposited singly on or near host plant; larva feeds on leaves and lives in shelter of tied leaves; overwinters as a fourth-stage larva; one generation per year
"Specimens from the Prairies tend to be paler on the underside and have been treated as subspecies dacotah, but we find the difference too slight and too variable and do not recognize any subspecies in Polites mystic." [quoted from Butterflies of Canada by Layberry et al]
Judging from photos of western specimens of P. mystic at BugGuide, the phrase "tend to be paler" seems like an understatement: the photo from Colorado by Tom Murray here shows virtually no trace of spots on the underside; likewise with the photo from North Dakota by Brian Reynolds here. Compare those photos with an image from Wisconsin here. The individual on the left looks very similar to Tom's and Brian's photos, but the text in the URL of the image identifies it as a Delaware Skipper.
See Also
Females resemble females Indian Skipper (Hesperia sassacus). Males are distinguished from other Polites species by the apparent greater length and width of the stigma.
In the west, the wings of some individuals may be uniformly orangish-yellow on the underside; these individuals could be easily mistaken for a Delaware Skipper (Anatrytone logan) if the underside is all that is seen or photographed
Also see Woodland Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides)
Internet References
pinned adult images plus info and US distribution map (