Butterfly Atlas Species Accounts

Butterfly Atlas data collected from 1986-1990

Crossline Skipper

Polites origenes

Named

Fabricius,1793

Identification

Wingspan: 1 and 3/16 to 1 and 1/2." Similar to Tawnet-edged Skipper (P. themistocles), which see for detailed distinctions. 

Distribution

Extreme southern Saskatchewan, western Dakotas and eastern Rockies east through the southern Great Lakes Region to central Maine; northeastern Texas east to northern Florida and throughout the mid-Atlantic States. North throughout New England to central Maine.

Status in Massachusetts

Uncommon to locally common. Though widespread across the state with records from the westernmost border to Cape Cod and Islands, this species is less common than the Tawny-edged Skipper. Maximum: 5 on 3 July 1990, Westport (Bristol Co.).

Flight Period in Massachusetts

One flight: from late June to early August. Extreme dates: 29 June 1986, Petersham (Worcester Co.), J. Baird and 10 August 1986, Sharon (Norfolk Co.), B. Cassie.

Larval Food Plants

Grasses including Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium [Andropogon] scoparius ) and Purpletop (Tridens flavius)

Adult Food Sources

Found nectaring on 15 species of flowering plants by atlas workers including Common Milkweed and Cow Vetch.

Habitat

Old fields, power lines, sand barrens, and other open, relatively dry situations.

Life Cycle

EGG: Pale green; dome-shaped. OVIPOSITION: Eggs are laid on hostplant grasses and hatch in approximately two weeks.

LARVA: Dark brown and mottled with white; the head is black. CHRYSALIS: Bluish-gray with a darker head. OVERWINTERING STAGE: Third or fourth instar larva.

Like the Tawny-edged, male Crosslines often perch in open situations awaiting receptive females. Caterpillars make a shelter by silking together the edges of a blade of grass.

This account was contributed by Richard K. Walton and Christopher Leahy.

Account Author

Richard K. Walton

Additional Information

Read more on this species at the North American Butterfly Association.