Upper Newport Bay, CA

© Peter J. Bryant

Sandhill Skipper

Polites sabuleti

Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae

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James Dilley Preserve, Laguna Beach, Orange County, CA. 9-12-08. © Ron Hemberger

James Dilley Preserve, Laguna Beach, Orange County, CA. 9-12-08. © Ron Hemberger

James Dilley Preserve, Laguna Beach, Orange County, CA. 9-12-08. © Ron Hemberger

San Joaquin Freshwater Marsh, Irvine, Orange County, CA. 9-13-08. © Ron Hemberger

San Joaquin Freshwater Marsh, Irvine, Orange County, CA. 9-13-08. © Ron Hemberger

San Joaquin Freshwater Marsh, Irvine, Orange County, CA. 9-13-08. © Ron Hemberger

Characteristics: Golden with brown-black margins. Ventral wing yellow-orange with distinct blackish markings giving a net-like appearance to the ventral hindwing. Forewing length: 11-15 mm.

Similar Species: Quite similar in appearance to the Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus).

Habitats, Behavior: In Upper Newport Bay, the Sandhill Skipper is commonly taken in the late summer on blossoms of Haplopappus.

Distribution: Nearly all recent Orange County records are from Upper Newport Bay and vicinity where a rather large population occurs. The species also occurred further inland in earlier years, as evidenced by Erich Walter's records from Anaheim and Theodore Hower's records from E1 Modena. We have one recent inland record from Anaheim.

Flight Period: Orange County records extend from March to October; the species is multiple brooded, with the summer brood by far the largest.

Larval Foodplants: "Probably Salt Grass, Distichlis spicata in our area" (Emmel and Emmel, 1973). In Orange County, D. spicata variety stolonifera is locally frequent along the coast. D. s. variety stricta is found occasionally in marshy areas and in the mountains (Boughey, 1968). It is not known if Polites sabuleti can utilize both varieties, although D. s. stolonifera would be the preferred food in nature since it grows in the coastal habitat of this skipper.

From Orsak, L. J. (1977). The Butterflies of Orange County, California. Center for Pathobiology Miscellaneous Publication #3. University of California Press, New York. 349pp.