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Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Fiery Skipper

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The Fiery Skipper is a bright butterfly with big eyes and a flight posture that looks more like soaring than fluttering.

Updated: 01/03/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
This species can be seen flying over grass (lawns), fields, bushes, and around forest openings. Though a butterfly, this small species is sometimes mistaken for a moth. The Fiery Skipper is orange with brown spots on the underside of its wings. This side is visible when the butterfly lands on a flower. Sometimes all the wings are raised; other times its forewings and hindwings sit at right angles to each other. When that happens, the topsides of wings are visible, showing dark brown wings with a row of small orange dashes near the edge. They are active from spring through late autumn and are very common in the Midwest and the Northeast.

The caterpillar may be a variety of colors ranging from brown to green. It has a large head and a brown stripe that runs down its back. This species feeds on grasses of all kinds including ornamental ones. Two generations of the Fiery Skipper can be born in one year; more can be counted on in warmer climates.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Hesperiidae
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          Genus: Hylephila
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            Species: phyleus
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Hylephila phyleus
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 25mm to 38mm (0.98" to 1.49")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow; orange; brown; black
Descriptors: spots; flying; soaring

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 25mm (1.0in) and 38mm (1.5in)
Lo: 25mm
Md: 31.5mm
Hi: 38mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Fiery Skipper may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Fiery Skipper. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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