Peck’s Skipper, Polites peckius, is commonly seen collecting nectar from flowers in late Spring and early Summer. The skippers are easily separated from the butterflies and moths by their characteristic antennae that hook backward at the tips.
In the classification of insects, the moths, butterflies and skippers are grouped together in the Order Lepidoptera, meaning “scale wing”. The wings of Lepidoptera are covered with scales that give the wing its colors and patterns. A smudge of scales will transfer to your fingers when you pick up a moth or butterfly by its wings. The moths include over 90 percent of the species in the Order Lepidoptera and are divided into dozens of groups with diverse characteristics. The Butterflies are a small group within the Lepidoptera that share similar characters and the Skippers are all grouped together in a single family, the Hesperiidae.
Peck’s skipper feeds on grasses as a larva, including bluegrass. Usually larvae are found in fields with very tall grasses, but it is possible for larvae to grow on a suburban lawn. The larvae pupate at the base of the grass or even dig a shallow depression into the soil.
The adults are attracted to flowers common to butterfly gardens. Viewed from the top, the adults are difficult to distinguish from other skippers. However, when viewed from the side, the hind wing has a distinctive series of yellow patches. As shown in the photo below, the row of yellow patches are all about the same length except the third from the top which is over twice as long as the others. No other skipper has this pattern.
It is not uncommon for Peck’s skipper to land on people. In the picture below, photographer and Purdue alum, Gene White, is holding a Peck’s Skipper during last year’s Butterfly Encounter. The friendly little guy just landed on his finger.