Epargyreus clarus californicus

'California' Silver-spotted Skipper

This interesting large skipper can be found in much of southern California, though it never seems to be common. It flies from May into July with a second brood in August-September (according to Garth and Tilden's book). It uses legumes, such as Amorpha fruticosa and Lotus - now Acmispon - species.

Scott (1986) says eggs are green with a bright red top and are laid on upperside of leaves. "Young larvae live in a folded-over flap of a leaf; older larvae live between silked-together leaves.... Pupae hibernate" (p.471). Others add that larvae feed at night and retreat to their shelter during the day. These larvae are said to be very easy to find (Allen, Brock, Glassberg 2005, p.114; there is a good photo of a yellowish caterpillar on the facing page). Todd Stout has great larva/leaf photos on the Butterflies of America website. They overwinter as a pupa, and feed after (the two) flights, so larvae should be looked for from roughly late May/June through September, after which they will go to the ground and pupate, apparently in a kind of shelter (the Emmels cite Comstock 1927 on this point).

Epargyreus clarus californicus - 'California' Silver-spotted Skipper
This fresh clarus was near the Cedars Springs Trail trailhead in the San Jacinto Mountains. June 3, 2021.
Epargyreus clarus californicus - 'California' Silver-spotted Skipper
Epargyreus clarus californicus along the north shore of Big Bear Lake, June 26, 2006.
Epargyreus clarus californicus - 'California' Silver-spotted Skipper
This Silver-spotted Skipper was hanging out at Horsethief Creek in the Santa Rosa Wilderness, north of Anza-Borrego. So was I, on May 19, 2012.
Epargyreus clarus californicus - 'California' Silver-spotted Skipper
Cactus Springs Trail off Hwy 74, Riverside Co. on May 14, 2006.

©Dennis Walker