Hesperia columbia

Columbian Skipper

For some butterfly aficionados, Hesperia columbia is a sought-after butterfly that isn't easy to find. Ken Davenport's guidance was integral to the special trip I made to the Frazier Park area, on September 22, 2019, hoping to see these. It was a cool day, and I had to be patient, but after a few hours I found two or three among other skippers on a hilltop near Chuchupate Camp. I've been keeping notes on how to find this butterfly for several years, and made it a priority to photograph it this year during its fall flight. So it was exciting to see the first one after driving a hundred miles from Long Beach and not seeing any for the first few hours.

Hesperia columbia was first named as Pamphila columbia by Samuel Scudder in the Fourth Annual Report to the Trustees of the Peabody Academy of Sciences for the Year 1871, published in 1872. Scudder, from Boston, received the California specimen of this butterfly from Henry Edwards, who had arrived at San Francisco in 1865 (and became a close friend of John Muir). This specimen was illustrated in 1874 in Memoirs read before the Boston Society of Natural History, Volume 2, plate X. The type specimen is at Harvard's Museum of Comparitive Zoology and can be seen here.

Hesperia columbia, the Columbian Skipper

Hesperia columbia male perching on a hilltop in Frazier Park. September 22, 2019.

Hesperia columbia, the Columbian Skipper
A different columbia at the same place and time.
Hesperia columbia, the Columbian Skipper
This may be the same individual as above; difficult to tell when they are in aerial battles all over the hilltop.
Scudder's original description of Hesperia columbia, the Columbian Skipper
A collage of Scudder's original "description" and illustration of what we now call Hesperia columbia.

©Dennis Walker