Pyrgus scriptura apertorum

Small Checkered-Skipper

This butterfly was named by the late George Austin in the 1998 Systematics book (pp.524-5). Apertorum (from the "open spaces" in which it flies) is said to be larger on average, with a paler ground color (brown vs. black) and larger white spots than what Austin saw in populations from the Bay Area, which are now the nominate species. He also pointed to the fringes, where in apertorum the brown checks usually reach about half-way to the edge on the forewing, while in nom. scriptura they usually reach the edge. According to Ken Davenport (2013), the scriptura in Kern County west of the San Joaquin Valley is the nominate species, while one apertorum was collected by Gordon Pratt at Edwards Air Force Base.

Apertorum flies much of the year, but one is far more likely to see either Pyrgus albescens or, especially, Heliopetes ericitorum in patches of the host mallows. Compared to those, apertorum is tiny, and can be hard to track as it darts around close to the ground.

Pyrgus scriptura apertorum - Small Checkered-Skipper
This male Pyrgus scriptura apertorum was patrolling around host Sphaeralcea ambigua at Cactus Spring Trail, off Hwy 74 above Palm Desert in Riverside Co. June 3, 2017.
Pyrgus scriptura apertorum - Small Checkered-Skipper
Ventral of Pyrgus scriptura apertorum; same day as above.
Pyrgus scriptura apertorum - Small Checkered-Skipper
Female perching. Cactus Spring Trail, May 27, 2016. Females have slightly reduced spotting compared to males.
Pyrgus scriptura apertorum - Small Checkered-Skipper
Small Checkered-Skipper male at Cottonwood Spring, Joshua Tree National Park, March 18, 2008.
Pyrgus scriptura apertorum - Small Checkered-Skipper
Spaeralcea ambigua var rugosa, Desert Globemallow, is the host of several butterflies at Cactus Spring Trail (where the plant is very common), including Pyrgus scriptura apertorum.
Pyrgus scriptura apertorum - Small Checkered-Skipper
The flower of Desert Globemallow, a.k.a. Rough-leaved Apricot Mallow or just Apricot Mallow.

©Dennis Walker