Sachem (Atalopedes campestris)
This skipper is one of our most common and also one of the most difficult for beginners to identify.
Males are orange with dark smudges on the forewing underside forming a sort of chevron pattern and an isolated dark smudge in the center near the bottom edge of the wing.
Male, Durham Co., NC 8/16/09.
Male, Durham Co., NC 8/15/10.
Females are duller brown and usually have a weak chevron of paler spots on the hindwing.
Female, Durham Co., NC 8/15/10.
Sachem and Fiery Skipper are the two most common skippers of urban and suburban areas in North Carolina, particularly abundant in the Piedmont of NC. Sachems are quite uncommon, however, near the coast. Also compare with the similar Whirlabout of the Coastal Plain, which is smaller and has more well-defined dark spots. Several rare Hesperia skippers (such as Cobweb Skipper, Leonard's Skipper, Meske's Skipper, and Indian Skipper) are also frequently confused with the variable Sachem. A good rule of thumb in NC: when in doubt, it's probably just a Sachem.
Female, Carroll Co., VA 7/26/03.
This female is unusually well-marked.
Alleghany Co., NC 9/3/06.
Chatham Co., NC 9/2/06.
Female, Durham, NC 10/10/07.
This female was attracted to the back porch light.
Durham, NC 10/10/07.
Female, Carroll Co., Virginia 9/2/2001.
Strongly-patterned females can be confused with rare Hesperia skippers, such as Leonard's Skipper. Both the hindwing chevron and forewing pattern of pale spots resemble the typical Hesperia pattern.
Chatham Co., NC 10/9/04.
Males have a pattern of diffuse smudgy spots. They have a hint of the female's chevron, but lack the whitish color.
A bright male (left) can be confused with a female Fiery Skipper or a male Whirlabout, both of which usually have more distinct smudgy spots. Of these three "wizards", Sachem is the most common in the Mountains, and Fiery in the Coastal Plain. They're both abundant in the Piedmont. Whirlabout is normally found only in the Coastal Plain and it's never seen in the numbers that Sachem and Fiery are.
Male, Buncombe Co., NC 7/7/02.
Males are easy to ID when they open their wings to show their distinctive large squarish black stigmas.
Chatham Co., NC 5/11/03.
|Male. Mission, Hidalgo Co., TX 10/13/04.|
Female. Durham, NC 10/1/03.
Female. Chatham Co., NC 10/9/04.