Butterflies of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance

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Once on a species account page, clicking on the "View PDF" link will show the flight data for that species, for each of the three regions of the state.
Other information, such as high counts and earliest/latest dates, can also been seen on the PDF page.

Related Species in HESPERIIDAE:
<<       >>
Common NameCommon Checkered-Skipper by Roger Rittmaster => Durham Co.
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[Google Images]     BoA [Images ]
Scientific NameBurnsius communis
Link to BAMONA species account.
MapClick on a county for list of all database records for the species in that county.
DistributionDISTRIBUTION: Essentially statewide; certainly occurs in all counties, but might be migratory (non-resident) in a few of the higher mountain counties.
AbundanceABUNDANCE: Fairly common to often common in the fall, except rare to uncommon in the mountains. Rather rare in spring, and not numerous until after mid-July, with numbers peaking quite late (in September and October) for a skipper.
FlightFLIGHT PERIOD: Apparently three broods in the state, but only the last is numerous. Broods are a small one from March to mid-May downstate and in April and May in the mountains, a larger one from early June to early September, and the main one from early September to mid-November, rarely into December. Whether this third brood is simply a brood hatched in NC or represents mostly migrants from farther south is not well understood. The scarcity of spring records in the Coastal Plain, compared with the many in the Piedmont, is a bit baffling.
HabitatHABITAT: This is an open country butterfly. It occurs in fields, gardens, vacant lots, powerline clearings, and other mostly disturbed places, usually well away from forested cover.
See also Habitat Account for General Fields, Gardens, and Ruderal Habitats
PlantsFOOD AND NECTAR PLANTS: The foodplants are mainly in the mallow family (Malvaceae), most of which are introduced. The species nectars on many plants, mostly close to the ground, such as on clovers (Trifolium spp.) and composites (Asteraceae).
CommentsCOMMENTS: Though references often mention this species and others as migrants, we suggest the term "winter-stressed" for a species showing the flight pattens above (as do Phaon Crescent, Southern Skipperling, Eufala Skipper, and a few others). These species have very small first broods, and succeedingly larger following broods. To some biologists, this implies that the species migrates into the state in large numbers in summer and especially in early fall. However, we suggest that these species, being near the northern end of their breeding range, have adults that leave large numbers of eggs in the fall, but only a few adults are produced from this brood to fly in the spring, perhaps as most larvae succumb to cold weather. Those few adults flying in the spring mate, lay eggs, and a larger brood is then produced, and a third brood (if there is one) is larger still.

The extremely similar White Checkered-Skipper (Burnsius albezens) has recently been collected in NC, as well as often in SC. In fact, most recent specimens from all but the northwestern part of SC have been determined to be White, based on examination of genitalia. Thus, this western species is clearly moving northeastward and might be widespread in southern NC now. The late Ron Gatrelle has dissected a number of both species from South Carolina, and had this to say about potential field marks: "Communis [Common] being noticeably larger and much darker on the underside of the hindwings. The markings on the underside of albezens [White] looks washed out in comparison. Also the ground color above in communis is darker - kind of blackish gray, while in albezens it is more a brown gray. This is all for males." John Burns provides these data for forewing length: "albescens [= albezens]: 12.0 to 14.9 mm (mean: 13.72 mm); communis: 13.2 to 15.6 mm (mean: 14.58 mm)". Charles Bordelon says: "... males of P. albescens also have the same basic pattern as P. philetas [Desert Checkered-Skipper] dorsally." Several biologists, including me (LeGrand), suggest that males with strongly blue hairs on the body and wing bases are Commons, or are mostly likely to be Commons; White males tend to have only silver or gray hairs (though some or many male Commons may show silver or gray hairs).

We will continue to treat essentially all reports of "checkered-skipper sp." in NC as Commons, as we do not want to discard such data, as there are just several definitive records for White in the state, and as recently collected individuals in Durham County were determined to be Commons.

State RankS5
State Status
Global RankG5
Federal Status
SynonymPyrgus communis
Other Name

Links to other butterfly galleries: [Cook] [Lynch] [Pippen] [Pugh]
Photo Gallery for Common Checkered-Skipper
Photo by: Randy Newman
Comment: Fort Macon State Park, Carteret Co.; 2003-Aug-27
Common Checkered-Skipper - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Marty and Mark Fancy
Comment: Oct 28, 2014. Craven Co.; female
Common Checkered-Skipper - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Joe Lafferty
Comment: 5-Oct-2012, Sunset Beach, Brunswick Co.
Common Checkered-Skipper - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Lee Amos
Comment: 2014-Sep-18, Kerr Lake, Vance Co.; female
Common Checkered-Skipper - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Sven Halling
Comment: Sep 4, 2014, Pisgah National Forest, Transylvania County; female
Common Checkered-Skipper - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Stephanie Puckett
Comment: Mecklenburg Co., near uptown Charlotte; June 2014
Common Checkered-Skipper - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Chris Talkington
Comment: Anson County; 15-Sep-2013; female (left) and male (right). Note the obvious blue body hairs on this species, especially the male. Compare with White Checkered-Skipper, which has mostly gray hairs, especially on the males.
Common Checkered-Skipper - Click to enlarge
Photo by: C. Talkington
Comment: female, Anson County
Common Checkered-Skipper - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Tom Sanders
Comment: Mecklenburg Co., male. 2010-Sep-30
Common Checkered-Skipper - Click to enlarge