Nevada Fish & Wildlife Office
Pacific Southwest Region

Carson Wandering Skipper
(Pseudocopaeodes eunus obscurus)

Carson Wandering Skipper
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Hesperiinae
Genus: Pseudocopaeodes
Species: eunus
Subspecies: obscurus
About 13 mm; size is forewing length from base to apex.
A few weeks during June/July, as an adult
Plant nectar

Official Status:

Listed as Endangered on August 7, 2002.


Life History:

The Carson wandering skipper is a small, brownish orange butterfly with a black terminal line and veins. It is believed to be one of five subspecies. It can be distinguished from the other subspecies of P. eunus by its browner and less intensely orange dorsal surface, thicker black coloring along the veins, outer margin, and basally on both surfaces. It is duller, overall. The bright yellow and orange ground color, especially on the ventral side, is interrupted by broadly darkened veins.

The adult flight season occurs primarily from June to mid July. The females lay their cream-colored eggs on salt grass (Distichlis spicata). The Carson wandering skipper’s life cycle is likely similar to other species of Hesperiinae family. The Carson wandering skipper may differ from other P. eunus in producing only one brood, rather than two, per year.


Distribution and Habitat:


The Carson wandering skipper was discovered at a site in Carson City, Nevada in 1965. Two additional sites were found in Washoe County, Nevada, and Lassen County, California in 1998. In 2004, one additional population was found in Douglas County, Nevada. In 2005, a second population was found in Washoe County. A sighting of a single adult in 2004 near Flanigan in Washoe County, needs to be investigated to determine if a viable population exists there. The Carson City population is believed extirpated as of 1998.

Locally distributed in grassland habitats on alkaline substrates in Nevada and California. Salt grass is the larval food plant and is commonly found in the salt-bush-greasewood community of the intermountain west. Known nectar sources for the adults include Thelypodium crispum (thelypody), Sisymbrium altissimum (tumble mustard), Pyrrocoma racemosus (racemose golden-weed), Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle), Cirsium vulgare (bull thistle), Lotus tenuis (slender birds-foot trefoil, Cleomella parviflora (slender cleomella), Cleomella plocasperma (small-flowered cleomella), and Heliotropium curassavicum (heliotrope). Suitable habitat for the Carson wandering skipper appears to have the following characteristics: located east of the Sierra Nevada; elevation less than 5,000 feet; presence of salt grass; near nectar sources; near open areas near springs or other water bodies; and possibly near geothermal activity. Nectar sources depend on various environmental conditions and are likely transitory.



  The Carson wandering skipper is threatened by a variety of factors including habitat destruction, degradation, and fragmentation due to urban and residential development, wetland habitat modification, non-native plant invasion, agricultural practices such as excessive livestock grazing and trampling, water exportation projects, and naturally occurring stochastic events.

Fun Fact:

  Members of Hesperiidae are called skippers because of their powerful flight. While their flight may be faster than butterflies, they seldom fly far and few species migrate.

Actions / Current Information:

  • News Release: Final Recovery Plan for Carson Wandering Skipper
  • Federal Register Notice: Final Recovery Plan for the Carson Wandering Skipper (Pseudocopaeodeseunus obscurus)
  • Document: Final Recovery Plan for the Carson Wandering Skipper (Pseudocopaeodes eunus obscurus), June 2007 (.5 MB PDF)
  • News Release: Public Comments Invited on Draft Recovery Plan for Carson Wandering Skipper
  • Federal Register Notice: Draft Recovery Plan for the Carson Wandering Skipper (Pseudocopaeodeseunus obscurus)
  • Document: Draft Recovery Plan for the Carson Wandering Skipper (Pseudocopaeodes eunus obscurus), December 2005 (.7 MB PDF)
    Last updated: April 16, 2014