Common Streaky-Skipper, Celotes nessus, life history
Common Streaky-Skipper (Celotes nessus) Life History

Leaf shelters made by first-instar caterpillars

Egg, 3-27-10

Egg showing caterpillar, 3-28-10

Recently-emerged caterpillar, 3-29-10


Leaf shelter is pulled up here to show caterpillar is eating inside shelter, 4-7-10


4-26-10, just before final molt


5-4-10, caterpillar is prepupal

Chrysalis, 5-4-10

Fresh Common Streaky-Skipper, 5-12-10

Caterpillar beginning diapause, 11-5-09

3-3-10, caterpillar still in diapause

Fresh skipper from diapausal caterpillar, 4-2-10

Common Streaky-Skippers were abundant during March, 2010, and it was not hard to locate caterpillars on Indian Mallow (Abutilon fruticosum). One had only to look for leaf shelters such as those pictured to the right. During this time I was also able to locate an egg and raise one of those caterpillars to maturity.

The caterpillar emerged from the egg on March 29. It grew very slowly. The early instar caterpillars appear to prefer to eat inside the shelter (see 4-7-10 picture), scraping the surface of the leaf. This certainly protects them in the wild, but A. fruticosum does not keep well; this makes it more difficult to care for the slow-growing caterpillar!

The caterpillar took 34 days to pupate. This is a very long time for a caterpillar to survive. Not only do they need to escape predators and parasites, they also have to deal with humans using lawn mowers! When the skippers were most active, I had to move several caterpillars to plants that would not go under the blade.

I first collected nessus caterpillars in the fall of 2009. Two of these went into diapause. They simply stayed in the dried-up leaf shelter. When I saw Streaky-Skippers were active in the spring, I began to occasionally offer food to my two caterpillars. However, they never ate; eventually they both pupated and successfully emerged as adults. (See the last three pictures at right.)  Those caterpillars were probably 6 months old when they finally pupated.

Facial views

   Face of Common Streaky-Skipper

Chrysalis face

The caterpillar grew slowly, finally pupating on April 14. The adult butterfly emerged 9 days later. The journey from egg to adult took 45 days.

Common Streaky-Skipper Page