Northern Cloudywing

Thorybes pylades

The Northern Cloudywing is not a common skipper, usually seen singly, and often nectaring. My first memory of this species is in large open field in central Wisconsin, painted orange and yellow with several species of Hawkweed (Hieracium), the butterfly flitting from flower to flower ahead of me, never sitting long enough for a decent photo. This seems to be a pattern for this species, as I still have trouble getting close enough to this species for a good photograph.

Weekly sightings for Northern Cloudywing

Identifying characteristics

Above, this species is a basically brown skipper, with 3-4 small, misaligned subapical white spots. There are several other white spots near the middle of the forewing leading edge, and 1-2 other tiny white spots in the center of the wing. Below, in fresh individuals and good lighting, you can see several darker areas in the hindwing and a slightly lighter color in the margin of the hindwing. The face of the northern Cloudywing is dark and the antennae are dark near the bend.

Similar species

The Southern Cloudywing is similar in size and behavior, but differs in having much larger white spots on the forewing above, the subapical spots aligned, a white spot on the antennae at the bend, and a lighter face.


Open fields, with plenty of nectar sources, roadsides, and woodland openings.


One brood, late May to early July.


Usually seen singly. In a four-year sample of NABA sightings of this species, over 90% of the time fewer than ten individuals were seen.


Map showing sighting locations for Northern Cloudywing
Map key
Northern CloudywingClick to enlarge

Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest, Fond du Lac Co., WI, July 14, 2004.

Northern CloudywingClick to enlarge

North of Mt. Morris, Waushara Co., WI, June 2, 2005.

Northern CloudywingClick to enlarge

Greenwood Refuge, Waushara Co., WI, June 2, 1999.