Overview

Brief Summary

North American Ecology (US and Canada)

Euphyes vestris is a year round resident across the eastern United States and southeastern Canada to Alberta, and is also resident in a patchy distribution of separate populations across the western United States (Scott 1986). Habitats are moist areas and open woods. Host plants are sedges, largely restricted to one genus, Carex (Cyperaceae). Eggs are laid on the host plant singly. Individuals overwinter as third instar larvae. There is a variable number of flights each year depending on latitude, with one flight, mainly July1-July 31 in the northern and western part of the range and June 1-June 30 in California; two flights in Virginia-Montana and Texas, between May 1- Sept. 30, and multiple flights in Florida between March 1- Dec. 31(Scott 1986).
  • Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press.
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Comprehensive Description

General Description

The Dun Skipper is appropriately named; males are a uniform, dark brown colour, with the black dash on the forewing upperside being the only distinguishable mark. Females have several pale spots near the forewing apex. Similar to Amblyscirtes oslari, which has a grey cast to the hindwing underside (sometimes forming a faint banded pattern), and is smaller in size. Habitat and distribution also serve to separate these two species, since vestris is known only from the aspen parkland, whereas oslari is a species of the southern short-grass prairie. Only subspecies metacomet occurs in our area according to Layberry et al. (1998).
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Distribution

The Dun Skipper is common and widespread in eastern North America, ranging west to central Alberta. There are several disjunct west coast populations ranging from southern California to southwestern B.C. (Opler 1999). This species is currently known from only one Alberta locality, and further colonies should be sought in the aspen parkland in the central and east-central part of the province.
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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: Widespread. Ranges from Nova Scotia west across southern Canada to British Columbia and south to Arizona and Florida (Guppy and Shepard, 2001).

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Ecology

Habitat

Grassy woodland openings in the aspen parkland.
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Comments: Not nearly as strongly associated with wetlands as most EUPHYES and also strays a lot, so habitat is hard to characterize. Certainly does use low moist spots in fields, meadows, right of ways, etc. that would not qualify as palustrine.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

No data available for Alberta populations. Elsewhere, larval hosptlants include the following sedges: Cyperus esculenta (Heitzman 1965), Carex lacustris, C. spissa, C. gracilima (Layberry et al. 1998) in eastern North America, and Carex heliophila in the 'west' (Layberry et al. 1998). Eggs are laid on nut-grass sedge (Cyperus spp.) in Michigan (Nielsen 1999).
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Associations

Flowering Plants Visited by Euphyes vestris in Illinois

Euphyes vestris Boisduval: Hesperiidae, Lepidoptera
(observations are from Robertson, Reed, Clinebell, Barrett & Helenurm, Fothergill & Vaughn; this is the Dun Skipper)

Acanthaceae: Justicia americana sn (Rb); Asclepiadaceae: Asclepias sullivanti [plab sn] (Rb); Asteraceae: Achillea millefolium sn (Re), Aster pilosus sn (FV), Conoclinium coelestinum sn (Rb), Echinacea pallida sn (Cl), Liatris aspera sn (Cl), Liatris cylindracea sn (Cl), Liatris pycnostachya sn (Rb), Rudbeckia hirta sn (Re), Vernonia fasciculata sn (Rb); Caprifoliaceae: Linnaea borealis (BH); Fabaceae: Trifolium repens sn (FV); Lamiaceae: Blephilia hirsuta sn (Rb), Monarda bradburiana sn (Rb), Monarda fistulosa sn (Rb, Re), Pycnanthemum virginianum sn (Re); Polygonaceae: Persicaria hydropiperoides sn (FV); Rosaceae: Rubus allegheniensis sn (Rb)

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Adults feed on flower nectar, mud and dung. Males perch for females (Scott, 1986).
  • Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press.
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Cyclicity

The only Alberta record is for 20 July (Bird 2001). June 20 to Aug 10 in Saskatchewan (Hooper 1973).
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Life Cycle

Not known for Alberta populations. The eggs of eastern populations are green, and mature larvae are green with fine white lines, with a light-banded, brown and black head (Heitzman 1965).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Euphyes vestris

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 13
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Only one known occurence in Alberta; more field work needed to establish this species' prevalence.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Wikipedia

Euphyes vestris

The Dun Skipper, Sedge Witch or Dun Sedge Skipper (Euphyes vestris) is a species of butterfly of the Hesperiidae family. It is found from Nova Scotia west across southern Canada to southern Alberta, south to Florida, the Gulf Coast and eastern Texas. There are disjunct populations in the high plains and Rocky Mountains and along the Pacific Coast.

The wingspan is 29-35 mm.[2] Adults are on wing in July in one generation per year.[3] They feed on the nectar from white, pink and purple flowers, including Asclepias syriaca, Vicia americana, Prunella, Mentha × piperita, Apocynum, Ceanothus americanus and Echium vulgare.

The larvae feed on various sedges, including Cyperus esculentus and Carex heliophila.

Subspecies[edit]

  • Euphyes vestris vestris (California)
  • Euphyes vestris metacomet (Harris, 1862) (from Alberta east through the southern parts of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, southeast through Montana, South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, and eastward to the Atlantic coast)
  • Euphyes vestris kiowah (Reakirt, 1866)
  • Euphyes vestris harbisoni Brown & McGuire, 1983 (California)

References[edit]

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