Overview

Brief Summary

North American Ecology (US and Canada)

Hesperia leonardus is a year-round resident of the north central- northeastern United States, and into southern Canada (Scott 1986). Habitats are woodland meadows and clearings, prairie, and open Ponderosa pine woodland on crumbling Pikes Peak Granite soil. Host plants are multiple species of grasses. Eggs are laid haphazardly on or near the host plant. Individuals overwinter as first instar larvae. There is one flight each year with the approximate flight time Aug. 15- early Sept. in the northern part of the range, late Aug.-Sept. 15 in the southern part of their range, and Sept. 15- early Oct. in Arkansas (Scott 1986).
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Leonard’s Skipper, Hesperia leonardus, is a late season species grass skipper (subfamily Hesperiinae) found over much of the northeastern United States south through the Atlantic states to North Carolina and Tennessee west to Oklahoma and Colorado. It is also found in Canada from Nova Scotia to Alberta. There are three rather distinct subspecies.

The nominate subspecies, Hesperia l. leonardus is found in the eastern United States south to North Carolina and Tennessee west to Oklahoma and Missouri. It also occurs in southern Canada, the Great Lakes states and the upper Midwest.

The hindwing below is dark brown or chestnut with a white or cream spotband. Both pairs of upper wings are dark brown or black with some irregular yellow bands which are more prominent in the female. The male has a black stigma.

Pawnee Skipper, Hesperia l. pawnee is found from western Montana and southeastern Saskatchewan east to Minnesota , south to central Colorado and Kansas. The hindwing below is yellowish or orange with spots reduced or absent. The forewing above is orange with brown borders.

At one time Pawnee Skipper was considered to be a separate species. However, intermediates between Hesperia l. leonardus and Hesperia l. pawnee have been found in the upper Midwest.

Pawnee Montane Skipper, Hesperia l. montana, is found only in the South Platte River drainage of Colorado. Dorsally it is brown with cream spots. Above it is brownish red with yellow spots near the outer margins. Due to its ocurrence in a small area which is a single river drainage, Pawnee Montane Skipper is listed as Threatened by the USFWS.

Nectar plants include thistles (Cirsium spp.), lobelias (Lobelia spp.), blazing stars (Liatris spp.) and asters.

Larval foodplants are grasses including little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) and bent grasses (Agrostis spp. ). Caterpillars eat the grass leaves and live in shelters of leaves tied together. First instar caterpillars hibernate. Throughout its range Leonard’s Skipper is single brooded.

This species is often associated with high quality natural areas such as glades, barrens, oak savanna and prairies. Periodic fires are useful in maintaining the grassland habitat necessary for this species.

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Distribution

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: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Much of the eastern and central USA and southern Canada.

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: Subspecies H. l. leonardus seems to be fundamentally a species of savannas, open woodlands, and other dry grassy habitats among or near woods, although habitats on the islands off new England have few trees, but are often brushy. Habitats can include very open oak, pine, or mixed woodlands, oak savannas, right of ways in dry oak woods or pine barrens, edges of airport grasslands, grassy rock outcrops, native sand plain grasslands, dry meadows. Colonies are usually on dry sand or rocky situations eastward and not restricted to undisturbed natural grasslands there, but this species is generally is restricted to native grass assemblages often (not always) with little bluestem dominant. In New Jersey D. Schweitzer and J. Patt find that adults frequently enter open oak woodland (not on trails) and often sit on the oaks. in Ontario it was, and may still be, fairly common in remnant oak savannas. Many reports from wetlands and wet meadows eastward probably refer mostly to adults visiting nectar plants in such habitats and many are single adults. Subspecies H. l. montana occurs in open pine woodland. Subspecies H. l. pawnee and intergrades occur in dry, usually sandy, prairie.

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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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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

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Global Abundance

Unknown

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Adults sip flower nectar, especially from Liatris punctata. Males both patrol and perch for females (Scott, 1986).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Hesperia leonardus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 16
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: Another declining grassland/savanna species in the Northeast, but more stable in some parts of the Midwest and probably in Ontario. This species is of possible long-term concern but for now there are a substantial number of presumably viable occurrences and it is credibly ranked S3 or S4 in several states, but no S5 ranks are supportable now, if they ever were. Subspecies H. l. montana is federally listed as Threatened.

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.

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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%

Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 70-90%

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Threats

Degree of Threat: High

Comments: Threats vary from place to place but mostly involve habitat loss. Besides development, succession and probably decline in pasture land are threats eastward. In prairie regions either too much fire or lack of fire (or other disturbance) can be issues. This is another of many declining species of open, dry, grassy habitats in the Northeast. It is probably doing better in the Midwest and Ontario. It is not clear whether habitat changes alone suffice to account for decline.

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Management

Global Protection: Many (13-40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Needs: Any good quality occurrences in the Northeast are protection worthy.

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Wikipedia

Hesperia leonardus

The Leonard's Skipper[1] (Hesperia leonardus) is a butterfly of the Hesperiidae family. There are three subspecies. Next to the nominate species, these are the Pawnee Skipper (ssp. pawnee), which is found from western Montana and south-eastern Saskatchewan east to Minnesota, south to central Colorado and Kansas. Leonard's Skipper ranges from Nova Scotia and Maine west through southern Ontario and the Great Lakes region to Minnesota, south to North Carolina, Louisiana and Missouri and the Pawnee Montane Skipper (ssp. montana) is endemic to the South Platte River drainage of Colorado.

Hesperia leonardus pawnee

The wingspan is 32–45 mm. There is one generation with adults on wing from August to October.

The larvae feed on various grasses, including Andropogon scoparius, Bouteloua gracilis, and Agrostis. Adults feed on flower nectar from various flowers, including Liatris punctata, thistles, asters, and teasel.

Subspecies[edit]

Hesperia leonardus leonardus on Tithonia diversifolia
  • Hesperia leonardus leonardus (Harris, 1862)
  • Hesperia leonardus montana (Skinner, 1911)Pawnee Montane Skipper or Mountain Skipper
  • Hesperia leonardus pawnee (Dodge, 1874)Pawnee Skipper

References[edit]

  1. ^ Leonard's Skipper, Butterflies of Canada

External links[edit]


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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Three subspecies are generally recognized. Subspecies leonardus occupies most of range. Subspecies pawnee replaces it in the northern prairie regions east to sw MN. Populations in much of MN and prairie habitats in WI are intermediate--and cannot really be referred to either subspecies. Subspecies montana is endemic to a small area in CO and is Federally Listed.

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