Overview

Comprehensive Description

General Description

This is one of three plain orange skippers in our fauna, with only a small dark stigma dorsally on the males, and without a contrasting wing pattern ventrally. Dorsally, the wing margins are dark, and the darkness extends onto the apices of the wing veins. The wing fringe is orange. Oarisma garita has a white wing fringe, more diffuse dark wing margins dorsally, and light coloured wing veins ventrally. Atrytone logan is larger, with longer antennae, more distinct dark wing margins and dark wing veins dorsally, and a dorsal forewing cell-end bar. As well, note that Thymelicus is more prone to hovering in flight, rather than "skipping" in the fashion of the other two species.
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Distribution

This is an introduced European species that most likely spread to North America as overwintering eggs in grass seed, and first detected at London, Ontario, in 1910. It is widely established in eastern Canada and the United States, with isolated colonies in the west, one of which became established in Edmonton in the 1980s and is still spreading outward from that centre.
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Ecology

Habitat

Open grassy areas, often disturbed, such as roadsides and hay fields.
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Trophic Strategy

Grasses, and especially timothy (Phleum pratense).
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Thymelicus lineola is the only species of North American skipper for which eggs are the overwintering stage. There is one brood in Alberta, which begins to emerge in late June.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Thymelicus lineola

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 9 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

AACTCTATATTTTATTTTTGGAATTTGAGCAGGAATATTAGGTACTTCTTTAAGTTTATTAATTCGAACAGAATTAGGAAATCCAGGATCATTAATTGGAGATGATCAAATTTATAATACTATTGTTACAGCTCATGCTTTTATTATAATTTTTTTTATAGTAATACCTATTATAATTGGAGGATTTGGAAATTGATTAGTTCCATTAATATTAGGAGCACCAGATATAGCTTTCCCTCGAATAAATAATATAAGATTTTGAATATTACCCCCATCTTTAATATTACTAATTTCAAGAAGAATTGTAGAAAATGGTGCAGGAACTGGATGAACAGTATACCCACCTCTTTCTTCTAATATTGCTCACCAAGGATCATCTGTTGATTTAGCAATTTTTTCATTACATTTAGCAGGTATTTCTTCAATTTTAGGAGCTATTAACTTTATTACTACAATTATTAATATACGAGTTAAAAATTTATCATTTGATCAAATACCTTTATTTGTTTGATCAGTTGGAATTACAGCATTATTATTATTATTATCTTTACCTGTATTAGCAGGAGCAATTACTATACTTCTTACTGATCGAAATTTAAATACTTCTTTCTTTGACCCAGCAGGAGGAGGAGATCCAATTTTATATCAACACTTATTT
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Thymelicus lineola

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 10
Specimens with Barcodes: 109
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

As an introduced species, not of concern, although there is some evidence that this species might compete with and affect the behaviour of native Polites spp. in Ontario.
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Wikipedia

Essex skipper

The Essex skipper (Thymelicus lineola) is a butterfly of the Hesperiidae family. In North America, it is known as the European skipper.

Thymelicus lineola showing black underside to antennae tips

With a wingspan of 2.5 to 2.9 cm it is very similar in appearance to the small skipper Thymelicus sylvestris. They can be told apart by the undersides of the tips of the antennae: the Essex skipper's are black whereas those of the small skipper are orange. This butterfly occurs throughout much of the Palaearctic region. Its range spreads from southern Scandinavia through Europe to North Africa and east to Central Asia It was only identified in the UK in 1889 and its range is expanding both in England and in northern Europe. In North America, this butterfly was accidentally introduced in 1910 via London, Ontario and has spread across southern Canada[1] and to several northern US states.[2]

Life cycle[edit]

Eggs are laid in strings on the stems of grasses where they remain over the winter. The favoured foodplant is Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata) and it rarely uses the small skipper's favoured foodplant Yorkshire Fog. Other choices include Creeping Soft Grass (Holcus mollis), Couch Grass (Elymus repens), Timothy-grass (Phleum pratense), Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis), False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum) and Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum). The caterpillars emerge in the spring and feed until June before forming shelters from leaves tied with silk at the base of the foodplant to pupate. The adult flies from July to August. Like most skippers, they are fairly strictly diurnal, though individuals are very rarely encountered during the night.[3]

The egg is pale greenish-yellow, oval in shape, flattened above and below ; the top is slightly depressed.The caterpillar is green, with the incisions between the rings yellowish ; there is a darker green stripe on the back, and the lines on the sides are yellow. The head is pale brown and striped with darker brown. The chrysalis is long, yellowish-green in colour, and retains the dark dorsal stripe seen in the caterpillar.

References[edit]

  1. ^ European Skipper, Butterflies of Canada
  2. ^ "European Skipper". Butterflies and Moths of North America. Retrieved 14 May 2010. 
  3. ^ Fullard, James H. & Napoleone, Nadia (2001): Diel flight periodicity and the evolution of auditory defences in the Macrolepidoptera. Animal Behaviour 62(2): 349–368. PDF fulltextdoi:10.1006/anbe.2001.1753
  • Asher, Jim et al.: The Millennium Atlas of Butterflies of Britain and Ireland Oxford University Press
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