Overview

Brief Summary

North American Ecology (US and Canada)

Neonympha mitchellii is a resident of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio (Scott 1986). Habitats are sphagnum bogs. Host plants are probably sedges (Cyperaceae). Eggs are laid on the stems singly. Individuals overwinter as fourth stage larvae. There is one flight with the approximate flight time late June-July 15 (Scott 1986).
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Distribution

This species is only found in the United States. There are two recognized subspecies, Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii (Mitchell's satyr) and N. mitchellii francisi (Saint Francis' satyr). Historically there were 30+ isolated populations of N. mitchellii mitchellii in the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey, and possibly Maryland. Currently, there are 19 known populations remaining, 17 in Michigan and 2 in northern Indiana (C. Tansy, USFWS, personal communication, Hyde et al. 2001).

There are 12 known populations of Saint Francis' satyrs in the southeastern United States. The first identified population was discovered in the Sandhills region of North Carolina in 1983. In 1998, intensive survey efforts located 10 more populations in Virginia, and in 2000 one population was discovered in Alabama.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Glassberg, J. 2001. Mitchell's satyr rides again. American Butterflies, 9(3): 16-21.
  • Hall, S. 1993. A rangewide status survey of Saint Francis' satyr, Neonympha mitchellii francisi (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Asheville, NC: 44 pp.
  • Hyde, D., M. Rabe, D. Cuthrell, M. Kost. 2001. Surveys for the recovery of Mitchell's satyr butterfly Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii in Michigan. Final report - 2000. Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft. Snelling, MN: 1-97.
  • Recovery Plan for the Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly <>. Ft. Snelling, MN: US Fish and Wildlife Service. 1998.
  • Roble, S., C. Kessler, B. Grimes, C. Hobson, A. Chazal. 2001. Biology and conservation status of Neonympha mitchellii, a globally rare butterly new to the Virginia fauna. Banisteria, 18: 3-23.
  • Saint Francis' Satyr Recovery Plan. Asheville, NC: US Fish and Wildlife Service. 1996.
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endemic to a single nation

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (5000-200,000 square km (about 2000-80,000 square miles)) Mitchell's Satyr has a very spotty range within several widely disjunct regions which seem best treated separately, the only two substantial ones would be in southern Michigan and adjacent Indiana, and probably Alabama-Mississippi. Treating most of the eastern US as the range for the species would be misleading. Subspecies mitchellii occurred very disjunctly in calcareous regions along the last glacial maximum in northwestern New Jersey, a single site in Ohio, and with its main range along the Michigan-Indiana border. The Michigan-Indiana range would form a polygon of a few thousand square km. The Virginia are in a few adjacent counties would perhaps double that. In the late 1990s and since N. mitchellii populations were found in southwestern Virginia and in southeastern Alabama and Mississippi. It is known in Mississippi from two collections in 2003, one in Prentiss County and one in Tishomingo County (Tom Mann, pers. comm., 2009), with this last possibly the largest range segment. So three areas of a few thousand square miles, witth the possibility of a larger undocumented southern range. The species no longer occurs in New Jersey. The original range of subspecies francisci can probably never be determined and its miniscule range adds virtually nothing to the total range extent. It has only been found so far as known (2005) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It does not occur in the New Jersey Pine Barrens as might be expected on biogeographical grounds and where a lot of seemingly suitable habitat occurs. If it is extant elsewhere, other places in the Carolina Sand Hills region or perhaps the Florida panhandle-southern Alabama seem least unlikely but the population there does not appear to be that taxon. Old reports from Ft. Meade, on the fall line in Maryland for this species are discounted as probable errors, perhaps for N. helicta which produces variants with rounded eyespots, and there are no specimens extant. No species of the genus is actually documented in or near Maryland, although potential former habitats there would seem to have have been possibly suitable for N. mitchellii considering the variety of habitats it is now known to use (Kuefler et al., 2008).

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Geographic Range

The species is only found in the United States. There are two recognized subspecies: Mitchell's satyr and Saint Francis' satyr. Historically there were more than 30 isolated populations of Mitchell's satyr in the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey, and possibly Maryland. Currently, there are 19 known populations remaining, 17 in Michigan and 2 in northern Indiana (C. Tansy, USFWS, personal communication, Hyde et al. 2001).

There are 12 known populations of Saint Francis' satyrs in the southeastern United States. The first identified population was discovered in the Sandhills region of North Carolina in 1983. In 1998, intensive survey efforts located 10 more populations in Virginia, and in 2000 one population was discovered in Alabama.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Glassberg, J. 2001. Mitchell's satyr rides again. American Butterflies, 9(3): 16-21.
  • Hall, S. 1993. A rangewide status survey of Saint Francis' satyr, Neonympha mitchellii francisi (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Asheville, NC: 44 pp.
  • Hyde, D., M. Rabe, D. Cuthrell, M. Kost. 2001. Surveys for the recovery of Mitchell's satyr butterfly Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii in Michigan. Final report - 2000. Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft. Snelling, MN: 1-97.
  • Recovery Plan for the Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly <>. Ft. Snelling, MN: US Fish and Wildlife Service. 1998.
  • Roble, S., C. Kessler, B. Grimes, C. Hobson, A. Chazal. 2001. Biology and conservation status of Neonympha mitchellii, a globally rare butterly new to the Virginia fauna. Banisteria, 18: 3-23.
  • Saint Francis' Satyr Recovery Plan. Asheville, NC: US Fish and Wildlife Service. 1996.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Mitchell's satyrs are small, brown butterflies that are unmarked on the upper surface of the wings. They can be identified by rows of round, black, yellow-ringed ocelli (eyespots) along the margins of the ventral wings. There are two orange lines that border the undersides of both fore- and hind-wings. Females are slightly lighter in color. The forewings of the males range from 1.6 - 1.8 cm; females are larger, ranging from 1.8 - 2.1 cm.

Saint Francis' satyrs have subtle differences from Mitchell's satyrs. They possess a much darker ground color, and the eyespots are usually more irregular in shape and have thinner rings encircling them. Roble examined individuals from Virginia and North Carolina and found that both populations have the frequent presence of obliquely oriented third and fourth hind ocelli.

The eggs of both subspecies are greenish-white to cream colored and become tan when they age. They are spheroidal or rounded cubical, with a diameter of 0.8 - 1.0 mm. The surfaces of the eggs are covered with five or six-sided shallow cells that are described as "irregularly polygonal" (McAlpine 1960). The dark head of the larvae is visible one to two days before hatching.

McAlpine et al. (1960) give a detailed description of all larval stages from captive-reared individuals. The measurements that follow the larval descriptions are from these individuals and may or may not reflect the sizes found in natural settings. The first instar larvae have a pale ochre or light yellow-green color after they first emerge. After feeding their color changes to light lime green. Their heads are medium to dark violet brown to black with a silky sheen, and are very large and bilobate. They have pale white lateral stripes and a bifurcate (two-branched) tail. Their lengths at emergence were 2.5 - 3.0 mm and their final lengths before molting were 4.5 - 6.0 mm. Second instar larvae possess a light lime green body. Their heads are smaller in relation to their bodies than in first instar. Their heads and bodies are covered irregularly and densely with small, fleshy, light colored papillae. The white striping is more pronounced in this stage. Their lengths at emergence were 4.5-6.0 mm and their final lengths before molting were 7.5-11 mm. The lime green color deepens slightly in the third instar stage. Their heads and bodies are very densely covered with whitish papillae. The white striping in this stage is more pronounced. Their lengths at emergence were 7.5-11 mm and their final lengths before molting were 9-13 mm. Fourth instar larvae are very similar to the previous stage. Different shades of lime green begin to appear in longitudinal bands. Their lengths at emergence were 9-13 mm and their final lengths before diapausing were 11-16 mm. Fifth instar larvae are very similar to fourth instar larvae. The surfaces of their heads are rough, covered with fine green and white papillae. Their lengths were 11-19 mm. Sixth instar larvae differ only in length from the previous stage. Their lengths were 19-28 mm. Szymanski and Shuey (2002) recorded larval lengths of 15-38 mm in two wild individuals.

Pupae are generally light lime green in color, except the venation of the wing sheaths and the abdomen, which are slightly darker and bluish. There is some pale green or whitish mottling. Pupae are stout and truncate at the anterior end and taper posteriorly. Pupal lengths were 10.5-15.5 mm.

Range wingspan: 1.6 to 2.1 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes colored or patterned differently

  • 2001. "Mitchell's Satyr Photos" (On-line image). Accessed 02/18/03 at http://www.vireos.com/mitchellssatyr.html.
  • McAlpine, W., S. Hubbell, T. Pliske. 1960. The distribution, habits, and life history of Euptychia mitchellii (Satyridae). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, 14(3): 209-226.
  • Opler, P., G. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies East of the Great Plains. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.
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Physical Description

Mitchell's satyrs are small, brown butterflies that are unmarked on the upper surface of the wings. Their wings have rows of round, black, yellow-ringed "eyespots" on the undersides of their wings. They have two orange lines that border the undersides of both fore- and hind-wings. Females are slightly lighter in color than males. The forewings of the males range from 1.6 - 1.8 cm; females are larger, ranging from 1.8 - 2.1 cm.

Saint Francis' satyrs are slightly different than Mitchell's satyrs. They are darker, and the eyespots are usually more irregular in shape and they are circled by thinniner rings.

The eggs of both subspecies are greenish-white to cream colored and become tan when they age. The dark head of the larvae is visible one to two days before hatching.

The caterpillars of this species can be different shades of green with white stripes on their sides. Young caterpillars have purple or black heads, and older caterpillars have small, white or green projections on their heads.

Pupae are generally light lime green in color, with some blue. There is also some pale green or whitish speckling. Pupal lengths are 10.5 - 15.5 mm.

Range wingspan: 1.6 to 2.1 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes colored or patterned differently

  • 2001. "Mitchell's Satyr Photos" (On-line image). Accessed 02/18/03 at http://www.vireos.com/mitchellssatyr.html.
  • McAlpine, W., S. Hubbell, T. Pliske. 1960. The distribution, habits, and life history of Euptychia mitchellii (Satyridae). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, 14(3): 209-226.
  • Opler, P., G. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies East of the Great Plains. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.
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Ecology

Habitat

Most known habitats for Mitchell's satyrs are peatlands ranging on a continuum from prairie/bog fens to sedge meadow/swamps. They are sedge dominated, usually by Carex stricta, and have scattered deciduous and coniferous trees such as tamarack (Larix laricina) and red cedar (Juniperus virginianus). The fens are comprised of a mosaic of community types. Mitchell's satyrs restrict their activities to the interface zone between open sedge meadows and dense stands of shrubs or tamarack savannah areas. Shuey (1998) suggests a minimum habitat size of 8 ha (20 acres).

In North Carolina, Saint Francis' satyrs occur in sedge dominated, acidic, boggy wetlands within the Sandhills region. These are sedge meadows surrounded by open, fire-maintained forestland, and open, hillside seepages. In Virginia, they are found in open canopy, bulrush (Scirpus spp.) and sedge (Carex spp.) dominated, boggy seepage wetlands. There is light to moderate grazing by livestock at these sites. Habitat size ranges from 0.16 ha (0.4 acres) to 8 ha (20 acres), with the majority between 0.16 ha and 1.21 ha (0.4 - 3.0 acres). They differ from the northern sites in that they are neither calcareous wetlands or bog fens (it should be noted there are very few calcareous wetlands in Virginia), yet they are similar in vegetative structure. There is very limited shrub cover at the Virginia sites, primarily smooth alder (Alnus serrutalata). There are ground water seepages and springs at most sites, and mud or gravel bottom streams in all sites. The dominant plant species is bulrush (Scirpus expansus).

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp ; bog

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

  • Kost, M. 2000. Vegetation characteristics of Mitchell's satyr Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii habitat. Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft.Snelling, MN: 1-25.
  • Rabe, M., M. Kost, H. Enander, E. Schools. 2002. Use of a GIS based habitat model to identify potential release sites. Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft. Snelling, MN: 34 pp.
  • Shuey, J. 1997. Conservation status and natural history of Mitchell's satyr Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii French (Insecta: Lepidopters: Nymphalidae). Natural Areas Journal, 17: 153-163.
  • Szymanski, J. 1999. Population and spatial ecology of the Mitchell's satyr butterfly, *Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii>> French, in southwestern Michigan. Master's Thesis, University of MN: 78 pp.
  • Szymanski, J., J. Shuey. 2002. Conservation strategy for Mitchell's satyr butterfly at ...(site name deleted). Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft. Snelling, MN: 92 pp.
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Comments: For subspecies MITCHELLII calcareous fen complexes but not necessarily the most exemplary part from a botanical perspective. Some habitats would be called sedge meadows rather than fens. Typically, CAREX STRICTA is the dominant sedge. Presence of tall shrubs or larches for cover probably important. Past land use may also be an important factor since the subspecies is now basically relictual. See recovery plan for more detail. Habitats in New Jersey were similar to those in Michigan, but smaller. Precise habitat parameters are not well known. For subspecies FRANCISCI see separate documentation, but basically beaver and/or fire maintained sedge meadows in a wet southern pineland landscape. Habitats for subspecifically unassigned populations in southwestern Virginia are apparently similar to those farther north, that is more or less limey CAREX STRICTA meadows.

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Mitchell's satyrs prefer wetlands such as bogs, fens, and sedge meadows. These habitats contain mostly sedges, with trees such as tamarack and red cedar. These butterflies generally use the areas on the edges of sedge meadows and dense stands of shrubs or tamarack trees.

In North Carolina and Virginia, Saint Francis' satyrs also occur in wetlands dominated by sedges. There is light to moderate grazing by livestock at these sites. There is very limited shrub cover at the Virginia sites, primarily smooth alder (Alnus_serrutalata). There are ground water seepages and springs at most sites, and mud or gravel bottom streams in all sites. The dominant plant species is bulrush (Scirpus_expansus).

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp ; bog

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

  • Kost, M. 2000. Vegetation characteristics of Mitchell's satyr Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii habitat. Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft.Snelling, MN: 1-25.
  • Rabe, M., M. Kost, H. Enander, E. Schools. 2002. Use of a GIS based habitat model to identify potential release sites. Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft. Snelling, MN: 34 pp.
  • Shuey, J. 1997. Conservation status and natural history of Mitchell's satyr Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii French (Insecta: Lepidopters: Nymphalidae). Natural Areas Journal, 17: 153-163.
  • Szymanski, J. 1999. Population and spatial ecology of the Mitchell's satyr butterfly, *Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii>> French, in southwestern Michigan. Master's Thesis, University of MN: 78 pp.
  • Szymanski, J., J. Shuey. 2002. Conservation strategy for Mitchell's satyr butterfly at ...(site name deleted). Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft. Snelling, MN: 92 pp.
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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

Mitchell's satyr larvae appear to feed on a variety of sedges and possibly one or more species of bulrushes (Scirpus spp.). Larvae have been reared to maturity on Carex alopecoidea and Scirpus atrivirens, but rejected Carex stricta, a species commonly thought of as the main foodplant (McAlpine 1960). Larvae accepted Carex stricta and Carex prairea during foodplant studies by Szymanski and Shuey (2002). Legge and Rabe (1996) confirmed larval feeding on Carex lasiocarpa and saw evidence of feeding on C. stricta. Saint Francis' satyrs are believed to feed on sedges as well, particularly Carex expansus. Other potential foodplants include C. stricta, Carex vulpinoidea, and bulrush (Scirpus atrivirens).

Adult Mitchell's satyrs have been observed nectaring on mountain mint (Pycanthemum virginianum), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta), and swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). Adult Saint Francis' satyrs are known to nectar on swamp milkweed (A. incarnata), common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota), and crown vetch (Coronilla varia).

Plant Foods: leaves; nectar

Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore , Nectarivore )

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Comments: Larvae feed on sedges but precise species are not known. See documentations for the subspecies.

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Food Habits

Mitchell's satyr larvae appear to feed on a variety of sedges and possibly one or more species of bulrushes (Scirpus spp.). Saint Francis' satyrs are believed to feed on sedges as well, particularly Carex_expansus.

Adult Mitchell's satyrs have been observed eating the nectar of mountain mint (Pycanthemum_virginianum), black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia_hirta), and swamp milkweed (Asclepias_incarnata). Adult Saint Francis' satyrs are known to eat the nectar of swamp milkweed (A._incarnata), common milkweed (Asclepias_syriaca), yarrow (Achillea_millefolium), Queen Anne's lace (Daucus_carota), and crown vetch (Coronilla_varia).

Plant Foods: leaves; nectar

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Associations

The role of N. mitchellii in the ecosystem is that of prey for the previously mentioned predators. They may also serve as pollinators to some degree, and the larvae may be significant herbivores on sedge plants.

Ecosystem Impact: pollinates

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We don't have specific information on predators of these satyrs. Common predators of butterflies (Lepidoptera) include birds, spiders, ants, and parasitic wasps.

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Ecosystem Roles

The role of N._mitchellii in the ecosystem is that of prey for the previously mentioned predators. They may also serve as pollinators to some degree, and the larvae may be significant herbivores on sedge plants.

Ecosystem Impact: pollinates

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Predation

We don't have specific information on predators of these satyrs. Common predators of butterflies (Lepidoptera) include Aves, Araneae, Formicidae, and Hymenoptera.

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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: 6 - 80

Comments: See also subspecies N. m. mitchellii. The number of discrete occurrences is unclear, but only one or two for subspecies francisci both on the same US military base. The 17 "subpopulations" in Alabama (Kuefler et al. (2008) need to be better evaluated. It is not clear whether these cluster into metapopulations as in N. m. francisci, which be best treated as a few high quality occurrences. Many of the more northern populations are apparently quite small and some may no longer exist. See discussion for that subspecies. It is known in Mississippi from two collections in 2003, one in Prentiss County and one in Tishomingo County (Tom Mann, pers. comm., 2009).

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Global Abundance

2500 - 10,000 individuals

Comments: This is an educated guess. Barton and Bach (2005) provide an MRR estimate of about 1100 for a Michigan site in 2003. This is probably the largest extant population of the species. Kuefler et al. (2008) report about a two fold fluctuation over several years, which is quite modest and most of this variation may have reflected habitat changes/instability. Allowing for inaccessible portions of the habitat, and assuming these contribute roughly as many adults as the portions that were studies, their data suggest around 1500 to 2500, or slightly more, most years for subspecies francisci. Populations in stable relict habitats probably do not fluctuate as much. Since it seems nearly certain that excessive collecting really did contribute to the extirpation of this species in New Jersey, as far as known, a unique case among North American butterflies, it is very likely that populations there were only a few dozen adults per year. Casual observation suggests some others are also dozens to at most a few hundred. The geographic range is large enough that populations would not fluctuate synchronously range-wide. While there is no estimate for most populations and MRR for very few, it is quite unlikely the total adults is under 2500 in any given year.

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General Ecology

Ecology of the subspecies is very different. See accounts for each.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

There have been no reports of communication in this species. Potential mates probably rely on chemical senses and vision to communicate. Females probably locate suitable egg-laying sites with a combination of visual and olfactory cues.

Communication Channels: visual ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; chemical

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Communication and Perception

Not much is nown about how this species communicates. As in many butterflies, chemical cues may be important in mating, as is vision. Females probably use vision and smell to find good sites to lay their eggs.

Communication Channels: visual ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; chemical

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Cyclicity

Comments: Larvae occur most of the year and hibernate partially grown. Adults occur in late June to mid July in most places but May-June and late July- August in North Carolina. Apparently flew latest in New Jersey. See separate documentation for subspecies. Adult activity may extend later in the day than most butterflies but they are not crepuscular.

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Life Cycle

Larvae in both subspecies go through five molts before pupation. In univoltine populations, larvae undergo three molts before diapausing in the fall. There are two additional molts in the spring followed by pupation in June.

In captive reared Mitchell's satyrs, the duration of the egg stage was 7-11 days; first instar 11-18 days; second instar 11-16 days; third instar 16-27 days; the fourth instar diapaused from early September to late May; fifth instar 15-18 days; and the six instar 20-25 days. The pupal stage lasted 10-15 days.

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis ; diapause

  • Legge, J., M. Rabe. 1996. Observations of oviposition and larval ecology in caged Mitchell's satyr butterflies Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft. Snelling, MN: 17 pp.
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Development

Caterpillars in both subspecies go through five molts before they become pupae. In some populations, the caterpillars become dormant in the fall, and become active again the following spring.

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis ; diapause

  • Legge, J., M. Rabe. 1996. Observations of oviposition and larval ecology in caged Mitchell's satyr butterflies Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft. Snelling, MN: 17 pp.
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Life Expectancy

The lifespan for an adult is approximately three weeks. If they are dormant in the winter, then they may live up to a year at most.

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Lifespan/Longevity

The lifespan for an adult is approximately three weeks. If they are dormant in the winter, then they may live up to a year at most.

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Reproduction

Males spend most of their time patrolling for females. Male-to-male chases are common and resemble territorial behavior. Females are relatively inactive and stay down in the vegetation. No courtship behaviors have been recorded. Mating and oviposition generally occur in mid-late afternoon.

Mating takes place soon after females emerge. Mitchell's satyr females exhibit two behavioral stages prior to egg-laying. First, the females engage in a dispersal flight followed by an inspection flight. They fly just below or at the level of the vegetation seeking out appropriate host plants. In the second stage, the females make a short hop down into the vegetation after a brief resting period. They will either lay eggs immediately, or begin fluttering low in the vegetation. Egg laying will then commence if the substrate is accepted. If it is rejected, the female will engage in another dispersal flight.

Females tend to oviposit in the interface zones between habitat patches (most often within one meter of shrubs), laying their eggs close to the ground on a variety of small forbs. Oviposition has also been observed to occur on dead leaves (Legge and Rabe 1996). Eggs have been placed on the undersides of leaves and on stems, and are most often laid in clusters.

Breeding interval: Mitchell's satyrs reproduce once per year, Saint Francis' satyrs breed twice per year in North Caroloina, once in Virginia; breeding interval in Alabama unknown.

Breeding season: Flight dates for Mitchell's satyr range from late June through mid-July. In Virginia, Saint Francis' satyrs fly from early to late July. Saint Francis' satyr populations in North Carolina are active from early May through early June and again from late July through late August.

Range eggs per season: 107 (high) .

Key Reproductive Features: semelparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

There is no parental care in this species. Females supply their eggs with nourishment, but once they have laid their eggs, they have no further interaction with their offspring.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female)

  • Darlow, N. 2000. Behavior, Habitat Usage, and Oviposition of the Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly, Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii . Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft. Snelling, MN: 43 pp..
  • Legge, J., M. Rabe. 1996. Observations of oviposition and larval ecology in caged Mitchell's satyr butterflies Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft. Snelling, MN: 17 pp.
  • McAlpine, W., S. Hubbell, T. Pliske. 1960. The distribution, habits, and life history of Euptychia mitchellii (Satyridae). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, 14(3): 209-226.
  • Recovery Plan for the Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly <>. Ft. Snelling, MN: US Fish and Wildlife Service. 1998.
  • Roble, S., C. Kessler, B. Grimes, C. Hobson, A. Chazal. 2001. Biology and conservation status of Neonympha mitchellii, a globally rare butterly new to the Virginia fauna. Banisteria, 18: 3-23.
  • Saint Francis' Satyr Recovery Plan. Asheville, NC: US Fish and Wildlife Service. 1996.
  • Szymanski, J. 1999. Population and spatial ecology of the Mitchell's satyr butterfly, *Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii>> French, in southwestern Michigan. Master's Thesis, University of MN: 78 pp.
  • Szymanski, J., J. Shuey. 2002. Conservation strategy for Mitchell's satyr butterfly at ...(site name deleted). Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft. Snelling, MN: 92 pp.
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Males spend most of their time looking for females. Males often chase one another. Females are not very active and generally stay within vegeatation. No courtship behaviors have been recorded. Mating and egg-laying generally occur in mid to late afternoon.

Before they lay eggs, female Mitchell's satyrs must find a sot in the vegetation to lay their eggs. Once they settle on a spot, they either lay their eggs immediately or flutter in the vegetation. If a female decides the spot is good, she'll lay her eggs. If not, she'll try to find another spot.

Females often lay their eggs close to the ground on small plants, under leaves and stems, and even on dead leaves. They generally lay eggs in clusters.

Breeding interval: Mitchell's satyrs reproduce once per year, Saint Francis' satyrs breed twice per year in North Caroloina, once in Virginia; breeding interval in Alabama unknown.

Breeding season: Flight dates for Mitchell's satyr range from late June through mid-July. In Virginia, Saint Francis' satyrs fly from early to late July. Saint Francis' satyr populations in North Carolina are active from early May through early June and again from late July through late August.

Range eggs per season: 107 (high) .

Key Reproductive Features: semelparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

There is no parental care in this species. Females supply their eggs with nourishment, but once they have laid their eggs, they have no further interaction with their offspring.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female)

  • Darlow, N. 2000. Behavior, Habitat Usage, and Oviposition of the Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly, Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii . Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft. Snelling, MN: 43 pp..
  • Legge, J., M. Rabe. 1996. Observations of oviposition and larval ecology in caged Mitchell's satyr butterflies Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft. Snelling, MN: 17 pp.
  • McAlpine, W., S. Hubbell, T. Pliske. 1960. The distribution, habits, and life history of Euptychia mitchellii (Satyridae). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society, 14(3): 209-226.
  • Recovery Plan for the Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly <>. Ft. Snelling, MN: US Fish and Wildlife Service. 1998.
  • Roble, S., C. Kessler, B. Grimes, C. Hobson, A. Chazal. 2001. Biology and conservation status of Neonympha mitchellii, a globally rare butterly new to the Virginia fauna. Banisteria, 18: 3-23.
  • Saint Francis' Satyr Recovery Plan. Asheville, NC: US Fish and Wildlife Service. 1996.
  • Szymanski, J. 1999. Population and spatial ecology of the Mitchell's satyr butterfly, *Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii>> French, in southwestern Michigan. Master's Thesis, University of MN: 78 pp.
  • Szymanski, J., J. Shuey. 2002. Conservation strategy for Mitchell's satyr butterfly at ...(site name deleted). Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Ft. Snelling, MN: 92 pp.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Neonympha mitchellii

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


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Neonympha mitchellii

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 48
Specimens with Barcodes: 48
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Both Mitchell's satyr and Saint Francis' satyr are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Mitchell's satyr is also listed as endangered in the state of Michigan.

The decline of Mitchell's satyr across its range has been attributed to several factors related to habitat loss; 1) destruction due to development, 2) changes in hydrology, 3) invasion by aggressive native (Typhall spp.) and non-native plant species, and 4) suppression of natural disturbance events important to maintain fen habitat such as fire and possibly beaver (Castor canadensis) activity.

US Federal List: endangered

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: endangered

  • Hall, S. 1994. Supplement to the rangewide status survey of Saint Francis' satyr Neonympha mitchellii francisi (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) 1993 field season. Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service: 26 pp.
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service Region 3. 1999. "Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly - Endangered Species Fact Sheet" (On-line ). Endangered Species. Accessed 02/18/03 at http://midwest.fws.gov/endangered/insects/mitchell.html.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G2 - Imperiled

Reasons: Mitchell's Satyr has been eliminated from Ohio and New Jersey, and is believed to be critically imperiled in Indiana. There are two good occurrences and several smaller degraded occurrences in Michigan, and a few strong populations in Virginia. Degree of threats is high northward and populations seem to typically be small (a few hundred or less). Habitat of northern populations itself is globally uncommon and few examples have this butterfly. Potential for natural colonization events now at best extremely low northward, and is unclear in Alabama or Mississippi. There are probably less than 20 really viable populations but more could turn up in Mississippi, Alabama, perhaps Georgia, or elsewhere. There is not much chance of any substantial number of new occurrences being found from New Jersey to Michigan. Small populations have died out due to apparently natural fluctuations, at least in Michigan. The species may become management-dependent, especially in North Carolina and Virginia-but also northward depending on invasive plant issues, although current management is not a threat. Subspecies francisci is not imminently threatened, but is only one or two occurrences. Rank Calulator 3.1 rank is G2G3 with a value of C for number of occurrences with good viability. G2 is selected because there are more than a dozen extant populations with some protection for many of them. Also the sole occurrence of the North Carolina subspecies is a substantial metapopulation and it is possible there are similar occurrences in Alabama.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable

Comments: Some recent populations have been lost for uncertain reasons. Small population sizes suspected, in some places documented, at most sites leaving them vulnerable to many factors. Subspecies francisci habitats are unstable, fire maintained, often created originally by beavers, and all stages are vulnerable to fire if the actual habitat burns.

Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.

Other Considerations: Both subspecies are Federally listed as Endangered which protects from deliberate take, so collecting is unlikely to be an issue now due to severe penalties. This appears to be the only US butterfly species for which a credible (actually strong) case can be made that collectors have contributed substantially to its rarity, specifically frequent collecting probably contributed to the demise of the last two known colonies in New Jersey and some in Michigan may have been temporarily depleted but, if so, apparently recovered. However, claims that collectors nearly wiped out francisci are now known to be incorrect. While collection might, or might not, have impacted one subpopulation temporarily, that one has recovered, and is part of a larger metapopulation in which few, if any, colonies are permanent. On the other hand the lack of historic collecting in much of the Deep South leaves the historic range and status there virtually unknown. This species also could be overlooked or falsely reported in the South since it is similar to N. halicta. However, known colonies are documented by at least diagnostic photographs.

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Both Mitchell's satyr and Saint Francis' satyr are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Mitchell's satyr is also listed as endangered in the state of Michigan.

Habitat loss is the major cause of their decline. This habitat loss may be caused by 1) development, 2) changes in water use, 3) invasive species, 4) prevention of natural fires and beaver activity. Often, periodic fires are very important and necessary to maintain certain types of ecosystems.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: not evaluated

US Federal List: endangered

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: endangered

  • Hall, S. 1994. Supplement to the rangewide status survey of Saint Francis' satyr Neonympha mitchellii francisi (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) 1993 field season. Report to the US Fish and Wildlife Service: 26 pp.
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service Region 3. 1999. "Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly - Endangered Species Fact Sheet" (On-line ). Endangered Species. Accessed 02/18/03 at http://midwest.fws.gov/endangered/insects/mitchell.html.
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: Has stabilized, at least in Michigan and Indiana, as a direct result of listing under the US Endangered Species Act; seems stable in North Carolina and Virginia, and as far as known elsewhere.

Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 10-90%

Comments: Considered extipated in New Jersey and the one Ohio site is now farmland, but otherwise there is little basis for any speculation. A few small colonies in Michigan have also apparently died out. Most populations were probably destroyed long ago for agriculture and other uses, but all that is certain is that there has been substantial decline.

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Threats

Degree of Threat: High - medium

Comments: Former threats and causes for decline included filling of habitats, overcollecting (New Jersey), ORVs (Michigan), possibly mosquito spraying. Federal listing has probably eliminated the threat from over-collecting, and provides a lot of protection on Federal lands. While threats to some sites on private property could arise in the future for now the threat level from direct human activities seems low, and in most places should remain so as long as ESA protection remains in place. However there are are possible serious threats to the habitat and all of these factors have destroyed or damaged similar habitats. Development of surrounding uplands could alter hydrology of habitats as is happening now to some fens in New Jersey. Beaver can destroy fens within a few days and create or destroy sedge meadows very quickly. Invasion by purple loosestrife and/or Phragmites can destroy habitats over a few years and is a threat at least northward. Excess deer herbivory can reduce or eliminate nectar sources although it is not known how important flowers actually are (Barb Barton has documented nectaring several times in Michigan). It is not known whether deer could seriously damage the foodplants or consume many larvae. While in most cases population sizes are not really known, it seems very likely some or even many are only dozens to around a couple hundred adults per year and certainly subpopulations often are. Since almost or quite all occurrences of subspecies mitchellii, unless maybe in Alabama, are now completely isolated there is a high risk of extirpation of smaller occurences during any natural "bad years" and a strong probability some loss of genetic variability has occurred in some populations. Climate change could eliminate populations if habitats become drier and thus more vulnerable to succession. This is one of very few species of Lepidoptera, probably the only one, in the eastern US for which anecdotal reports of potentially widespread impacts from collecting are credible, especially in New Jersey where both of the last two known small populations were subject to repeated collecting, less likely in Michigan, but very unlikely elsewhere. See USFWS documentation.

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Management

Biological Research Needs: The foodplants are still not well documented. It would be very useful to better characterize the current composition and biogeography of occupied habitats, which would enable more targeted searches for possible new populations.

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Global Protection: Few to several (1-12) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Consult TNC and Heritage programs in North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana and Michigan for details. There is some degree of protection in North Carolina but apparently not much in Virginia where occurrences are on private property. At least some Alabama occurrences are on Federal land and this species is protected under the Endangered Species Act.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

There are no known adverse affects of Neonympha mitchellii on humans.

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Individuals traveling to observe these butterflies contribute to local economies directly, and to the national economy through the purchase of field equipment such as binoculars, field guides, and cameras.

Positive Impacts: ecotourism ; research and education

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of Neonympha mitchellii on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Individuals traveling to observe these butterflies contribute to local economies directly, and to the national economy through the purchase of field equipment such as binoculars, field guides, and cameras.

Positive Impacts: ecotourism ; research and education

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Wikipedia

Neonympha mitchellii

Neonympha mitchellii is an endangered species of nymphalid butterfly of the eastern United States.[3] There are two known subspecies:[3]

  • N. m. mitchellii, the nominate subspecies, commonly called Mitchell's satyr or Mitchell's marsh satyr,[5] is found in Michigan and Indiana.[3] The species is presumably extirpated from former ranges in Ohio (last seen in the 1950s), New Jersey (last seen in 1988), and Wisconsin.[3]
  • N. m. francisci (see main article), commonly called Saint Francis' satyr, is found in a single metapopulation in a 10x10 km area of Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

Recent discoveries since 1998 of populations in Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia are being studied for taxonomic classification, and may be grouped with N. m. mitchellii or be described as new subspecies.[3]

All subspecies, including those newly discovered, are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act.[3]

Description[edit]

Both subspecies are small, brown butterflies with a wingspan rage of 34–44 mm.[6][7] The upper surface of their wings are unmarked, while the undersides of the wings have rows of round, yellow-ringed eyespots.[8] N. m. francisci is slightly darker, with more irregularly shaped eyespots.[8]

Their eggs are greenish-white to cream, becoming tan as they age.[8] The larvae's dark head can be seen a day or two before hatching.[8] First instar larvae, 3–4 mm long, have dark brown bilobed heads, while four subsequent instars, 6–12 mm long, have green bilobed heads, and green bodies with raised white ridges along the sides.[3][8]

The chrysalis are 10.5–15.5 mm long, suspended with the head down.[3][8] It's a light lime green, with pale green or white speckling, and turns a medium brown about two days before eclosion.[3][8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Schweitzer, DF (2011). "Comprehensive Report Species – Neonympha mitchellii". NatureServe Explorer. NatureServe Inc. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "ITIS Standard Report Page: Neonympha mitchellii francisci". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hamm, C. A.; Rademacher, V.; Landis, D. A.; Williams, B. L. (2013). "Conservation Genetics and the Implication for Recovery of the Endangered Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly, Neonympha mitchellii mitchellii". Journal of Heredity 105 (1): 19–27. doi:10.1093/jhered/est073. ISSN 0022-1503. Retrieved 19 December 2013. .
  4. ^ Dyar, HG (1902). A list of North American lepidoptera and key to the literature of this order of insects. Washington: Governmetn Printing Office. p. 32. 
  5. ^ Albrecht, Carl W.; Watkins, Reed A. (July 1983). "mitchell's+marsh+satyr" A cross-reference to names of Ohio skippers and butterflies: (Insecta: Lepidoptera: Hesperioidea and Papilionoidea). College of Biological Sciences, The Ohio State University in cooperation with the Ohio Lepidopterists. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-86727-095-2. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Neonympha mitchellii mitchelli". Michigan Natural Features Inventory. College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Emergency Rule To List the Saint Francis' Satyr as Endangered". Federal Register 59 (74) (Government Printing Office). 18 April 1994. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g "Critter Catalog: Neonympha mitchellii, Mitchell's satyr". BioKIDS – Kids' Inquiry of Diverse Species. The University of Michigan. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: For information on the species as a whole see subspecies N. m. mitchellii. All recent workers, including Kuefler et al. (2008) retain N. m. francisci as a subspecies. It is also possible someone will name the apparently extinct New Jersey populations or those in Virginia or Alabama as subspecies, but known differences are relatively minor. For now these are included with N. m. mitchellii and there do not appear to be major biological differences although the habitat is a little different (more acidic and not fens) in Virginia (S. Roble) and see table in Kuelfer et al. (2008) for the others. DNA and other analyses (Goldstein et al., 2004) support treating franciisci as a valid taxon, and show no compelling reason not to retain the others as a single taxon. This entire genus is in need of serious study. D. Schweitzer

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