North American Ecology (US and Canada)
- Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press.
endemic to a single nation
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) The most widespread of the southeastern cane feeding AMBLYSCIRTES, occupying most of the range of canes (Arundinaria gigantea, A. tecta), i.e. much of the USA from the Atlantic coast west to the Mississippi Valley south of about 38 degrees North. There are records, but not necessarily extant persistent populations, in 60% of the counties in the Carolinas but infomration is less complete elsewhere. It is considered widespread but uncommon to rare in Kentucky with recent or old records from 21 counties (Covell, 1999).
The prominent white bands and wing veins beneath make identification relatively easy for a skipper. Upperside pattern is similar to several other species in this and other genera.
Comments: Habitat is cane breaks usually in dense hardwood forests including bottomland forests, often along streams. Primarily an inland species, e.g. mostly in the piedmont of Georgia.
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.
Comments: Larvae feed on foliage of cane. Adults utilize a variety of flowers and visit mud puddles.
Flowering Plants Visited by Amblyscirtes aesculapius in Illinois
(observations are from the Hilton Pond Center, Fothergill & Vaughn; this is the Lace-Winged Roadside Skipper)
Fabaceae: Trifolium repens sn (FV); Pontederiaceae: Pontederia cordata sn (HPC)
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
See Tveten and Tveten (1996) for a first hand account of the life history.
Life History and Behavior
Comments: Probably more than two broods per year. Adults occur from March or April to September in at least most of the range. Scott (1986) reports only June to September northward but Heitzman and Heitzman (1987) report three broods (mid April to mid September) in Missouri near the northern limit of the range. Larvae hibernate and might perhaps also aestivate.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Amblyscirtes aesculapius
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This species is local but widespread, and uncommon in some parts of its range. A thorough evaluation of its status would probably lead to a change of the rank to G4, apparently secure. On the other hand the entire entire genus could be declining in the east. This is the most secure of the three cane-feeding Amblyscirtes species, but it's not known how many occurrences exist and how many are viable over the long term. Rank Calculator rank comes out "G4?", however G4 seems like by far the most likely rank and G3 really the only other plausible one.
Intrinsic Vulnerability: Not intrinsically vulnerable
Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.
Comments: Probably basically needs some sort of wooded habitat with canes, nectar sources, and a compatible fire regimen.
Other Considerations: This one is relatively easy to identify and in most cases this can be done from a good image of the underside. While vouchering with specimens would be preferable, photographic records should usually be accepatable.
Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable to decline of 30%
Comments: Probably more or less stable. Certainly not rapidly declining.
Global Long Term Trend: Decline of 50-90%
Degree of Threat: High - medium
Comments: The usual for a southeastern skipper, especially a cane feeder: habitat loss and fragmentation to development and even aged pine farms, probably suboptimal to incompatible fire regimens in many places, but in some parts of range fires suppression could also be a problem. Firee ants ants might be a problem since pupae are on the ground in the overwintering brood.
Global Protection: Many to very many (13 to >40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Stewardship Overview: All stages are above ground and at least most of the year is spent on the canes, although it is possible hibernation is off the plant nearer the ground. Therefore prescribed burns that consume or scorch the canes and leaf litter will kill most or all larvae except in skips unless perhaps if the canes are wet. Refugia should be allowed when burning cane stands since these can harbor many uncommon to very rare Lepidoptera. Since this and most of the skippers have two or more broods each year recovery from refugia should occur quickly unless the species needs relatively mature canes. A given cane patch should not be burned every year or two years. Gypsy moth is now present in some parts of the range and will become a problem in most of the range, although probably not in habitats of this skipper unless they contain substantial oaks. The relatively late first brood peak (late May-mid June) in much of the range (Glassberg, 1999) suggests larvae overwinter in an earlier instar than most skippers, which could make them more sensitive to BTK applications aimed at gypsy moth. However, there is no way to be sure what the impacts from BTK would be for mid instar caterpillars of a species that has not been assayed (Peacock et al., 1998). Gypsy moth itself is unlikely to have any significant impact. Clear cutting would probably eliminate an occurrence for many years, but impact from selective harvest is difficult to predict.
Amblyscirtes aesculapius (the lace-winged roadside skipper) is a butterfly of the Hesperiidae family. It is found from eastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas, east to south-east Virginia, south along the Atlantic Coast to northern Florida.
The wingspan is 30–38 mm. Adults are on wing from March to September. There are two generations per year.
The larvae probably feed on Arundinaria species. Adults feed on the nectar from various flowers, including elephant's-foot, sweet pepperbush, blackberry, white clover, selfheal and dogbane.
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