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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

European Skipper - Thymelicus lineola

Exotic Species (not native to Montana)

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNA

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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Layberry et al. 1998; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 1.2-1.3 cm. Small, underside of head and thorax white, wing fringes tan to light orange-brown. Uppersurface brassy orange, both wings with black margins that spread inward along veins, veins lined in black, stigma on male forewing narrow and black. Undersurface of forewing unmarked pale orange, hindwing unmarked grayish-brown.

Phenology
One flight, mostly June to mid-July, late July to early August in Newfoundland (Scott 1986). June to early August (Glassberg 2001). Early June to mid-August in Canada (Layberry et al. 1998). July to early August in Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981). Early June to early September in Washington and adjacent areas (Pyle 2002). Late June to mid-August in British Columbia (Threatful 1988; Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by a combination of small size, underside of head and thorax white, uppersurface brassy orange, both wings with black margins that spread inward along veins, stigma on male forewing narrow and black, undersurface of hindwing unmarked grayish-brown, paler than forewing.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Range Comments
Holarctic. Introduced accidently to North America near London, Ontario in 1910; range continues to expand, likely assisted through the distribution of commercial hay. Currently British Columbia and Washington east across southern Canada and adjacent US to Newfoundland, in Rocky Mountains south to central Utah and Colorado, in eastern US south to southern Missouri, northern North Carolina (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Layberry et al. 1998; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002; James and Nunnallee 2011; Butterflies and Moths of North America database); 456 m to 549 m elevation in southeastern British Columbia (Threatful 1988). In Montana, first reported in 1991 from Madison County (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993; Pyle 2002), since then from at least 24 counties, mostly in the western 1/2 of the state, also east along the Canadian border in Toole, Liberty, and Sheridan counties (FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database; Butterflies and Moths of North America database), to 2530 m elevation in Granite County, 3048 m elevation in Carbon County. Locally common (Glassberg 2001).

Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 15

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Non-migratory. Range continues to expand in West following initial spread (1910-1976) of 57-86 km/year in eastern Canada and US (Ferris and Brown 1981).

Habitat
Grassy meadows, hayfields, pastures, abandoned homesteads, grassy roadsides, urban parks and gardens, marshes (Scott 1986; Layberry et al. 1998; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002), across of full gradient of very disturbed to undisturbed sites (Hogsden and Hutchinson 2004); in upper Midwest more often in native prairie and hay fields than barrens (Swengel and Swengel 2015). Habitat in Montana not described but probably similar, including above treeline in alpine terrain (FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database).

Food Habits
Larval food plants are grasses, including Agropyron, Agrostis, Cynodon, Dactylis, Phalaris, and Phleum pratense, the primary host in North America (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986, 2006; Layberry et al. 1998; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Apocynum, Cirsium, Hieracium, Lotus, Medicago, Trifolium, Vicia) and mud (Pivnick and McNeil 1985, 1987; Pyle 2002; James and Nunnallee 2011; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs in strings of up to 20-30 end to end on concave side of host plant leaf or seed head. Eggs overwinter (diapause) as unhatched L1 instar following about 21 days of development, hatch following spring, develop to L5 instar and pupae in about 50 days post egg-hatch (depending on temperature), adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in about 7 days. Larvae solitary, construct tubular leaf nest in upper 1/3 of plant, feed nocturnally on host plant leaves, pupate on host plant in silk-tied leaves (Scott 1979, 1986; Layberry et al. 1998; Guppy and Shepard 2001; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males perch on tall grasses or patrol through grass throughout the day, seeking females (Scott 1986; Guppy and Shepard 2001; James and Nunnallee 2011).

References
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Citation for data on this website:
European Skipper — Thymelicus lineola.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from