European Skipper - Thymelicus lineola
[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.
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).
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.
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).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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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).
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).
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).
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).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown (eds). 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountains. Univ. of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 442 pp.
- Glassberg, J. 2001. Butterflies through Binoculars: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America. Oxford University Press.
- Guppy, C.S. and J.H. Shepard. 2001. Butterflies of British Columbia: including western Alberta, southern Yukon, the Alaska Panhandle, Washington, northern Oregon, northern Idaho, northwestern Montana. UBC Press (Vancouver, BC) and Royal British Columbia Museum (Victoria, BC). 414 pp.
- Hogsden, K.L. and T.C. Hutchinson. 2004. Butterfly assemblages along a human disturbance gradient in Ontario, Canada. Canadian Journal of Zoology 82: 739-748.
- James, D.G. and D. Nunnallee. 2011. Life histories of Cascadia butterflies. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press. 447 p.
- Kohler, S. 1980. Checklist of Montana Butterflies (Rhopalocera). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 34(1): 1-19.
- Layberry, R.A., P.W. Hall, and J.D. LaFontaine. 1998. The Butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press. 280 pp. + color plates.
- Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies. Second edition. Peterson Field Guides. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 540 pp.
- Opler, P.A., K. Lotts, and T. Naberhaus, coordinators. 2010. Butterflies and moths of North America. Big Sky Institute, Bozeman, MT. Available at: www.butterfliesandmoths.org (Accessed 15 June 2015).
- Pivnick, K.A. and J.N. McNeil. 1985. Effects of nectar concentration on butterfly feeding: measured feeding rates for Thymelicus lineola (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae) and a general feeding model for adult Lepidoptera. Oecologia 66:226-237.
- Pivnick, K.A. and J.N. McNeil. 1987. Puddling in butterflies: sodium affects reproductive success in Thymelicus lineola. Physiological Entomology 12:461-472.
- Pyle, R.M. 2002. The butterflies of Cascadia: a field guide to all the species of Washington, Oregon, and surrounding territories. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington. 420 pp.
- Scott, J.A. 1979. Hibernal diapause of North American Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 18(3): 171-200.
- Scott, J.A. 1986. The butterflies of North America: a natural history and field guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
- Scott, J.A. 2006. Butterfly hostplant records, 1992-2005, with a treatise on the evolution of Erynnis, and a note on new terminology for mate-locating behavior. Papilio new series #14. 74 p.
- Scott, J.A. 2014. Lepidoptera of North America 13. Flower visitation by Colorado butterflies (40,615 records) with a review of the literature on pollination of Colorado plants and butterfly attraction (Lepidoptera: Hersperioidea and Papilionoidea). Contributions of the C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthopod Diversity. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University. 190 p.
- Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies: including adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Unpubl. Report. Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado 275 pp.
- Swengel, A.B and S.R. Swengel. 2015. Grass-skipper (Hesperiinae) trends in midwestern USA grasslands during 1988-2013. Journal of Insect Conservation 19:279-292.
- Threatful, D.L. 1988. A list of the butterflies and skippers of Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks, British Columbia, Canada (Lepidoptera). Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 27(3-4): 213-221.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
- Allen, T.J., J.P. Brock, and J. Glassberg. 2005. Caterpillars in the field and garden: a field guide to the butterfly caterpillars of North America. Oxford University Press.
- Brock, J.P. and K. Kaufman. 2003. Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY 284 pp.
- Additional Sources of Information Related to "Insects"