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Columbine Dusky Wing (Erynnis lucilius)


Overview

Overview

Columbine dusky wing ( Erynnis lucilius ), a State Special Concern butterfly, This species is found in woodland habitat with wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis); most often in rocky ravines, gullies, or woodland edge. Also found in prairie habitat edged with oak woods. This species is bivoltine, their flight periods are the first three weeks of May and mid July through early August. Larvae live in leaf nests on the hostplant and mature larvae overwinter in the litter at the base of the plant.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Columbine Dusky Wing (Erynnis lucilius). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.


Documented locations of Erynnis lucilius in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusSC/N
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2S3
Global RankG4
Tracked by NHIY
WWAP SGCN

Species guidance


Note: a species guidance document is not available at this time. Information below was originally presented as part of the Online Field Guide to Rare Lepidoptera: Bogs and Barrens.

Identification: The forewings above are mottled with black, brown and faint tan patches with several small white spots towards the apex; brown patch at end of forewing cell is indistinct. Hindwing below has a single strong row of white spots along the outer margin. Hindwing above is dark with blurry pale spots in one or two rows in the outer third and a thin black marginal line and a gray fringe. The habit of resting on the ground with wings held below horizontal helps separate the Erynnis skippers from other dark butterflies. Sending a specimen to a lepidopterist for microscopic examination is the only way to reliably separate the Persius, Wild Indigo, and Columbine duskywings. All three are hostplant specialists, and careful observations of adult activity around possible host plants may offer a clue to their identification. Wingspan: 21-29 mm. Length of forewing: 11-14 mm. Larvae are pale green with a dark green dorsal line and a black head (Layberry et al 1998).

Similar Species: Of the eight species of duskywings in Wisconsin, the Persius, Wild Indigo, and Columbine duskywings are very similar and the most difficult to distinguish from each other. Sleepy and Dreamy duskywings have no white spots and a prominent chain-like postmedian band on the forewing. Juvenal's duskywing is significantly larger (37 mm wingspan, forewing 18 mm) and distinguished by the two subapical light spots that are usually present on the underside of the hindwing.

Habitat: Woodland habitat with wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis); most often in rocky ravines, gullies, or woodland edge. Also found in prairie habitat edged with oak woods.

Nectar Source: Columbine (Layberry et al. 1998) and flower nectar (Opler et al. 1995). The Columbine Duskywing visits flowers more often than other eastern duskywing species (Layberry et al. 1995).

Host Plant: Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).

Associated Species: May be found nectaring with elfins (Callophrys spp.) and spring azures (Celastrina ladon) (Layberry et al. 1998).

State Distribution: There are records for the species from all parts of the state with the exception of the Northern Highlands region. Chippewa, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Fond du Lac, Grant, Sauk, Trempealeau, Vernon, Washington, Waukesha and Waupaca Counties. However, uncommon and localized in Wisconsin. The columbine duskywing is not present in all areas containing the foodplant. Its status is difficult to accurately determine due to the great difficulty of identification.

Global Distribution: Southern New England south to New Jersey and Pennsylvania; in the Appalachians to Virginia and Kentucky; west through southern Quebec and into Iowa and Minnesota..

Rationale for Species Listing and Threats: Habitat loss due to woody species and forest encroachment. Since it is unknown where the larvae overwinter, they may be exposed and vulnerable to being killed by fire. Larvae may be impacted by Bt spraying for gypsy moth control.

Phenology: First three weeks of May and mid July through early August.

Life and Natural History: Bivoltine. Larvae live in leaf nests on the hostplant. Mature larvae overwinter in the litter at the base of the plant (Layberry et al. 1998).

Survey Guidelines: Look for second generation adults taking moisture along damp roadways. Voucher specimens should be collected and examined by a specialist.

Inventory, Monitoring and Research Needs: Locate additional populations and better define adult flight times.

Management Guidelines: Sites managed with fire should be divided into several burn units and include refugia as a necessary precaution.

Photos/Video

Photos


Columbine Dusky Wing

Photo © Ann Thering.


Last revised: Tuesday, November 28, 2017