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Persius Dusky Wing (Erynnis persius)


Overview

Overview

Persius dusky wing (Erynnis persius), a State Special Concern butterfly, has been found in pine/oak barrens and sand barrens. In the midwest, its host plant is wild lupine (Lupinus perennis). This is a univoltine species, with the flight period from mid May to early June. Eggs are laid singly under leaves. Larvae live and eventually hibernate in solitary nests on the plant. Pupation occurs the following spring.

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 Persius Dusky Wing (Erynnis persius). 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 persius in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusSC/N
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
Global RankG5
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 four small white spots towards the apex arranged in an almost perfect straight line. The forewings are dusted with fine raised hairs, best visible in fresh, perfect specimens. Hindwings above are dark with blurry pale spots in one or two rows in the outer third. 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 for their identification. Wingspan: 29-32 mm. Length of forewing: 14-15 mm. Larvae are pale green with a dark dorsal line and yellow dorsolateral lines and a yellowish to reddish-brown head (Layberry et al. 1998).

Similar Species: Of the eight species of duskywings in Wisconsin, the Persius, Wild Indigo, and Columbine Duskywings are closely 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 ( minimum wingspan of 37 mm, length of forewing 18 mm) and may be distinguished by the two subapical light spots that are usually present on the underside of the hindwing.

Habitat: Pine/oak barrens, sand barrens. Microhabitat includes open sandy ground and small scrub oaks may both be required components of the habitat (Borth 1994).

Nectar Source: Observed nectaring on blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), orange hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum), rock cress (Arabis lyrata) and wild lupine in Wisconsin (Borth, 1994).

Host Plant: Wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) in the Midwest. Uses yellow wild indigo (Baptisia tinctoria) in New England.

Associated Species: Other Erynnis species. Sometimes found flying with Wild Indigo Duskywing (E. baptisiae) in the spring. Found with CobwebSkipper (Hesperia metea), Dusted Skipper (Atrytonopsis hianna), Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus) and Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) at some barrens sites.

State Distribution: The northwestern barrens and Central Sands of Wisconsin: Adams, Burnett, Clark, Eau Claire, Jackson, Juneau, Marquette, Monroe, Polk, Portage, Washburn, Waushara, and Wood counties. Found at some Karner Blue butterfly sites.

Global Distribution: More common in western North America; sparse in the east. Alaska to Nova Scotia. South to central California, Arizona, New Mexico, Tennessee. The subspecies persius has a very reduced range in New England, possibly only Pennsylvania, Maine and New Hampshire. Southward it is likely extirpated from its former locations in New Jersey and Virginia. In the Great Lakes Region it is still found in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Rationale for Species Listing and Threats: Habitat loss due to woody species and forest encroachment. Overwintering immatures are exposed and vulnerable to being killed by fire. Inappropriate roadside or right-of-way mowing and herbicide spraying renders host plant unavailable.This species is thought to be a victim of gypsy moth control in the eastern US when DDT was sprayed in the 1950's and 1960's (Schweitzer 1996).

Phenology: Spring flight occurs from mid May to early June.

Life and Natural History: Univoltine. Eggs are laid singly under leaves. Larvae live and eventually hibernate in solitary nests on the plant. Pupation occurs the following spring (Opler and Krizek 1984).

Survey Guidelines: Erynnis persius is rarely out of sight of a wild lupine patch. During the day, males sit on the ground or on low twigs on hilltops in search of females (Opler and Krizek 1984).

Inventory, Monitoring and Research Needs: Locate additional populations and monitor known sites, particularly those managed with fire.

Management Guidelines: Immature stages of the species are on the plant throughout the year. Sites managed with fire should be divided into several burn units leaving the majority of the site unburned in a given season. Manage lupine through mowing and a fire frequency of 5 years or more (Opler and Krizek 1984). Avoid disturbance of foodplants by roadside maintenance crews during larval development.

Photos/Video

Photos


Persius Dusky Wing

Persius Dusky Wing, female above. Jackson County.

Photo © Mike Reese.

Persius Dusky Wing

Persius Dusky Wing, below. Jackson County.

Photo © Mike Reese.

Persius Dusky Wing

Photo © Ann Swengel.


Last revised: Thursday, May 04, 2017