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Poweshiek Skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek)
Powesheik skipper (Oarisma powesheik), a butterfly listed as State and Federally Endangered in Wisconsin. Poweshieks require wet mesic prairie or southern fen habitat with native grasses, sedges, and a significant component of plants in the sunflower family. These wet communities often support JoePyeweed (Eupatorium maculatum), swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), gayfeather (Liatris pychnostachya), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), and possibly cordgrass (Spartina pectinata). This is a univoltine species, with adults present mid-June through July, peaking the first two weeks of July. Eggs are laid near the tips of leaf blades. Eggs and larvae are on the host plants from late June through the winter until pupation in late May.
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 Poweshiek Skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek). 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 this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.
|Federal Status in Wisconsin||LE|
|Tracked by NHI||Y|
Poweshiek Skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek) has very few known occurrences in the state and is of the highest priority for conservation; we encourage you to consult with your District Ecologist or an NHI Zoologist for specific recommendations for your site.
Note: a species guidance document is not available at this time. Information below was compiled from publication PUB-ER-085-99 (now out-of-print).
Identification: Wings are triangular and sharply pointed at the tips. Upper sides of the wings are dark grayish-brown with a somewhat lavender cast. The leading edges of forewings, and occasionally the base of the hindwings and veins have distinctive orange lines. The lower surface of the hindwing is pale brown with black on the inner margin. Underwing veins are lined silvery white. The wingspan is 0.9 -1.25 inches (27-31 mm).
Habitat: Poweshieks require wet mesic prairie habitat with native grasses, sedges, and a significant component of plants in the sunflower family. These wet communities often support JoePyeweed (Eupatorium maculatum), marsh milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), gayfeather (Liatris pychnostachya), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), and possibly cordgrass (Spartina pectinata). Favorite nectar sources are pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia sp.).and coneflower (Ratibida sp.). Larvae are reported to feed primarily on prairie dropseed (Sporobolis heterolepis) and little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium). When these plants are present in drier areas adjacent to the wetland, poweshieks can be found there as well.
State Distribution: Occurs in Green Lake and Waukesha counties of Wisconsin.
Phenology: The flight period runs from mid-June through July, typically peaking in the first two weeks of July. Poweshieks bask with wings spread and may be found resting on prairie dock (Silphium terebinthinacium) or sedges. Eggs are laid near the tips of grass blades. Larvae feed until they enter diapause in late autumn (based on temp, and overwinter on the host plant. Feeding resumes around the end of March and pupation occurs in late May to early June.
Management Guidelines: Each of the few sites in the state must be managed as the only remaining habitat for the species. Populations appear to exhibit fluctuations in size and small populations any given year combined with extremes of weather, management, or unforeseen events could cause local extirpations. Therefore efforts to expand habitat, create corridors between existing populations, and bolster population sizes are important for the long term survival of the species in Wisconsin. The poweshiek skipperling is fire-sensitive and burn management used to discourage woody plants and cool-season grasses in the open wet prairie community is best conducted with controlled infrequent burns affecting only a portion of the available habitat. Selective cutting and mowing may be better management tools for inhabited patches.
Links to additional Poweshiek Skipperling information
- Grassland and Savanna Protocols
- MN Department of Natural Resources
- WisconsinButterflies.org Species Profile
- Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
- NatureServe Explorer information