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Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist

Butterfly (Ellipsaria lineolata)



Butterfly (Ellipsaria lineolata), a mussel listed as Endangered in Wisconsin, is found in large rivers in the western and southern parts of the state. It prefers a stable substrate containing rock, gravel and sand in swift current. The known host species include three common fish; drum, green sunfish, and sauger.

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 Butterfly (Ellipsaria lineolata). 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.

Documented locations of Ellipsaria lineolata in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of March 2012.

Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2
Global RankG4G5
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

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: Yellowish brown shell with broken brown rays is smooth, triangular, and flattened, with a sharply angled posterior ridge. The anterior end is broadly rounded, and the posterior end pointed. The beak sculpture has a few fine, double-looped ridges. Old shells have faint brown rays and are up to 4 inches (10.2 cm) long. The beak cavity is shallow to moderately deep. The nacre is white.

Habitat: Inhabits large rivers in sand or gravel substrates.

State Distribution: Occurs in the Mississippi, lower Wisconsin and St.Croix Rivers.

Phenology: Host fish are freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens), green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), and sauger (Stizostedion canadense). The glochidia have been found on green sunfish in July.

Management Guidelines: Habitat destruction and river pollution have resulted in mussel declines. Protection of habitat and improvements in water quality along with restriction of dredging, impoundments, sand and gravel mining, and navigational improvements would benefit this species. The development of fish runways to facilitate the movement of host species through or around dams could help to protect this species.

Photos / Video


Butterfly  [Photo #13724]

Photo © Kevin Cummings.

Last revised: Tuesday, October 07, 2014