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New Jersey Endangered and Threatened Species Field Guide
Species Group: Invertebrate
State: Special Concern
The two-spotted skipper is overall orange below and dark brown above. They have pointed forewings that have white fringe along the edge. The underside of the head and body are white. This skipper’s wingspan ranges from 1 ¼ inches to 1 ½ inches. Other skipper species may be easily confused with the two-spotted skipper, but most are usually dark below or they lack the white inner hindwing margin. The larvae or caterpillars are green with dark markings on their yellow heads.
DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT
Two-spotted skippers have a wide range in much of North America. They are commonly found from New England and Ontario south to the Carolinas and west to Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska. Much of their northeastern range is declining from Maine to Pennsylvania. They are considered rare in Colorado and also in southeastern New Jersey.
Two-spotted skipper adults are quite fond of flower nectar. The species of flower nectar ranges in variety and can include pickerelweed, sweet pepperbush, blue flag, and common milkweed. For caterpillars, the only documented food source is hairyfruit sedge.
The life cycle of the two-spotted skipper is not well documented. Males typically perch in sedge marshes to watch for females. Females lay over 100 pale green eggs on the underside of a host plant. The larvae eat the leaves of their natal plant and live in nests of rolled leaves during hibernation. The butterflies emerge in late June into mid-July.
CURRENT STATUS, THREATS, AND CONSERVATION
In New Jersey, the two-spotted skipper is listed as a species of Special Concern. At the edges of their range (e.g., NJ), this species is very local and considered quite rare. Threats to their habitat include overgrazing and the draining and ditching of marshes. Since they have a large range, the two-spotted skipper is not listed on a federal level.
In 2015, the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Advisory Committee recommended changing this species' status from Special Concern to Threatened within the state, but no formal rule proposal has been filed to date.
HOW TO HELP
The Endangered and Nongame Species Program would like for individuals to report their sightings of two-spotted skippers. Record the date, time, location, and condition of the animal and submit the information by submitting a Sighting Report Form. The information will be entered into the state’s natural heritage program, commonly referred to as Biotics. Biologists map the sighting and the resulting maps “allow state, county, municipal, and private agencies to identify important wildlife habitats and protect them in a variety of ways. This information is used to regulate land-use within the state and assists in preserving endangered and threatened species habitat remaining in New Jersey.”
Text written by Emily Heiser in 2011 and updated by Mike Davenport in 2016.
Species: E. bimacula
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