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New Jersey Endangered and Threatened Species Field Guide


Image of An Appalachian grizzled skipper.Zoom+ An Appalachian grizzled skipper. © Jeffrey Pippen

Appalachian grizzled skipper

Pyrgus wyandot

Species Group: Invertebrate

Conservation Status

State: Endangered

 

Identification

The Appalachian grizzled skipper is a small 1.1-1.3 in. (29-33 mm) grayish-black skipper that is similar to the ever-present Common checkered skipper (P. communis). The Appalachian grizzled skipper can be distinguished by its smaller size and fewer white markings on its wings. Its flight period can also aid in identification, see “life cycle” below.

Image of Range of the Appalachian grizzled skipper in New Jersey.Zoom+ Range of the Appalachian grizzled skipper in New Jersey.

Distribution and Habitat

This species ranges from the Mid-Atlantic region, west to Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky; north-south from New York to North Carolina.
They can be found in open, sparsely grassed and/or barren areas in close proximity (usually less than 100ft.) to oak or pine forests (Schweitzer 1989a). An important habitat requirement for this species is its host plant, Dwarf cinquefoil (Potentilla canadensis).

Diet

In New Jersey, larvae (caterpillars) feed exclusively on Dwarf cinquefoil. Adults feed on nectar from a variety of plants, including dwarf cinquefoil, wood vetch (Vicia caroliniana), coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), spring beauty (Claytonia virginica), and birdsfoot violet (Viola pedata) (Iftner et. al. 1992; Schweitzer 1989b).

Life Cycle

Adults become active in early April and may remain active throughout the month of May in the northern portions of its range. In New Jersey, most of the adult flight activity ends in early to mid-May. Adults are found to be more active in flight during cool days. The common grizzled skipper can be found in flight into early November, this can be used to successfully identify this species. Adults lay eggs on the leaves of host plants and the tan to pink caterpillars are active for around 100 days.

Current Threats, Status, and Conservation

The Appalachian grizzled skipper was once distributed throughout the northwestern portions of New Jersey. The rapid decline of this species occurred in the 1940s and 1950s. The last specimen was collected in 1960 in Warren County. The heavy use of insecticides used to control Dutch elm disease, gypsy moths, and mosquitoes have been attributed to the decline of this species. The overpopulation of deer in the state may have also had a negative impact on their reproduction, from the over-browsing of its host plants.

Image of An Appalachian grizzled skipper.Zoom+ An Appalachian grizzled skipper. © Jeffrey Pippen

This butterfly was listed as endangered in 2001. Suitable habitat in the state should be monitored to identify new populations. Since the Appalachian grizzled skipper can disperse long distances, forest management plans could identify suitable habitat and eliminate the use of insecticides in certain areas to help this species recover in New Jersey.

References

Iftner, D.C., J.A. Shuey, and J.V. Calhoun. 1992. Butterflies and Skippers of Ohio. Ohio Biological Survey Bulletin, new series, vol. 9 no. 1.
Schweitzer, D.F. 1989a. A Review of Category 2 Insecta in USFWS Regions 3,4,5. Report prepared for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Schweitzer, D.F. 1989b. A Progress Report on the Identification and Prioritization of N.J.’s Rare Lepidoptera, 1981-1987. In N.J.’s Rare and Endangered Plants and Animals, ed. E.F. Karlin, 105-117, 235-237. Publ. of Institute of Environmental Studies, School of Theoretical and Applied Science. Ramapo College of N.J., Mahwah, N.J.


Text derived from the book, Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of New Jersey. 2003. Originally written by David M. Golden. Originally edited by B.E. Beans & L. Niles. Edited and updated in 2010 by Ben Wurst.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Arthropoda
       Class: Insecta
          Order: Lepidoptera
             Family: Hesperiidae
                Genus: Pygrus
                   Species: P. centaureae wyandot

Find Related Info: Endangered, Invertebrates

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