Least Skipper (Ancyloxypha numitor [Fabricius])
Wing span: 7/8 - 1 1/8 inches (2.2 - 2.9 cm).
Identification: Antennae are short. Upperside of forewing is orange with a wide, diffuse black border at the outer margin; hindwing is yellow-orange with a wide black margin. Underside of forewing is black with orange borders at the tip and leading edge; hindwing is yellow-orange.
Life history: Males patrol for females with a low, fluttery flight through grassy areas. Females lay eggs singly on grass blades. Caterpillars feed on leaves and rest in nests of rolled or tied leaves. Third- and fourth-stage caterpillars hibernate.
Flight: Three broods from May-October in most of the range, four broods from February-December in the Deep South and Texas.
Caterpillar hosts: Various grasses including marsh millet (Zizaniopsis miliacea), rice cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides), and cultivated rice (Oryza sativa).
Adult food: Flower nectar from low growing plants such as wood sorrel, swamp verbena, pickerelweed, chickory, and white clover.
Habitat: Moist or wet open places with tall grasses, marshes, ditches, slow streams, hillsides, or old fields with tall grasses.
Range: Nova Scotia west to southern Saskatchewan; south through the eastern states to Florida, the Gulf states, Texas, and southeastern Arizona. Strays to central Colorado.
Conservation: Not usually required.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management needs: None reported.
Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates. Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates. Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates. Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies including adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Denver and Fort Collins, CO.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann
State and Regional References:
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.