North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Minnesota

Broad-winged Skipper (Poanes viator)
JPG -- species photo

Broad-winged Skipper (Poanes viator [W. H. Edwards])

Wing span: 1 1/4 - 2 1/4 inches (3.2 - 5.7 cm).

Identification: Forewings are rounded. Upperside of forewing is dark brown with a small yellow-orange area and small cream spots. Hindwing is mostly orange with a black border and black veins. Underside of hindwing is orange-brown with a yellow-orange streak running from the wingbase and a median band of squarish yellow-orange spots.

Life history: Males patrol through reeds or other host plant habitat with a slow, jerky flight to find females. Females lay eggs singly under the host plant leaves, which are eaten by the caterpillars. Caterpillars rest between a leaf and a stem, strengthening the area with silk before they molt.

Flight: One brood from late June to early August inland; two broods from July-August along the mid-Atlantic Coast; several broods from May-August in Texas.

Caterpillar hosts: Inland populations feed on hairy sedge (Carex lacustris); coastal populations feed on reed (Phragmites communis), wild rice (Zizania aquatica), and marsh millet (Zizaniopsis miliacea).

Adult food: Inland populations sip nectar from swamp milkweed, purple loosestrife, and blue vervain. Coastal populations use nectar from dogbane, swamp milkweed, pickerelweed, thistles, salt marsh fleabane, and others.

Habitat: Freshwater and saltwater marshes.

Range: Inland populations range from the eastern Dakotas east to south Quebec and central New York. Coastal populations occur from Massachusetts south to northern Florida and west along the Gulf Coast to central Texas.

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.

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. 

Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., 
     Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.

Author: Jane M. Struttmann

State and Regional References:

Layberry, R.A., Hall, P.W. & Lafontaine, D.J., 1998.  The Butterflies of 
     Canada.  University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON.  280 pp.
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format.
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.     
Broad-winged Skipper (Poanes viator)
distribution map
map legend

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