Skippers: Linda’s roadside-skipper (Amblyscirtes linda)

(Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae: Hesperiinae)

Profile prepared by Mace Vaughan and Matthew Shepherd, The Xerces Society

Linda’s roadside-skipper is found in six states but at fewer tha n twenty locations, and in small numbers at every occurrence. Most of its population is in southern Missouri. This butterfly requires fairly undisturbed stream side habitat in deciduous forests and its major threats are from forest management operations, especially logging and spraying.

red list profile

conservation status

Xerces Red List Status: Vulnerable
Other Rankings:

Canada – Species at Risk Act: N/A
Canada – provincial status: N/A
Mexico: N/A
USA – Endangered Species Act: None
USA – state status: None
NatureServe: G2G3
IUCN Red List: N/A

This butterfly has a limited range and is rare where it does occur. It is considered vulnerable, with probably fewer than twenty metapopulations.

The Missouri Natural Heritage Program ranks this species as “imperiled?”and since that state contains so much of the total range that it is very probable that the global rank should match that state’s rank. Heitzman and Heitzman (1987) describe its status in Missouri, which is most of the range, as follows: “Rare breeding resident…extremely local…found only in undisturbed forest localities in the Ozarks.”

Other states also consider it is in need of attention. Illinois’ Department of Natural Resources rates it as a Conservation Priority Invertebrate in the state’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan. In Kansas it is rated a Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

Despite this widespread concern, Linda’s Roadside-Skipper currently has no legal protection under either federal or state legislation.

description and taxonomic status

Linda’s roadside-skipper is a medium sized butterfly in the family Hesperiidae (skippers). It has a wing span of 29 to 34 mm (1⅛ to 1 5/16 inches). On the dorsal side it is dark brown with a few light spots. On the male the forewing stigma is obscure. Ventral side of the forewing is deep brown with a black tip and of the hindwing is black-brown with gray overscales and a band of pale gray spots.

Amblyscirtes linda H. A. Freeman, 1943.

life history

Preferred habitat is along streams in woodlands. The larval hostplant is a grass, Indian woodoats (Chasmanthium latifolium). Females lay eggs singly on the underside of the leaves of its hostplant. The caterpillars eat the leaves and live and pupate in tents of folded and sealed leaves.

This skipper has two broods between April and July. Adults nectar on various plants, including blackberry (Rubus sp.).

The habitat is prone to natural disturbance, such as flooding, so the skipper presumably has some adaptations to cope with periodic inundation.

distribution

Although Linda’s roadside-skipper ranges from western Tennessee west through southern Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas to eastern Oklahoma, its distribution is scattered (it is recorded in no more than fifteen counties in these states) and it is rare where it occurs.


Courtesy of Butterflies and Moths of North America, Big Sky Institute.

threats and conservation needs

Threats

Linda’s roadside-skipper apparently needs fairly undisturbed forest. Thus forest management operations can negatively impact it, especially logging and spraying operations. It is likely that with the spread of gypsy moth, Btk spraying will become a particular threat.

There is also concern about the impacts on larvae of pollen drifting from adjacent fields planted with Bt corn.

Because this butterfly occurs in small, isolated populations, it is probably more susceptible to habitat disturbance and fragmentation.

Conservation needs

Although found in six states, Linda’s roadside-skipper probably has fewer that twenty populations. Where it does occur it is in small numbers. Populations and their habitat should be conserved wherever found. It should be protected from pesticide spraying for forest pest suppression.

A particular concern expressed by Environmental Defense is that populations occurring next to Bt corn varieties (genetically modified to reduce damage from European corn borer) may be at risk from pollen carrying the Bt drifting onto hostplants and being consumed.

Studies of ecology would be valuable, particularly how it copes with flooding, as would a better understanding of the impacts of forest management. Range-wide surveys and monitoring should be done to confirm the existence and status of known populations and to search for additional locations.

references

Heitzman, J. R., and J. E. Heitzman. 1987. Butterflies and Moths of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation. Jefferson City, MO.

Layberry, R. A., P. W. Hall, and D. J. Lafontaine. 1998. The Butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON.

Opler, P. A., and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies East of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.

Opler, P.A. 1998. A Field Guide to Eastern Butterflies, revised format. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.

additional resources

Big Sky Institute, Butterflies and Moths of North America: Linda’s roadside skipper (Accessed 1/21/09)

Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Illinois Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan: Conservation Priority Invertebrates (Accessed 5/4/05)

Tennessee Natural Heritage Program; A Guide to the Rare Animals of Tennessee (Accessed 9/23/08)

Nearctica; Butterflies and Skippers of North America: Linda’s Roadside-Skipper (Accessed 5/4/05)

NatureServe Explorer (Accessed 9/23/08)

Environmental Defense; Petition to the EPA to require the planting of buffer zones of non-Bt corn around fields of genetically engineered Bt corn (Accessed 5/4/05)

citation

Vaughan, D. M., and M. D. Shepherd. 2005. Species Profile: Amblyscirtes linda. In Shepherd, M. D., D. M. Vaughan, and S. H. Black (Eds). Red List of Pollinator Insects of North America. CD-ROM Version 1 (May 2005). Portland, OR: The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

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