Skippers: manfreda giant-skipper (Stallingsia maculosus)

(Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae: Megathyminae: Megathymini)

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

The manfreda giant-skipper is found in southern Texas and south of the border in northern Mexico, including the state of Nuevo Leon. The full extent of the range in Mexico is not known but it is apparently very restricted. Its habitat is subtropical thorn and pine forests. It is likely that most populations have already been lost to development. The larval hostplant (Texas tuberose) is itself restricted to southern Texas and northern Mexico, and is in competition with guineagrass in many places.

red list profile

conservation status

Xerces Red List Status: Imperiled
Other Rankings:

Canada – Species at Risk Act: N/A
Canada – provincial status: N/A
Mexico: None
USA – Endangered Species Act: None
USA – state status: None
NatureServe: G1G2
IUCN Red List: N/A

The manfreda giant-skipper has a very limited range and is facing significant threats throughout that small region. It is imperiled throughout its range and critically imperiled in the United States. The exact number of populations is not known—and it is likely that none of the remaining range is accessible to the public so futures studies are unlikely— but it is restricted to twenty or less metapopulations.

description and taxonomic status

The manfreda giant-skipper is a large brown-black skipper in the family Hesperiidae (skippers). It has a wingspan of 45 mm to 51 mm (1¾ to 2 inches). It is similar to other members of the subfamily Megathyminae, especially Agathymus remingtoni, and it can be difficult to identify in the field. A voucher specimen or good photographs of upper and under sides of the wings is necessary.

The upperside is dark brown with a cream-colored fringe crossed by black marking at the ends of the veins. On the forewings there are small, cream-colored postmedian oval spots; the hindwings are unmarked. The underside is also dark brown with smaller spots and a dusting of gray on the outer portion.

Taxonomic status

Stallingsia maculosus (H. A. Freeman), 1959. Other common names include maculated manfreda skipper.

life history

Habitat for the manfreda giant-skipper is subtropical thorn and pine forests. The larval hostplant is Texas tuberose (also known as spice lily) (Manfreda maculosa).

Eggs are glued singly onto the hostplant and the young caterpillars bore into the root or leaves. They make silk chimneys that project from the burrow. There are two flights one from April to May and one from September to October. The summer generation develops directly to adult without aestivation. The fall generation overwinters as caterpillars, probably third instars.

Adult manfreda giant-skippers aren’t known to feed, but in similar species males get moisture from dung and wet earth.

distribution

The manfreda giant-skipper is found in southern Texas and south of the border in northern Mexico, including the state of Nuevo Leon. The full extent of the range in Mexico is not known but it is apparently very restricted.


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

threats and conservation needs

Development is apparently a significant threat range-wide. It is likely that most populations have already been lost to this. The larval hostplant (Texas tuberose) is itself restricted to southern Texas and northern Mexico, creating a natural limitation on the potential range of this butterfly. Texas tuberose is in competition with guineagrass (Panicum maximum) in many places.

Wherever the hostplant or the butterfly occurs, the habitat should be protected and managed appropriately.

Surveys to identify populations should be done.

references

MacNeill, C.D. 1975. Superfamily Hesperioidea. Pages 411-578. In W.H. Howe (editor). The Butterflies of North America. Doubleday and Co., Garden City, NY.

Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA.

Opler, P. A., and A. B. Wright. 1999. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. (2nd edition.) Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Opler, P. A. (chair), J. M. Burns, J. D. LaFontaine, R. K. Robbins, and F. Sperling. 1998. Scientific Names of North American Butterflies. Fort Collins, CO.

Stanford, R. E., and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. Denver and Fort Collins, CO.

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

Tilden, J. W. 1986. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, MA.

additional resources

Big Sky Institute, Butterflies and Moths of North America: manfreda giant-skipper (Accessed 1/21/09)

NatureServe Explorer (Accessed 9/23/08)

Neartica; Butterflies and Skippers of North America: manfreda giant-skipper.

citation

Vaughan, D. M., and M. D. Shepherd. 2005. Species Profile: Stallingsia maculosus. 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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