Dubious Records

Lace-winged Roadside Skipper
Amblyscirtes aesculapius (Fabricius, 1793)

There is a specimen of this skipper in the J.B. Wallis Collection at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum of Natural History in Regina. It is a freshly emerged male, labelled as collected at Minto, Manitoba, by W.D. Leathers in 1947. Nothing is known of the history of the specimen or the collector. A. aesculapias is a small (wingspan: 25 to 32 mm) skipper, dull greyish brown above, with a unique lacy pattern of white or yellowish lines along and across the veins of the hindwing underside, which distinguishes it from all other Amblyscirtes. It is known only from the southeastern U.S., northwest as far as Missouri; a Manitoba record would be so far outside of this range that the specimen must be presumed to be mislabelled.

Edith's Copper
Lycaena editha (Mead, 1878)

Various authors, including Ferris and Brown (1981) and Scott (1986), over the last 50 years have reported this species from Alberta, usually from the southwestern part. No modern author has been able to authenticate any of these records. However, editha occurs in northern Montana, close to the U.S. border, south of Waterton National Park, Alberta. It flies in moist upland meadows and should be sought along the Alberta/ U.S. border in July and August. Bird et al. (1995) rate the probability of finding it in Alberta as high. It is very similar to the Grey Copper (Lycaena dione), but a little smaller, with the dark spots on the hindwing underside larger and lighter in colour.

Great Basin Fritillary
Speyeria egleis (Behr, 1862)

This species has been reported several times from southwestern Alberta and southwestern British Columbia (Guppy et al., 1994). All of these records have proved to be misidentifications. The Great Basin Fritillary does occur close to the Canadian border in Montana and may still be discovered in southern Alberta.

Small Tortoiseshell
Nymphalis urticae (Linnaeus, 1758)

A male of this European species flew out of a box being unpacked in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 7 November 1970. The box had been packed at Oxford, UK, on 23 August. The specimen was caught immediately and is now in the Nova Scotia Museum at Halifax (Scott and Wright, 1972).

Nymphalis io (Linnaeus, 1758)

A female of this European species was collected by Jacques Leclerc on 21 May 1997 on Île-Charron, an island in the St. Lawrence River near the shipping docks in Montréal. Like the Small Tortoise shell (above), this butterfly is likely of European origin and probably flew from one of the ships in the harbour. Whether this species is able to establish a viable population in the Montréal area, or this is a single isolated incident, remains to be seen.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.