Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris) (Boisduval, 1852)

Diagnosis: The Dun Skipper is dark purplish brown, with males almost always totally unmarked except for the black stigma; females have a series of small white spots on the forewing above, which are repeated but are smaller on the forewing underside. Females usually have a very faint pale-purplish crescent on the hindwing underside. Wingspan: 23 to 27 mm.

Subspecies: Four have been named, but only subspecies metacomet is found in Canada.

Range: The Dun Skipper's range covers all of the eastern and central U.S., and the west coast. In Canada it is found from Nova Scotia to Saskatchewan, and in southern British Columbia and Vancouver Island. It ranges north to the James Bay Highway, Quebec, Berens River, Ontario, and Rocky Lake, Manitoba, and west to Erskine, Alberta.

Similar Species: Northern Broken-Dash (Wallengrenia egeremet) females. Other Euphyes species can be distinguished by their much lighter-coloured underside. See also Oslar's Roadside Skipper (Amblyscirtes oslari). [compare images]

Early Stages: The larva is pale green with many fine, wavy pale lines; the head pattern is similar to that of Euphyes dion, but the orange-brown colour of the front is the same as the side band in vestris. Foodplants are usually reported to be sedges, Carex heliophila in the west, and Carex lacustris, C. spissa, and C. gracillima in the east (Jeff Crolla, pers. comm.).

Abundance: Euphyes vestris is common to abundant, and widespread in a variety of habitats, but is considered "vulnerable" in British Columbia (Guppy et al., 1994).

Flight Season: The Dun Skipper flies from late June to mid-August in Canada; there is one generation per year in most areas, with a rare second generation at Point Pelee; there are three or more generations per year farther south.

Habits: The Dun Skipper flies well into August in eastern Ontario and is often seen on flowers along roadsides long after all related species have stopped flying. Although it is usually reported to use only sedges as foodplants, Tilden and Smith (1986) report it feeding on Purpletop Grass (Tridens flavus) in the west; its wide distribution in the east and habitat preferences make it likely that grasses are used in the east as well.

© 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.