Problema bulenta (Boisduval and Le Conte, )
NatureServe Global Rank: G2G3
Virginia State Rank: S1S2
VA DGIF Tier: II
Federal Legal Status: None
Virginia Legal Status: None
Description: The Rare Skipper is a very large skipper species even among the wetland specialists. There is a degree of sexual dimorphism but not as extreme as seen in many other skipper species. Males are noticeably smaller than females and the ventral side of both wings consists mainly of yellow-orange with a dark brown border. A small stigma exists near to the edge of the front wing. The female is similar but larger and much darker, with a band of large markings spread from a wrist bracelet through the middle of the wing. These markings are variable in size and can cause the wing to be more orange in appearance rather than dark brown, but there is always dark brown at the base of the wing as well as the outer margin. Both sexes have pointed-looking wings and are light orange in color on the ventral side of the hind wing. The female also has white veins on the hind wing.
Similar species: Similar at a glance to the Delaware Skipper (Anatrytone logan), although much larger. The male can be similar in size to female Delaware Skippers but will possess pointier wings. Wing shape and size are key characteristics in separating these species. The base colors of the hind wings are similar and even the dorsal markings are similar, although the Delaware Skipper tends to have sharper contrast with markings. Both Broad-Winged (Poanes viator) and Palatka Skippers (Euphyes pilatka) are similar in size to the Rare Skipper, but can easily be separated by the ventral hind wing coloration alone.
North American Range: The Rare Skipper is found on the East Coast, from southern New Jersey to Georgia.
VA Observations by Locality: Chesapeake, City of | New Kent | Virginia Beach, City of | Charles City | James City | King William | New Kent | Surry
Flight season and broods: There are two broods, May - June, and again July - September. The northern populations may only produce a single brood per season.
Habitat and Food Plants: The Rare Skipper lives in large open marshes usually in upper Brackish and tidal freshwater estuarine/palustrine marshes. It hosts on Tall Cordgrass (Spartina cynosuroides) in its Northern locations and Marsh Millet (Zizaniopsis miliacea) in its Southern range is its host plant of choice.
Behavior and Ecology: The Rare Skipper, despite its name, is often common where found. Populations are very localized and can possibly exist without easily being discovered. Adults prefer to nectar in the large marshes where they live and if nectar is available, they will not venture to the edges of the marshes where they can be easily observed. Adults take nectar from Milkweeds, Pickerelweed, Morning Glories and various marsh plants. Some populations are easily observed when taking nectar from more accessible areas, such as roadsides. Males perch on or near hosts and battle other males for territory. Females display on hosts and nectar sources.
Population trend and potential threats: The Rare Skipper is likely stable in most parts of its range although due to limited observational abilities known populations should be monitored at least until the species is better understood. The preservation of the expansive marshes where this species and its hosts occur is the best way to preserve its viability.
Management practices: Constant surveys and monitoring are needed in known habitats. Habitats should try to be conserved whenever possible.
References: Cech, R. and G. Tudor. 2005. Butterflies of the East Coast. Pg. 287. Princeton University Press.
Glassberg, J. 1992. A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Eastern North America. Pg. 63. Oxford University Press.
Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1999. Eastern Butterflies. Pg. 292. Houghton Mifflin Company.
Pyle, R. M. 1981. Field Guide to North American Butterflies. National Audubon Society.
Smith, T. P. 2011. Predictive capabilities of GIS for the distribution of specialist wetland Skippers (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae) in South Carolina. MES thesis at College of Charleston, SC. ProQuest LLC publishing company.
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, 600 E. Main St., 24th Floor, Richmond, VA 23219
This atlas was compiled
by the VA Natural Heritage Program with funds provided by the VA Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries through a state wildlife grant
from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Last Modified: Tuesday, 24 January 2017, 10:12:03 PM