little glassywing

(Pompeius verna)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

little glassywing


N5 - Secure

SU - Unrankable


not listed


Uncommon in Minnesota


One brood: mid June to early August


Moist woodland openings and edges, moist brushy fields near woodlands, wetland edges, roadsides. Always near trees.


Wingspan: 11 16 to 1½

          Photo by John Shier

This is a medium-sized grass skipper with a wingspan of 11 16 to 1½.

The upperside of the both wings is dark brownish-black. The forewing has a cluster of four spots near the center and a row of three smaller spots near the margin. The central cluster consists of one large semi-transparent spot with two smaller pale spots above it and one smaller pale spot below it. The large spot is rectangular on the male, square on the female. The underside of both wings is dark brown. The underside of the hindwing has a central band of very pale spots.

The antennae are short and barred. Each antenna has a black swelling (club) at the tip; a white band just below the club; and a pale, thin, hooked extension (apiculus) at the end of the club.

The caterpillar is green with a black head. The thorax and abdomen are moderately covered with short brown hairs, each with a brown bulbous base. Mature caterpillars are seen in early spring.


Dun skipper (Euphyes vestris) male has no pale spots on the forewing and no row of faint spots on the hindwing below. The female has only two pale spots on the forewing.

Northern broken-dash (Wallengrenia egeremet) has an orangish area on the leading edge of the forewing. The rectangular spot is smaller, orange or yellow, and not as square.

Collectively, these three species are called “the three witches” because their dark wings make it difficult to tell “which one is which.”

Larval Food

Leaves of purpletop tridens (Tridens flavus var. flavus)

Adult Food

Flower nectar of white, pink, and purple flowers, especially dogbane and milkweed. When those are not available, also nectar from yellow flowers.

Life Cycle

Males perch on low vegetation after noon waiting for passing females. The female lays pale greenish to white eggs in the afternoon on the leaves of purpletop tridens. Caterpillars make a shelter by rolling one leaf or tying adjacent leaves together with silk. They live in their shelters, exiting only at night to feed. They overwinter in their shelters as partially grown larvae and pupate in their shelters in the spring.


Little glassywings often fly together with Dun skipper and northern broken-dash.

Like all skippers, they have a rapid, darting flight.

Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 6, 7, 20, 21, 24, 29, 71.


What’s in a Name?
The large semi-transparent spot on the forewing gives this species its common name.



Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)











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Hesperioidea (skippers)



Hesperiidae (skippers)



Hesperiinae (grass skippers)




Subordinate Taxa

little glassywing (Pompeius verna sequoyah)

little glassywing (Pompeius verna verna)


Hesperia vetulina

Pamphila pottawattomie

Pamphila sigida

Polites sequoyah

Telesto sigida


little glassywing










A thin hooked or pointed extension at the ends of each antenna just beyond the club of all skippers except skipperlings (subfamily Heteropterinae).






Visitor Photos
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John Shier

This photo was taken today, along the bike trail about 1 mile east of the Schaar's Bluff trailhead in Dakota County Parks.

  little glassywing    Photos



  Little Glassywing (Pompeius verna)
Bill Keim
  Little Glassywing (Pompeius verna)  



Visitor Videos
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Other Videos
  Little Glassywing
Dave Blinder

Published on Jul 1, 2014

Filmed and edited in Morris County, New Jersey

Tamron SP 180mm Macro Lens
Canon EOS 7D

All footage and music is exclusive property of Dave Blinder.

  The Witches
Dick Walton

Uploaded on Apr 18, 2011

Dun Skipper, Little Glassywing, Northern Broken-Dash, Crossline Skipper, and Tawny-edged Skipper




Visitor Sightings
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John Shier

Location: Schaar's Bluff, Dakota County

This photo was taken today, along the bike trail about 1 mile east of the Schaar's Bluff trailhead in Dakota County Parks.

It is a "little glassywing" skipper.  We only saw one.

Careful study of Butterflies through Binoculars East by Jeffrey Glassberg (NABA president) and also the material on the Wisconsin Butterflies site agree on this identification.  The Wisconsin site says it is fairly uncommon in WI.  Their map shows at least a few sightings in WI counties just east of the Twin Cities.  Their data shows that early July is when this species is seen.

little glassywing







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