northern broken-dash

(Wallengrenia egeremet)

Conservation Status
northern broken-dash
Photo by Scott Leddy
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S4 - Apparently Secure

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Northern broken-dash is a small, dark, nondescript, grass skipper. It occurs in the United States and southern Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. It is most common in the northeast from Maine to Michigan south to Massachusetts and Ohio. It is uncommon but sometimes locally abundant throughout its range, including in Minnesota. Adults are found from late June to mid-August in open places near wooded or shrubby areas, including fields, pastures, meadows, woodland edges, gardens, and roadsides. They drink nectar from white, pink, and purple flowers, including alfalfa, red clover, dogbane, New Jersey tea, milkweed, and blazing star. Larva feed on the leaves of panic grasses (Panicum spp.).

Adults have a 1 to 1916 (25 to 39 mm) wingspan.

The upper side of both wings is dark brown with orange or light yellowish-brown (pale) markings and a brownish fringe. On the male the leading edge (costal margin) of the forewing is pale. The group of specialized scent scales (stigma) on the male forewing is black and is interrupted in the middle, like a “broken dash”. This is the feature that gives the species its common name. The black stigma is difficult to see against the dark brown background. There is a pale flag-like spot at the end of the stigma. Females do not have a stigma, but have the pale flag-like spot in the same place as the male. As with many skippers, there is a row of three small pale spots, the “wrist bracelet”, on the forewing near the costal margin in the subapical area.

The underside of the hindwing is yellowish-brown and often has a violet sheen. There is a faint, pale, postmedian band in the shape of a backwards 3.

The antennae are short and barred. Each antenna has a swelling (club) at the tip, and a pale, thin, hooked extension (apiculus) at the end of the club. The club is black above and orange below. There is not a white band below the club.

Early stage (instar) caterpillars have a yellow body and a black head. After overwintering, late instar caterpillars are light green and tan with dark green mottling, a dark central stripe, and a tannish band on each abdominal segment. Mature caterpillars are active in the spring.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Wingspan: 1 to 1916 (25 to 39 mm)

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

Northern broken-dash, Dun skipper, and little glassywing are called “the three witches” because their dark wings make it difficult to tell “which one is which.”

Dun skipper (Euphyes vestris) has a darker brown background color. On the hindwing, the postmedian band is narrower and the spots are smaller. The male has no pale spots on the forewing and no row of faint spots on the hindwing below.

Little glassywing (Pompeius verna) has a darker brown background color. On the hindwing, the postmedian band is narrower and the spots are smaller. There is a white band just below the antennal club.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Open places near wooded or shrubby areas, including fields, pastures, meadows, woodland edges, gardens, and roadsides.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

One generation per year: Late June to mid-August

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Males perch on vegetation up to 6 above the ground, usually in early morning, waiting for passing females.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

Middle instar caterpillars overwinter.

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

Leaves of panic grasses (Panicum spp.).

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Nectar from white, pink, and purple flowers, including alfalfa, red clover, dogbane, New Jersey tea, milkweed, and blazing star.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

21, 24, 27, 29, 30, 71, 75.

 
  5/5/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Uncommon but sometimes locally abundant in Minnesota

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Neolepidoptera  
  Parvorder Heteroneura  
  No Rank Ditrysia  
  No Rank Obtectomera  
 

Superfamily

Papilionoidea (butterflies)  
 

Family

Hesperiidae (skippers)  
 

Subfamily

Hesperiinae (grass skippers)  
 

Tribe

Hesperiini  
 

Genus

Wallengrenia (broken-dashes)  
       
 

Skippers have traditionally been placed in their own superfamily Hesperioidea because of their morphological similarity. Recent phylogenetic analysis (Kawahara and Breinholt [2014]) suggests that they share the same common ancestor as other butterfly families, and thus belong in the superfamily, Papilionoidea.

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Hesperia cinna

Pamphila ursa

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

northern broken-dash

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Apiculus

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

 

Costal margin

The leading edge of the forewing of insects.

 

Instar

The developmental stage of arthropods between each molt; in insects, the developmental stage of the larvae or nymph.

 

Stigma

In plants, the portion of the female part of the flower that is receptive to pollen. In Lepidoptera, an area of specialized scent scales on the forewing of some skippers, hairstreaks, and moths. In other insects, a thickened, dark, or opaque cell on the leading edge of the wing.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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Scott Leddy

 
    northern broken-dash      
           
 
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Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
Northern Broken-Dash
Cory Gregory
  Northern Broken-Dash  
     

 

slideshow

       
 
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Other Videos
 
  Northern Broken Dash Love
Jean Huffman
 
   
 
About

Sep 22, 2014

Northern Broken Dash Skippers Male & Female 09 01 14

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
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  Scott Leddy
7/7/2020

Location: Fillmore County, MN

northern broken-dash

 
           
 
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Created: 5/5/2021

Last Updated:

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