wild indigo duskywing

(Erynnis baptisiae)

Conservation Status
wild indigo duskywing
Photo by John Shier
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SU - Unrankable


not listed


Wild indigo duskywing is a medium-sized spread-wing skipper. It is ¾ in length and has a wingspan of 1 to 1.

The wings are dark brown. The upperside of the forewing is very dark on the basal half, appearing “oily”. At the end of the cell there is a distinct, light, orangish-brown or reddish-brown patch. There are several spots, including a cluster of four white translucent spots at the leading edge in the region just before the tip (subapical area); two white subapical spots near the middle; and a row of pale marginal spots. The hindwing has a faint cell end bar, a row of white marginal spots, and a row of pale submarginal spots.

The antennae are short and striped. Each antenna has a black swelling (club) at the tip, and a pale, thin, hooked extension (apiculus) at the end of the club.




Total length: ¾

Wingspan: 1 to 1


Similar Species


Columbine duskywing (Erynnis lucilius) is nearly identical but is much rarer. It is slightly smaller, slightly lighter, and the forewings are shorter. It may not be possible to distinguish between the two adults in the field unless the specimen is on or near a caterpillar host plant.


Fields and other grassy areas with crown vetch, roadside embankments, railroad rights-of-way




Two generations per year: Late May through June and mid-July to late August




Caterpillars feed at night. During the day they remain in a webbed shelter inside a rolled leaf.

Adults hold their wings flat when at rest.


Life Cycle


Males perch on low shrubs in open areas waiting for passing females. The female lays eggs singly on the foliage of host plants. Larvae make a webbed shelter by rolling a leaf and tying it with silk. They live in their shelters, exiting only at night to feed. Second generation larvae overwinter in their shelters as late instar caterpillars and pupate in their shelters in the spring.


Larva Hosts


Wild indigo, lupine, and crown vetch

This skipper was originally a species of open woodlands and shrubby prairies. The larvae fed on mostly on horseflyweed (Baptisia tinctoria) but also on blue wild indigo (Baptisia australis) and on sundial lupine (Lupinus perennis). With the decline of those plant species due to habitat loss, the skipper adapted to the introduced, locally abundant species crown vetch (Securigera varia).


Adult Food


Nectar from flowers, including crown vetch; blackberry; blueberry; common strawberry; wild bergamot; red, white, alsike, and crimson clovers; white and yellow sweet clovers; bird’s-foot trefoil; garlic mustard; blazing stars; black-eyed Susan; prairie ironweed; chicory; Canadian horseweed; common dandelion; Joe Pye weeds; thistles; sunflowers; asters; and dogbane.


Distribution Map



21, 24, 27, 29, 30, 71, 82.




Widespread, abundant, and increasing in the east and the Midwest, rare in Minnesota

NatureServe lists this species as “Unrankable” for the state of Minnesota. Its range is rapidly expanding and its numbers are increasing wherever crown vetch has been widely planted.



Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  


Papilionoidea (butterflies)  


Hesperiidae (skippers)  


Pyrginae (spread-wing skippers)  


Erynnini (duskywings and allies)  


Erynnis (duskywings)  

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.






Common Names


wild indigo duskywing










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



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


Subapical area

In insects, the region just before the tip of the wing.






Visitor Photos

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Greg Watson

    wild indigo duskywing      

John Shier

  There is no wild indigo at Afton SP, but it is said that this species has adapted to crown vetch as a host plant, and there is quite a bit of that at Afton SP.   wild indigo duskywing  
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos








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Other Videos
  Wild Indigo Duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae)
Act Naturally

Published on Jul 27, 2016

Wild Indigo Duskywings are small brown butterflies with a wingspan of 1 3/8 - 1 5/8 inches (3/5 - 4.1 cm). They live in New England, Nebraska, Georgia, Gulf Coast, Texas and southern Ontario, Canada. This one was filmed in Toronto. They are rapidly expanding their range and are found in open woods, railroad beds and by the sides on paths and roads. They belong to the Hesperiidae family, which can be a confusing group of many similar species. If you see butterflies in Ontario you can upload pictures and report sightings to:

When reporting butterfly sightings on Ontario Butterflies, please include the date, time, species if you know it, a picture when possible and your name. If you do that they can include it in the Butterfly Atlas.

I created this video with the YouTube Video Editor (http://www.youtube.com/editor)

Pictures and Videos © Act Naturally 2015

  Wild Indigo Duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae), Great Swamp, 4-16-12
Bryan Glemboski

Published on Apr 16, 2012

A Wild Indigo Duskywing hangs on for dear life in the wind today.

  Wild Indigo duskywing attempted mating
Paul Switzer

Published on Aug 11, 2015

A wild indigo duskywing skipper attempts to mate with another individual, with a dog day cicada serenade (11 Aug 2015; Coles Co, IL).

  Wild Indigo Dustywing, Erynnis baptisiae, pupa

Published on Feb 8, 2015

  Wild Indigo? Duskywing laying eggs on Groundnut (Apios americana)
Tom's Biological Videography

Published on Sep 11, 2016

This (likely) Wild Indigo Duskywing female was laying eggs on Groundnut along the river. Groundnut is not a listed larval host plant for either Wild Indigo or Zarucco Duskywings, the large visibly similar relative that this could also be.




Visitor Sightings

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Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
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  Greg Watson

Location: La Crescent, MN, backyard

wild indigo duskywing  
  John Shier

Location: Afton State Park

There is no wild indigo at Afton SP, but it is said that this species has adapted to crown vetch as a host plant, and there is quite a bit of that at Afton SP.

wild indigo duskywing  
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings






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