Butterflies and Moths of North America

collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera

Dakota Skipper
Hesperia dacotae (Skinner, 1911)

Family: Hesperiidae
Subfamily: Hesperiinae
Identification: Forewings are stubby. Upperside is golden-orange with blurry dark markings; stigma of male forewing has black felt inside it; forewing of female has a white transparent spot below the end of the cell. Underside of the hindwing is yellow-orange in the male, brown-gray in the female; both with or without a faint band of spots.
Wing Span: 1 - 1 3/8 inches (2.5 - 3.5 cm).
Life History: Adults have a low, fast flight. Mating occurs on the first day of emergence, with males perching on low vegetation to watch for receptive females. Eggs are laid singly on broad-leaved plants, and the caterpillars must climb down into the grasses. Caterpillars eat grass leaves at night and make shelters of silken tubes lined with grass. Fourth-stage caterpillars overwinter in shelters that are partially underground.
Flight: One brood from mid-June to early August.
Caterpillar Hosts: Little bluestem (Andropogon scoparius), bluegrass (Poa pratensis), and panic grass (Panicum).
Adult Food: Nectar from a variety of flowers including prairie coneflower, purple coneflower, blanket flower, fleabane, black-eyed susans, ox-eye daisy, and harebell.
Habitat: Rolling hills of native tall-grass prairie.
Range: Southern Manitoba and western North Dakota to western Minnesota, south to northwest Iowa.
Conservation: Conversion of tall-grass prairie to agricultural use has eliminated most of the habitat of the Dakota Skipper, especially in Iowa. All populations should be protected.
NCGR: G2 - Imperiled globally because of rarity (6 to 20 occurrences), or because of other factors demonstrably making it very vulnerable to extinction throughout its range. (Endangered throughout its range).
Management Needs: Care should be taken not to extirpate populations through the use of fire as a management tool.
Comments: NULL