Arctic Skipper

Carterocephalus palaemon, Arctic Skipper, widespread in Minnesota. It was previously known from Carlton County by a historical record. There do not seem to be any recent records from the county other than this one.

 

This small butterfly with dark brown wings and yellow spots is the Arctic Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon). I saw it a few days ago on a warm, sunny, and humid afternoon on June 12. It was resting on a blade of grass in a sunny opening in an encroaching forest. Although the Arctic Skipper is widely distributed and ranked a G5 or “globally secure” there is only one record that I could find of it from Carlton County and it is historical but there was no information about when or where it was seen or who saw it.

Taxonomy
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
Family Hesperiidae (Skippers)
Subfamily Heteropterinae (Intermediate Skippers)
Genus/species Carterocephalus palaemon

Description
The upper wing surface is dark brown to almost black with roughly rectangular yellow spots. Below they are like the color of a deer fawn and marked with black-rimmed yellow spots. Wingspread is 2.5 to 3.2 cm.

Range
A circumboreal species found in North America from Alaska to Canada’s Atlantic coast and south to California and Pennsylvania. Not truly an Arctic species.

Larval Host Plants
Larvae of Carterocephalus palaemon eat grasses. In California purple reedgrass (Calamagrostis purpurascens) is reported as a larval host. In some European countries, brome (Bromus spp.) are preferred larval hosts.  Purple moor-grass (Molinia caerulea) has been reported as a larval host in Scotland. Purple reedgrass is rare in Minnesota and purple moor-grass does not grow here. There are bromes both native and introduced in the state as well as the native Canada bluejoint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis). It is likely that Carterocephalus palaemon larvae feed on other grass species besides the few mentioned in the literature.

 

SOURCES
Arctic Skipper Carterocephalus palaemon (Pallas, 1771) at BAMONA.

Carterocephalus palaemon (Pallas, 1771) at the Bourgogne-Nature website.

Chequered Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon) at the Sottish Natural Heritage website.

Species Carterocephalus palaemon – Arctic Skipper – Hodges#3982 at the Bug Guide website.

 

Another busy night and another huge moth

Sphinx kalmiae Laurel Sphinx Sphinx Moth
Sphinx kalmiae

 

Another busy and late night but a productive one. I added several more species to the checklist but this one was already on the list after I found a caterpillar of the species last fall. It is the Laurel Sphinx Moth (Sphinx kalmiae). There is an abundance of potential food plants (ash and lilac) for this moth to choose from right around my house so I am hoping to find a few caterpillars later this summer.

Moth Checklist Update

 

Its been a busy month and a half of mothing so far with many new species and as well as returning species seen last summer. As of May 31 the moth checklist for 2018 is now at 57 species with a combined checklist for 2017 and 2018 of 225 species. There are also many new ones in the “Unknown Moths” file. The latest checklist additions, all observed between May 26 and May 31, are Argyrotaenia marianaHelcystogramma melanocarpaAcronicta morulaElaphria versicolorEucosma awemeana, Petrophora subaequaria, Acronicta interrupta, Ancylis albacostanaLeuconycta diphteroides, Ectropis crepusculariaOrthofidonia flavivenata, Palpita magniferalisBibarrambla allenellaPlagodis pulverariaMonopis monachella, Pero morrisonariaApotomis funereaSemioscopis packardella, Tacparia desertata, Hydriomena renunciata, and Galgula partita. Returning species include Caloptilia stigmatella, Pseudeustrotia carneolaEuphyia intermediata, Tetracis crocallata, Gluphisia septentrionalis, Prochoerodes lineola, Metanema determinata, Metanema inatomaria, Plutella xylostella, Clostera albosigma, Acronicta lobeliae, and Idia americalis.

 

I finally found it

 

Ancylis albacostana that is. This was the moth species I believed I had found twice before but was wrong each time being thrown by the white wing margins. This time it is the real deal and was confirmed at Bug Guide last night. The first “discovery” was made several weeks ago after going through photos from last summer. The second was in late April after seeing another moth with a white stripe along its wing edge. It later turned out that these were two different species. The first one turned out to be Capis curvata and the second Acleris celiana. I’ve added photos of Capis curvata and Acleris celiana for comparison with this new moth so that the differences and similarities can be seen.

This moth, which I found on Monday night, fits Kearfott’s description of Ancylis albacostana very well: “Fore wing lead color, rather heavily overlaid on inner two-thirds below the costa [main vein along leading edge of wing] with brownish and blackish scales. From the base to the apex on the costa is a pure white band, widest at end of cell, where it is nearly a quarter the width of wing; continuing to base with only a trifle less width, and lower edge curving evenly into costa and ending in a point at apex.”

Heinrich (1923) says of Ancylis albacostana: “A striking species at once to be recognized by the shining white unmarked costa of fore wing.”

Taxonomy
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Family Tortriciodae (Tortricid Moths)
Family Tortricidae
Subfamily Olethreutinae
Tribe Enarmoniini
Genus/species Ancylis albacostana

Acleris celiana is also in the Superfamily Tortricidae, Family Tortricidae but separated to the Subfamily Tortricinae and Capis curvata is in the Superfamily Noctuoidea and Family Noctuidae (Owlet Moths).

Range
A. albacostana is known from a few locations in nine states Indiana, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina) and three Canadian provinces (New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario). In the Alberta Lepidopterists Guild 2011 spring newsletter there is a tentative report of A. albacostana from Medicine Hat, Alberta collected in 2009. The same report also mentions A. albacostana from Minnesota and Manitoba. Tortricid.net notes it was found in Manitoba in 1905 and that the specimen, which is shown on the web page, is housed in the U.S. National Entomological Collection a part of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

The Minnesota occurrence of Aalbacostana is referenced by Miller (1987) in Guide to the Olethreutine Moths of Midland North American Moths (Tortricidae) in the description of A. albacostana on page 82: “Forewing 7.5 to 8.5 mm long, dark areas grayish brown or brownish black. Adults captured May 29-June 30. Ml, MN.” It does not seem that a year for the collections is given in the paper.

Larval Host Plants
Caterpillars of A. albacostana feed on leaves of maple (Acer spp.).

 

SOURCES
Ancylis albacostana – White-edged Ancylis Moth – Kearfott, 1905 at Moth Photographers Group.

Ancylis albacostana Kearfott 1905 at Tortricid.net

Alberta Lepidopterists’ Guild Newsletter – Spring 2011 on page 15.

Beadle, D. and Leckie, S. (2012). Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, Boston. 640 pages.

Kearfott, W. D. (1905). Descriptions of New Species of Tortricid Moths From North Carolina, With Notes. Proceedings of the United States National Museum, Vol. 28: 319-364. Description of Ancylis albacostana on page 360.

Grehan, J. R., B. L. Parker, G. R. Nielsen, D. H. Miller, J. D. Hedbor, M. S. Sabourin, and M. S. Griggs. (1995). Moths and Butterflies of Vermont (Lepoidoptera): A Faunal Checklist. A joint Vermont Agricultural Experiment Station and State of Vermont publication. Misc. Publication 1167, VMC Bulletin 1. 86 pages. Vermont occurrence of Ancylis albacostana on page 16.

Heinrich, C. (1923). Revision of the North American moths of the subfamily Eucosminae of the family Olethreutidae. United States National Museum Bulletin. 123:1-298. Description of Ancylis albacostana on page 253.

Miller, W. E. (1987). Guide to the Olethreutine Moths of Midland North America (Tortricidae). United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Agriculture Handbook 660. 110 pages. Description of Ancylis albacostana on page 82.

Species Ancylis albacosta – White-edged Ancylis Moth – Hodges#3387 at Bug Guide.

Species Acleris celiana – Hodges#3533 at Bug Guide

Species Capis curvata – Curved Halter Moth – Hodges#9059 at Bug Guide.