|scientific name Thymelicus lineola |
common name European Skipper
Open grassy areas, often disturbed, such as roadsides and hay fields.
This is one of three plain orange skippers in our fauna, with only a small dark stigma dorsally on the males, and without a contrasting wing pattern ventrally. Dorsally, the wing margins are dark, and the darkness extends onto the apices of the wing veins. The wing fringe is orange. Oarisma garita has a white wing fringe, more diffuse dark wing margins dorsally, and light coloured wing veins ventrally. Atrytone logan is larger, with longer antennae, more distinct dark wing margins and dark wing veins dorsally, and a dorsal forewing cell-end bar. As well, note that Thymelicus is more prone to hovering in flight, rather than "skipping" in the fashion of the other two species.
Thymelicus lineola is the only species of North American skipper for which eggs are the overwintering stage. There is one brood in Alberta, which begins to emerge in late June.
As an introduced species, not of concern, although there is some evidence that this species might compete with and affect the behaviour of native Polites spp. in Ontario.
Grasses, and especially timothy (Phleum pratense).
This is an introduced European species that most likely spread to North America as overwintering eggs in grass seed, and first detected at London, Ontario, in 1910. It is widely established in eastern Canada and the United States, with isolated colonies in the west, one of which became established in Edmonton in the 1980s and is still spreading outward from that centre.
Joe Belicek (2014-03-13)
Thymelicus lineola (Ochsenheimer, 1808)
I collected my first voucher specimens of this species in 1987 (late June). They came from McKinnon Ravine in west Edmonton. Found in unmoved, grassy patches in ditches along the trail leading from 142 Street to the North Saskatchewan River. Subsequently, I collected many specimens in road ditches around Ellerslie, south of Edmonton. Over the years, as well as last year, in 2013 I saw them abundantly in McKinnon Ravine again. These observations confirm that European Skipper is firmly established in the Edmonton area (see also 1989 Alberta Naturalist 19: 36-37). Mesophilic, with preference for open habitats. Apparently univoltine. Males seem to be markedly territorial, awaiting females on higher stems of grasses & chasing away other males. Overwintering stage, as eggs with fully developed, pharate larva inside. The first instar larvae feed in the open. Larvae of later instars construct a tube from leaves (held together with silken threads). The larvae hide inside these tubes, leaving the tube only during feeding. Pupation also occurs inside this tube. During periods of scattered clouds in the skies, males seek sunny spots to keep the temperature flight muscles at optimal level (thermoregulation).
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