Amblyscirtes aesculapius - (Fabricius, 1793)
Lace-winged Roadside-Skipper
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Amblyscirtes aesculapius (Fabricius, 1793) (TSN 706566)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.112623
Element Code: IILEP80120
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Butterflies and Moths - Butterflies and Skippers
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Lepidoptera Hesperiidae Amblyscirtes
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Opler, P. A., and A. D. Warren. 2002. Butterflies of North America. 2. Scientific Names List for Butterfly Species of North America, north of Mexico. C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. 79 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B02OPL01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Amblyscirtes aesculapius
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 02Nov2010
Global Status Last Changed: 13Dec2006
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This species is local but widespread, and uncommon in some parts of its range. A thorough evaluation of its status would probably lead to a change of the rank to G4, apparently secure. On the other hand the entire entire genus could be declining in the east. This is the most secure of the three cane-feeding Amblyscirtes species, but it's not known how many occurrences exist and how many are viable over the long term. Rank Calculator rank comes out "G4?", however G4 seems like by far the most likely rank and G3 really the only other plausible one.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3N4 (30Sep1998)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (SU), Arkansas (S1S3), Delaware (SNR), Florida (S3S4), Georgia (S4?), Illinois (S2S3), Indiana (S1), Kentucky (S2S3), Louisiana (S3), Mississippi (S4?), Missouri (S2S3), North Carolina (S4), Oklahoma (S2S3), South Carolina (S3S4), Tennessee (S3S4), Texas (SNR), Virginia (S3)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: The most widespread of the southeastern cane feeding AMBLYSCIRTES, occupying most of the range of canes (Arundinaria gigantea, A. tecta), i.e. much of the USA from the Atlantic coast west to the Mississippi Valley south of about 38 degrees North. There are records, but not necessarily extant persistent populations, in 60% of the counties in the Carolinas but infomration is less complete elsewhere. It is considered widespread but uncommon to rare in Kentucky with recent or old records from 21 counties (Covell, 1999).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Population Size: Unknown

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Unknown

Overall Threat Impact: High - medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: The usual for a southeastern skipper, especially a cane feeder: habitat loss and fragmentation to development and even aged pine farms, probably suboptimal to incompatible fire regimens in many places, but in some parts of range fires suppression could also be a problem. Firee ants ants might be a problem since pupae are on the ground in the overwintering brood.

Short-term Trend: Decline of <30% to relatively stable
Short-term Trend Comments: Probably more or less stable. Certainly not rapidly declining.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 50-90%

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Not intrinsically vulnerable

Environmental Specificity: Moderate. Generalist or community with some key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Probably basically needs some sort of wooded habitat with canes, nectar sources, and a compatible fire regimen.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) The most widespread of the southeastern cane feeding AMBLYSCIRTES, occupying most of the range of canes (Arundinaria gigantea, A. tecta), i.e. much of the USA from the Atlantic coast west to the Mississippi Valley south of about 38 degrees North. There are records, but not necessarily extant persistent populations, in 60% of the counties in the Carolinas but infomration is less complete elsewhere. It is considered widespread but uncommon to rare in Kentucky with recent or old records from 21 counties (Covell, 1999).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
FL Alachua (12001), Gadsden (12039), Holmes (12059), Jefferson (12065), Lake (12069), Liberty (12077), Okaloosa (12091), Taylor (12123), Walton (12131)
IN Perry (18123)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Upper St. Johns (03080101)+, Oklawaha (03080102)+, Econfina-Steinhatchee (03110102)+, Aucilla (03110103)+, Lower Ochlockonee (03120003)+, Apalachicola (03130011)+, Yellow (03140103)+, Blackwater (03140104)+, Lower Choctawhatchee (03140203)+
05 Lower Ohio-Little Pigeon (05140201)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
General Description: A very prominently marked (ventrally) "roadside skipper". Adults illustrated in many references, see Tveten and Tveten (1996) for larva.
Diagnostic Characteristics: The prominent white bands and wing veins beneath make identification relatively easy for a skipper. Upperside pattern is similar to several other species in this and other genera.
Ecology Comments: See Tveten and Tveten (1996) for a first hand account of the life history.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Hardwood
Habitat Comments: Habitat is cane breaks usually in dense hardwood forests including bottomland forests, often along streams. Primarily an inland species, e.g. mostly in the piedmont of Georgia.
Adult Food Habits: Nectarivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Larvae feed on foliage of cane. Adults utilize a variety of flowers and visit mud puddles.
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Probably more than two broods per year. Adults occur from March or April to September in at least most of the range. Scott (1986) reports only June to September northward but Heitzman and Heitzman (1987) report three broods (mid April to mid September) in Missouri near the northern limit of the range. Larvae hibernate and might perhaps also aestivate.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: All stages are above ground and at least most of the year is spent on the canes, although it is possible hibernation is off the plant nearer the ground. Therefore prescribed burns that consume or scorch the canes and leaf litter will kill most or all larvae except in skips unless perhaps if the canes are wet. Refugia should be allowed when burning cane stands since these can harbor many uncommon to very rare Lepidoptera. Since this and most of the skippers have two or more broods each year recovery from refugia should occur quickly unless the species needs relatively mature canes. A given cane patch should not be burned every year or two years. Gypsy moth is now present in some parts of the range and will become a problem in most of the range, although probably not in habitats of this skipper unless they contain substantial oaks. The relatively late first brood peak (late May-mid June) in much of the range (Glassberg, 1999) suggests larvae overwinter in an earlier instar than most skippers, which could make them more sensitive to BTK applications aimed at gypsy moth. However, there is no way to be sure what the impacts from BTK would be for mid instar caterpillars of a species that has not been assayed (Peacock et al., 1998). Gypsy moth itself is unlikely to have any significant impact. Clear cutting would probably eliminate an occurrence for many years, but impact from selective harvest is difficult to predict.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Group Name: Hesperiinae

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: A location where the species occurs, or has occurred, where there is potential for persistence or regular recurrence. Minimally a suitable habitat with the larval foodplant where at least one adult has been verified by a photograph or preferably a specimen. Photographs must be diagnostic and will probably need to show both wing surfaces, and there will be circumstances where only a specimen will suffice. Specimens are usually much easier to obtain. Sight records are not an acceptable basis for a new occurrence. Note that these Specs should not be applied to temporary seasonal colonies of common migratory species.
Mapping Guidance: Note the suitable habitat distance will not apply often since most habitats today are no more than a few hundred hectares. However, many were once major landscape features. Suitable habitat distances may be used for barrens, savanna, and prairie species across degraded portions of these habitats that still contain some of the foodplant grasses or nectar flowers. Usually habitat boundaries are fairly obvious based on vegetation (e.g. suitable grassland). With metapopulations map the main breeding sites separately within the overall occurrence. Consult the habitat and food comments fields for species-specific information on what constitutes suitable habitat when mapping occurrences for individual species. Note many, if not most, habitat specialists feed one more than one grass genus at many or all occurrences. Note some species readily and some almost never entere wooded areas, so check habitat fields for the species before mapping.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 4 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Alternate Separation Procedure: When multiple occupied habitats occur within a large community complex or remnants of one such as patchily within a barren, savanna, or prairie remnant use the suitable habitat distance. When occurrences in a region are all small (under 10 hectares) and are widely scattered and there is some actual evidence of persistent patch vacancy, a separation distance of one kilometer may be used instead of two.
Separation Justification: These are mostly potentially strong fliers and the weaker ones like least skipper are often still very good colonizers probably because they fly persistently. Few species fly slower than 20 km per hour but they do not often seem to sustain flight for very long. A few are migratory and move hundreds of kilometers. Even some of the rarest taxa such as ATRYTONE AROGOS AROGOS and HESPERIA ATTALUS SLOSSONAE (both of which have individual Specs) are documented as moving several kilometers and implied to move much farther. HESPERIA LEONARDUS still shows up as singles in gardens and on roadsides ten kilometers or more from at least one of its three remaining large occurrences in New Jersey. Skippers do find and occupy small habitat patches up to a few kilometers from major ones, but are very often absent from small or recently created habitats five kilometers or more from good habitats or even over shorter distances separated by highly unsuitable habitats. Schweitzer notes adults of several species readily fly over forests which obviously would allow them to move between habitats. Most of them will move at least a few hundred meters to find nectar. While exceptions do occur, in general hesperiine skipper colonies occupy nearly all or none of a given suitable habitat or habitat complex. However very often mere presence of the larval foodplant does not mean suitable habitat.

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 1 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: In most cases the inferred extent is simply all contiguous or nearly contiguous habitat and usually this will be a few to a few hundred hectares which for almost all species is likely to be fully occupied even if at uneven densities. Use this distance only where the habitat is that extensive, but generally if the taxon is present any habitat patches within a kilometer will be occupied unless the species is excluded for example by extremely high fire frequencies or complete burns or lack of nectar. This figure is based in part on observations for ATRYTONE AROGOS AROGOS in New Jersey where it occurs in clusters of patches up to about a kilometer apart with within cluster patch occupancy nearly 100%, except approaching zero where fire intervals are about two years or less. This is one of the most imperiled skippers in North America and it is highly likely most other taxa are at least as effective colonizers. Another consideration in inferring any extent is that often the exact habitat is not clear and since it cannot be defined on the basis of any particular grass species there may be some doubt. One should not infer across any large distance based on one observation but if the habitat extends that far, a kilometer seems safe and most species can cover that distance in a few tens of seconds.
Date: 14Sep2001
Author: Schweitzer, Dale F.
Notes: Thes Specs are applied with reservation to AMBLYSCIRTES species.
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 02Nov2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Management Information Edition Date: 12Mar2007
Management Information Edition Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 12Mar2007
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): SCHWEITZER, D.F.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Covell, C. V., Jr. 1999. The butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) of Kentucky: An annotated checklist. Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, Scientific and Technical Series Number 6, Frankfort, Kentucky. 220 pp.

  • Deyrup, M. and R. Franz. 1994. Rare and Endangered Biota of Florida, Volume IV. Invertebrates. University Press of Florida: Gainesville, Florida. 798 pp.

  • Harris, L., Jr. 1972. Butterflies of Georgia. Univ. of Oklahoma Press. Norman, Oklahoma. 326 pp.

  • Heitzman, J. Richard and Joan E. Heitzman, 1987. Butterflies and Moths of Missouri. Missouri Dept. of Conservation, Jefferson City, MO. 385pp.

  • Opler, P. A., and A. D. Warren. 2002. Butterflies of North America. 2. Scientific Names List for Butterfly Species of North America, north of Mexico. C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. 79 pp.

  • Opler, P.A. and G.O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies East of the Great Plains, an illustrated natural history. Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore. 294pp.

  • Opler, P.A. and V. Malikul. 1992. Eastern Butterflies (Peterson Field Guide). Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 396 pp. + color plates.

  • Pelham, J. P. 2008. A catalogue of the butterflies of the United States and Canada with a complete bibliography of the descriptive and systematic literature. The Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera. Volume 40. 658 pp.

  • Schweitzer, D. F., M. C. Minno, and D. L. Wagner. 2011. Rare, declining, and poorly known butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) of forests and woodlands in the eastern United States. USFS Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, Technology Transfer Bulletin FHTET-2011-01. 517 pp.

  • Scott, J. A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America: A Natural History and Field Guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford CA. 583 pp.

  • Tveten, J. and G. Tveten. 1996. Butterflies of Houston and Southeast Texas. University of Texas Press, Austin.

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