Atrytonopsis loammi - (Whitney, 1876)
Loammi Skipper
Other English Common Names: loammi skipper
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Atrytonopsis loammi (Whitney, 1876) (TSN 706597)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.110938
Element Code: IILEP79050
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Butterflies and Moths - Butterflies and Skippers
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Lepidoptera Hesperiidae Atrytonopsis
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 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: Atrytonopsis loammi
Taxonomic Comments: Although Klots (1951) appreciated the distinctness of this species, Atrytonopsis loammi was subsequently often considered to be a southern subspecies of A. hianna, based on literature citations of both having white spots on the underside of the hindwings in North Carolina where the general ranges of the two taxa overlap. However, these butterflies look quite different in eastern North Carolina and elsewhere and differ in biology as well as wing pattern. Their fooplants are different and A. loammi is bivoltine everywhere including its northernmost populations, while A. hianna is univoltine over the more than four degrees of latitude where their ranges overlap. There is no evidence that they hybridize, although they were nearly sympatric on the North Carolina Coastal Plain (Hall 2004). This treatment follows Pelham (2008) and most persons who are actually familiar with both taxa in treating them as separate species. The North Carolina dune populations, here treated as a separate species, may also be part of A. loammi.
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 05Aug2011
Global Status Last Changed: 27Apr2004
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Considered "rare" In Florida more than a decade ago, and that state had by far most of the documented occurrences (Minno in Deyrup and Franz, 1994), and at that time considered critically imperiled by North Carolina Natural Heritage. The southern dusted skipper has declined dramatically in more recent years. It appears to be extirpated from North Carolina and South Carolina. There used to be an occurrence just outside the Green Swamp in very similar habitat that was not subject to annual burning (Jeff Nekkola, pers com. to D. F. Schweitzer ca.1995) like much of the habitat in Green Swamp was. There are now about six known colonies in Florida and maybe still one in Mississippi. No new populations have been discovered despite increased interest in butterflies. Its numbers are apparently critically low at all known colonies, generally only a dozen or so are seen per visit. This species is likely to become extirpated from most or all of its range in 10-20 years and is at serious risk of extinction.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1 (28Feb2005)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Florida (S1), Louisiana (SH), Mississippi (S1), North Carolina (SH), South Carolina (SH)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Formerly spotty in the outermost coastal plain from southeastern North Carolina through most of Florida (Minno, in Deyrup and Franz, 1994) and a few records from the Florida panhandle to Louisiana (Opler, 1992, Brock and Kaufman, 2003, Schweitzer et al., 2011, and Marc Minno, pers. com. to D. Schweitzer, August 2011). It still occurs in about half a dozen scattered places on the Florida penisnsula and panhandle and might still in Mississippi.

Area of Occupancy: 3-125 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: No precise information is available but some populations occupy portions of large natural areas. Marc Minno who is familiar with most recently extant sites suggests that in total they probably occupy more than 1000 which would be an average of about 143 acres if there are only about seven remaining. They almost certainly do not occupy 5000 acres.

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: In an email of April 2004 to Dale Schweitzer, Marc Minno provided this up to date range-wide summary based on his own intensive field work and other sources: "I only know of 7 populations in the southeast, 6 in Florida and 1 in Mississippi. Like A. arogos it is extremely local and of low abundance. I've only ever seen a dozen or fewer at any particular locality. Steve Hall believes it to be extirpated from North Carolina. It is also losing ground in Florida as the savannah lands around Orange Park are developed." A miniscule percentage of original habitat remains and most of this is unoccupied. For a more recent review of status see (Schweitzer, Minno, and Wagner, 2011). It is uncertain whether the species still occurs in Mississippi but Minno (email of August 3, 2011) notes that the site, in Lamar County, was well-managed conservation land in the late 1990s so the species might still be there. As of 2011 most or all of the six recent Florida populations apparently still exist.

Population Size: 250 - 2500 individuals
Population Size Comments: According to Marc Minno only a dozen or fewer can usually be seen per visit at any current sites but he has occasionally seen 30-40 at one extant site. Reliable population estimates do not exist and probably are not possible now. Low numbers, especially when combined with mortality in even well-planned fires, could account for observations colonies tended to be temporary. Numbers seen per visit should under estimate the number of adults that day and certainly underestimates brood size. A dozen seen per day at peak can probably be safely extrapolated to less than 150, very possibly less than 50, for the brood if most of the habitat was covered and the flight season is something like twice the individual life span. Population size should be based on the smaller of the two annual broods. One population may be a bit larger (perhaps several hundred adults) but seems unlikely 2000 adults are produced per brood range wide, but with seven populations known to have persisted for a number of years presumably most produce more than 50 adults in most broods. Such a population size is below any reasonable critical threshold for long-term survival for an insect.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: None to few (0-12)
Viability/Integrity Comments: It is rather likely that zero to one occurrences should be ranked better than C and some might not be that viable.

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: As practiced currently prescribed burning appears to be a significant threat that has eradicated at least one recent population according to Marc Minno and others. According to Minno (email of April 2004): "Although all 6 populations in Florida occur on some public land, they are very susceptible to prescribed fire that burns too much of the habitat. All of these grasslands are small and easily burned. The Mississippi population is on private land." It is quite likely this species is so reduced that almost any prescribed burning regimen now poses a serious threat, but the habitat was naturally and historically fire-maintained. It is possible fire ants are a widespread and under appreciated threat.

Low to extremely low numbers and habitat fragmentation are now important factors. Minno points out there is clearly no gene flow between the few tiny populations. It had been reported even before the current crash that colonies tended to be temporary. The prognosis for this species is poor unless some substantial viable occurrences on relatively large habitats are located. This species is at risk of extinction within the next 10-20 years or possibly sooner.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 30-70%
Short-term Trend Comments: While little change is documented within the last 10 years, this species at serious risk of extinction.

Long-term Trend: Decline of >90%
Long-term Trend Comments: About 90 to >99% decline in past 100 years. According to Marc Minno this species is in serious decline in Florida which is most of its recent range.

Environmental Specificity: Narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements common.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: The few remaining potential habitats, especially any large ones subject to only partial burns (e.g. perhaps some military lands) need to be checked. There is an urgent need to locate any remaining viable occurrences.

Protection Needs: This species needs to be Federally listed as Endangered.

Global Range: (20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)) Formerly spotty in the outermost coastal plain from southeastern North Carolina through most of Florida (Minno, in Deyrup and Franz, 1994) and a few records from the Florida panhandle to Louisiana (Opler, 1992, Brock and Kaufman, 2003, Schweitzer et al., 2011, and Marc Minno, pers. com. to D. Schweitzer, August 2011). It still occurs in about half a dozen scattered places on the Florida penisnsula and panhandle and might still in Mississippi.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States FL, LA, MS, NC, SC

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
FL Charlotte (12015), Franklin (12037), Highlands (12055), Liberty (12077), Martin (12085), Okaloosa (12091), Okeechobee (12093), Orange (12095), Osceola (12097)
NC Brunswick (37019)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
03 Coastal Carolina (03040208)+*, Upper St. Johns (03080101)+, Kissimmee (03090101)+, Caloosahatchee (03090205)+, Florida Southeast Coast (03090206)+, Apalachicola (03130011)+, New (03130013)+, Pensacola Bay (03140105)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
General Description: A mediaum size dark skipper of oepn flatwoods, savannas and dunes.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Substantially larger than Amblyscirtes species. Usually not very similar beneath to the familiar A. hianna, and not likely to be confused with it. Probably most likely to be confused with a female sachem or dark specimens of Hesperia species. The combination of the usual Atrytonopsis upperside pattern (see Brock and Kaufman, 2004, p. 338), that is with no warm browns, orange, or yellows above, and the prominent underside spot band should be diagnostic for an experienced observer or with a specimen or photo. The spot band is a somewhat variable out curved row of white spots. Other species with similar upper side pattern are either much smaller or lack the spot band or both. The spot band suggests a female sachem skipper but the spots are much brighter and the upperside is very different. If documentation will be by photograph, try to get exposures of upper and underside. Some are quite black with gray frosting beneath and many are much more brown as in Brock and Kaufman (2003). The range of A. hianna probably does not quite overlap this species although they come very close in the Carolinas and on the Florida panhandle. A. hianna is always dark beneath with gray shades outwardly and does not have a spot band beneath although there may be few small white dots. Note that the Viriginia female shown as A. hianna by Glassberg et al. (2000) is actually an unusual variant of Hesperia metea and so does not show this gray shading.. Since both Atrytonopsis species vary, it is not impossible that a very few extreme individuals could be difficult to place but a population and nearly all individuals can be easily identified. After about April, date would be diagnostic, only A. loammi has a second brood in late summer-fall. Glassberg et al. (2000) also illustrate this species. Not all eastern butterfly guides do so.

Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous, Sand/dune, Savanna, Woodland - Conifer
Habitat Comments: The habitat is most often pine flatwoods in Florida and apparently was generally, but it also can occur in more xeric pine savanna. The grass mix of the site is important and the foodplant must be more or less dominant. In addition there must be nectar flowers for both broods of adults. Fire management practices may be cruical in rendering habitat suitable or unsuitable.
Adult Food Habits: Nectarivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Lopsided Indian grass (Sorghastrum secundum) is the known larval foodplant and may be the only foodplant at current Florida sites. This skipper ranged too far north and west for this to have been the only foodplant rangewide. Foodplants outside of Florida are undocumented, but Schizacyrium scoparius, or species of Andropogon, are very likely because these gnera are used by the closely related A. hianna and North Carolina populations that are close to, and may be, A. loammi. Spring brood adults also use yellow thistle (Cirsium horridulum).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: There are consistently two broods rangewide, or possibly three broods (March-October) in parts of Florida. Adults apparently flew mostly in April to mid May and mid July through August in the Carolinas and about March into May and August to October, with peaks in April and September, in most of Florida; but the first peak is in March southward. Records from Florida are summarized by Glassberg et al. (2000). There was at least one collection in very late March in North Carolina. There appear to be no records from June or early July anywhere. The long interval between brood peaks southward suggests larvae aestivate during the Florida summer, and quite possibly for a few weeks northward. Diapause, either aestivation or hibernation is almost always as larvae in this subfamily and the early flight period suggests the last instar hibernates. The pupal stage lasts about two or three weeks, so would be in March-April and July-August northward.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: This species is so reduced and rare that there may be an immediate need to restore some semblance of metapopulation function such that sites can be recolonized. One important management issue is prescribed burning which has apparently eradicated some occurrences. Adequate refugia are essential and the entire habitat should not be burned over a one or two year period. Otherwise management involves mainly perpetuating substantial native savanna habitat. Fire is probably a necessary natural process, but it must be conservatively applied with a large portion of any occupied habitats not burned. While there is no direct evidence that they are a threat it would be prudent to kill any fire ant colonies in the habitats.
Management Research Needs: Better information regarding larval foodplants is needed.
Biological Research Needs: There is a real need to understand the role, if any, of fire in creating habitats for this species as well as in wiping out colonies. What times of year (if any) are larvae or pupae protected from fires? How effective is this species at colonizing new sites if they were to actually occur?
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Location with suitable grassland or savanna habitat where there is evidence of presence or historical presence with potential for continued presence and/or regular recurrence; minimally including a specimen or diagnostic photograph or exceptionally a genuinely expert sight record. It is strongly suggested voucher specimens be a single male per occurrence due to current low numbers.
Separation Barriers: Unknown, but probably few landscapes would really prevent dispersal.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 2 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Alternate Separation Procedure: Multiple colonies, whether persistent or transient, within a large savanna complex should be treated as a single metapopulation EO by using the suitable habitat distance even across stretches of savanna that are not optimum habitat.
Separation Justification: There are no data on movments, but both this species and the closely related A. HIANNA are virtually never seen more than 100 meters out of habitat. They probably do not often leave their primary habitat in search of nectar but obviously must sometimes colonize new sites and are potentially strong fliers. Therefore twice the minimum distance seems appropriate across unsuitable habitats unless future observations suggest otherwise. Genuinely suitable habitat will generally be occupied at least some years, if the species is present at all.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 1 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: In general an entire habitat patch would be assumed occupied if an EO is present at all. However this seems to be a localized species and it seems imprudent to assume occupancy over large areas based on limited observations. Therefore a conservative distance of 1 km is chosen until actual data are available. Also consider whether excessivley frequent fire could be making seemingly suitable habitat proximate to known sites function more as a sink than as habitat and do not infer occurrence into these areas. Specific guidance is unavailable but presumably for example this would apply to annually burned "habitat" at the very least.
Date: 03Jan2001
Author: Dale Schweitzer
Population/Occurrence Viability
Excellent Viability: No longer applicable anywhere in range, and unlikely to be again. This was probably a landscape level species with metapopulations spread over thousands of hectares with frequent deme extirpation (often from fires) and colonization (probably usually in the next flight season after fires). No known recent occurrences appear to have excellent prospects for persistence at current or better levels, or to maintain much genetic diversity, nor do any approach even mediocre original occurrences. Note this does not include the North Carolina island populations which are supposedly not this species.
Good Viability: No longer applicable anywhere in range, at least not by the taxonomic circumscription used here (see A specs). This would be metapopulations with several demes over at least hundreds of acres total that would have very good prospects for persisting and maintaining genetic diversity despite occasional "bottlenecks".
Fair Viability: This rank should be applied liberally to any occurrence that has some potential for persistence. A major consideration is that the occurrence not be subject to complete burns but does have some compatible management regimen, presumably partial burning in most places. Also consider habitat size, more than 20 hectares or so occupied would be a positive attribute. Places where one can reliably see 20 or more on a visit might be particularly likely to persist.
Poor Viability: Use this rank to flag populations that really have no reasonable chance for persistence for even the next ten years in their current state. Typically these would be places where one sees at most 1-10 adults on a visit and/or that are subject to complete burns.
Justification: All indications are that this was once a widespread landscape level species at least in Florida found widely in pine savannas. All stages appear to be more or less vulnerable to fires, late instar larvae and pupae perhaps least so since these are presumably close to or at the soil line among the grass clumps. Populations have been lost following prescribed burns at least at Ocala National Forest. Others have died out for no obvious reason. Nothing remotely resembling a best all time occurrence exists today or likely will again. At present only small remnant populations are thought to exist. Among these some professional judgement may be needed but the above guidelines should help separate those that might persist from those that are unlikely to do so. Regarding the taxonomy, note that North Carolina island populations in seaside dunes are not included as this taxon.
Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
Date: 27Jun2007
Author: Schweitzer, Dale F.
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: 19Mar2007
Management Information Edition Author: Schweitzer, Dale F.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 02Aug2011
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).

  • Brock, J. P., and K. Kaufman. 2003. Butterflies of North America. Kaufman Focus Field Guides, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY 284 pp.

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

  • Glassberg, J. 1993. Butterflies through binoculars: A field guide to butterflies in the Boston-New York-Washington region. Oxford University Press: New York. 160 pp.

  • Glassberg, J., M. Minno, and J. V. Calhoun. 2000. Butterflies Through Binoculars: Florida. Oxford University Press, New York, New York. 242 pp.

  • 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 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.

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