Hesperia attalus slossonae - (Skinner, 1890)
Seminole Skipper
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Hesperia attalus slossonae (Skinner, 1890) (TSN 707287)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.114907
Element Code: IILEP65122
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Butterflies and Moths - Butterflies and Skippers
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Lepidoptera Hesperiidae Hesperia
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: 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.
Concept Reference Code: B08PEL01EHUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Hesperia attalus slossonae
Taxonomic Comments: D. Schweitzer thinks this is possibly a full species mainly because early instar larval morphology (McGuire) apparently differs from H. attalus. W. McGuire considers the New Jersey race distinctive. If larval morphology differences are confirmed, then full species status would be warranted. Schweitzer considers differences between populations from NJ and elsewhere to be real but too minor to justify taxonomic status.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3G4T3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 30Mar2008
Global Status Last Changed: 30Mar2008
Rounded Global Status: T3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Very small three part range, local and uncommon to rare within. Considered as Special Concern in New Jersey and not listed as rare in Florida where it was fairly common. Declining in Florida and probably no longer occurs on North Carolina coast, but apparently stable in New Jersey. Probably formerly ranged somewhat more widely in southeast. Habitat specialist and apparently often very sparsely distributed. Habitats often require disturbances such as fire which maybe lethal to individuals present at the time. Adults are dispersive.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2N3 (06May2005)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (SNR), Florida (S3), Georgia (SH), Louisiana (SU), Mississippi (SU), New Jersey (S3), North Carolina (S2S3), South Carolina (SH), Virginia (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: Coastal plain and sand hills and only portions with large areas of very xeric, usally white, sand. Actual populations are known at least historically from southern New Jersey, the Carolinas, Florida and probably Georgia, especially Alabama, and perhaps Mississippi. Scattered records in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts probably represent transient populations or in most cases strays. The September date of the Massachusetts specimen indicates the Carolinas as the area of origin. Despite generalized range maps in older books there are no records (or likely habitats) in Rhode Island, Connecticut or Delaware. Both Glassberg (1999) and Brock and Kaufman (2003) give very much more accurate depictions of the true range (at least current range). The current range is essentially part of the New Jersey Pinelands, the North Carolina Sand Hills (formerly also outer coastal plain) and northern and western Florida.

Area of Occupancy: 26-2,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments:  

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: Very unlikely to be 100 A-C ranked EOs. May be more if D's are included.

Population Size: 2500 - 1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Usually very sparsely distributed in NJ and seldom common anywhere. The only population estimates are for an isolated metapopulation in Cumberland County, New Jersey which fluctuates but is aseveral hundred adults per year. In some places the species is very sparsely distributed over thousands of hectares (densities probably <1/ha) making estimation impossible. At other places adults are rather concentrated at least for nectaring.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Few to some (4-40)

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Habitat is being rapidly lost to development, pine plantations (except in NJ); also, fire suppression and probably in some places excessive prescribed burning. Threat probably high in much of Florida to low or moderate at New Jersey occurrences.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%

Long-term Trend: Decline of >70%

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Prob. often eradicated locally by fires, but southern habita ts require fires to persist. Small pops. quite fragile.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Apparently very narrow soil and moisture and vegetation structure and bre ground requirements even though larvae eat several common grasses and adults nectar from whatever is around.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Needs to be looked for rangewide -- especially outside NJ and FL.

Protection Needs: Extensive, fairly natural, longleaf pine savannas need to be protected and maintained by patchy burning.

Distribution
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Global Range: (20,000-200,000 square km (about 8000-80,000 square miles)) Coastal plain and sand hills and only portions with large areas of very xeric, usally white, sand. Actual populations are known at least historically from southern New Jersey, the Carolinas, Florida and probably Georgia, especially Alabama, and perhaps Mississippi. Scattered records in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts probably represent transient populations or in most cases strays. The September date of the Massachusetts specimen indicates the Carolinas as the area of origin. Despite generalized range maps in older books there are no records (or likely habitats) in Rhode Island, Connecticut or Delaware. Both Glassberg (1999) and Brock and Kaufman (2003) give very much more accurate depictions of the true range (at least current range). The current range is essentially part of the New Jersey Pinelands, the North Carolina Sand Hills (formerly also outer coastal plain) and northern and western Florida.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Map unavailable!:
Distribution data for U.S. states and Canadian provinces is known to be incomplete or has not been reviewed for this taxon.
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

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

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
FL Alachua (12001), Clay (12019), Duval (12031), Gadsden (12039), Lake (12069), Leon (12073), Levy (12075), Liberty (12077), Marion (12083), Nassau (12089), Okaloosa (12091), Osceola (12097), Putnam (12107), Walton (12131)
NC Cumberland (37051), Hoke (37093), Moore (37125), Richmond (37153), Scotland (37165)
NJ Atlantic (34001)*, Burlington (34005), Camden (34007)*, Cumberland (34011), Gloucester (34015)*, Monmouth (34025)*, Ocean (34029)
VA Loudoun (51107)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Crosswicks-Neshaminy (02040201)+, Lower Delaware (02040202)+, Cohansey-Maurice (02040206)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+, Great Egg Harbor (02040302)+*, Middle Potomac-Catoctin (02070008)+*
03 Upper Cape Fear (03030004)+, Lower Pee Dee (03040201)+, Lumber (03040203)+, Little Pee Dee (03040204)+, St. Marys (03070204)+, Upper St. Johns (03080101)+, Oklawaha (03080102)+, Lower St. Johns (03080103)+, Withlacoochee (03100208)+, Waccasassa (03110101)+, Apalachee Bay-St. Marks (03120001)+, Lower Ochlockonee (03120003)+, Apalachicola (03130011)+, Choctawhatchee Bay (03140102)+, Blackwater (03140104)+, Pensacola Bay (03140105)+, Lower Choctawhatchee (03140203)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Butterfly, Hesperiidae.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Most females and some males are easily recognized by the sharply defined spots on the hindwing beneath. However it takes practice to separate males from POLITES ORIGENES which are microsympatric and synchronic at most New Jersey sites. The forewing underside "Hesperia" spot will separate it from POLITES ORIGENES but this portion of the forewing is usually concealed while at rest. Many males (especially at Manumuskin, New Jersey) and less than 1% of females have the hindwing spot band beneath greatly reduced or lacking, so therefore some males cannot be positively identified without capture. The uppersides of HESPERIA and POLITES are quite different and this species does sometimes bask with the wings partly opened. In New Jersey and perhaps some other places generic identification will suffice since no other HESPERIA could possibly be present in these habitats in mid June to early August. See recent literature for illustrations. Look at two or more sources.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: See full species.
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Sand/dune, Savanna, Woodland - Conifer
Habitat Comments: Somewhat versatile but restricted to xeric to ultaxeric sandy situations or very nearly so. Reports from wetter habitats almost certainly indicate nectaring sites and not breeding areas, with the possible exception of some mesic reedgrass savannas. In New Jersey mostly old or active railroad beds, powerlines and airport runway areas in Pinelands. On Ft. Dix apparently a landscape level species throughout the Impact Area using a variety of disturbed grassy places and coming in some after fires on more natural sites but both sexes can basically be found where there is nectar available which shifts every week or so. Males usually do their territorial activities on old sand roads or scrapes in artificial grasslands dominated by PANICUM VIRGATUM but have been observed defending areas within mesic reedgrass savannas. Elsewhere in New Jersey found along old sand roads and especially around old gravel mines on the Manumuskin ultraxeric sands and there usually territorial on bare sand, old concrete (clearly preferred in 1999 but not in 2000) or even abandoned black top, again with P. VIRGATUM dominant. Weedy ARISTIDA grasses may be a good predictor of presence in New Jersey. Outside of New Jersey xeric longleaf pine/wiregrass savanna, disturbed or natural openings in sand hill scrub and other dry places. Sparse stunted grasses and patches of xeric bare white sand appear to be constant habitat feature at least north of Florida. Can move considerable distances for nectar but unclear how far--certainly at least a kilometer. In both New Jersey and North Carolina nectar is rarely available in the immediate xeric grassy areas. The major exception is knapweed (virtually sole nectar source there) in Cumberland County, New Jersey. That population so strongly prefers artificial dune/swale topography and some other New Jersey sites are similarly artificially very open, that Schweitzer suspects dune areas (now all but gone in the state) were a major original habitat in new Jersey as Gatrelle (2000) also reports for subspecies NIGRESCENS in South Carolina.
Adult Food Habits: Nectarivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Larval foodplants obviously grasses as for almost all Hesperiinae. As with most of genus this one probably uses several genera including SCHIZACHYRIUM SCOPARIUM if it is available. Besides S. SCOPARIUM (twice), Schweitzer has also seen oviposition on a small broad leafed PANICUM at Manumuskin, New Jersey and stongly suspects P. VIRGATUM is a major foodplant there and in the Pine Barrens (50 kilometers to the North). Wiregrass has been observed by several workers to be a foodplant in Florida. Adults take nectar from a wide variety of flowers such as thistles, knapweed, CLETHRA, milkweeds which are rarely actually avilable in the breeding habitat in mid summer--except knapweed in New Jersey.
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: In New Jersey one brood about 16 June into early August, peaking about late July, with one September report; except a briefer period, about July 10 to August 5 or shorter at Manumuskin. Larvae overwinter probably about half grown. Farther south two broods, maybe three or four in Florida. Adults have very consistent dirunal activity patterns as well. Nectaring is mostly between 1100 and 1330 hours, occasionally earlier or after 1630. Territorial display and presumably mating are mostly after 1500 hours but basking males (before 1100) also investigate other passing skippers and will mate then. Three oviposition sequences observed by Schweitzer at Manumuskin site were in mid afternoon.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Determine if any stages can survive fires. Determine which Aristida used, EO extents in NJ, verify foodplant in NJ.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Use specs for the full species which are based essentially on this subspecies.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 30Mar2008
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 25Apr2000
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): SCHWEITZER, DALE

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

References
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  • Gatrelle, R.R. 1999 [1998]. Subspecific Status of southeastern U.S. Megathymus cofaqui and M. yuccae: renaming of the Florida subspecies of M. cofaqui . The Taxonomic Report of the International Lepidoptera Survey 1(4):1-5.

  • McGuire, W.W. 1998. 37. Descriptions of three new subspecies of Hesperia (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae) from the western United States. Pp. 461-474 in: T. C. Emmel, editor. Systematics of western North American butterflies. Mariposa Press, Gainesville, Florida.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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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