Hesperia metea - Scudder, 1863
Cobweb Skipper
Other English Common Names: cobweb skipper
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Hesperia metea Scudder, 1863 (TSN 706623)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.106815
Element Code: IILEP65100
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
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: Hesperia metea
Taxonomic Comments: The two subspecies have not been evaluated but most of the range has the nominate one.
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 14Aug2009
Global Status Last Changed: 01Sep1998
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N4N5 (01Sep1998)

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 Alabama (SNR), Arkansas (SU), Connecticut (S4), Delaware (S1), Georgia (SU), Illinois (S3), Indiana (S2S3), Kansas (S1S2), Kentucky (S2S3), Maine (S2S3), Maryland (S3), Massachusetts (S4S5), Michigan (S4), Mississippi (S4?), Missouri (S3S4), Nebraska (S1), New Hampshire (S3), New Jersey (S4), New York (S4), North Carolina (S3), Ohio (S2?), Oklahoma (S4), Pennsylvania (S2S3), Rhode Island (S4), South Carolina (SNR), Tennessee (S3S4), Texas (SNR), Vermont (S1), Virginia (S4), West Virginia (S2), Wisconsin (S2)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

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: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, CT, DE, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV

Range Map
No map available.

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
DE Kent (10001)*, Sussex (10005)
IL Greene (17061)*, Mason (17125), Pike (17149)*, Pope (17151)*, Scott (17171)*
IN Harrison (18061), Jasper (18073), Newton (18111)
NE Harlan (31083)
NH Hillsborough (33011), Merrimack (33013)
PA Berks (42011), Chester (42029), Lancaster (42071), Monroe (42089)*, Montgomery (42091)*, Philadelphia (42101)*
WI Bayfield (55007), Burnett (55013), Douglas (55031), Eau Claire (55035), Jackson (55053), Marinette (55075), Monroe (55081), Sauk (55111)
WV Grant (54023), Greenbrier (54025), Lewis (54041), Pendleton (54071)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Merrimack (01070006)+
02 Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead (02040104)+*, Lehigh (02040106)+*, Schuylkill (02040203)+, Brandywine-Christina (02040205)+, Lower Susquehanna (02050306)+, Choptank (02060005)+*, South Branch Potomac (02070001)+, Western Lower Delmarva (02080109)+
04 Beartrap-Nemadji (04010301)+, Menominee (04030108)+
05 West Fork (05020002)+, Greenbrier (05050003)+, Blue-Sinking (05140104)+, Lower Ohio-Bay (05140203)+*, Saline (05140204)+*
07 Upper St. Croix (07030001)+, Namekagon (07030002)+, Lower St. Croix (07030005)+, La Crosse-Pine (07040006)+, Black (07040007)+, Eau Claire (07050006)+, Castle Rock (07070003)+, Lower Wisconsin (07070005)+, The Sny (07110004)+*, Kankakee (07120001)+, Lower Illinois-Lake Chautauqua (07130003)+, Lower Illinois (07130011)+*, Macoupin (07130012)+*
10 Harlan County Reservoir (10250009)+, Middle Republican (10250016)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Habitat Type: Terrestrial
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Grassy openings in many sorts of xeric woodland or shrubland such as serpentine barrens, shale barrens, pine barrens, oak savannas, trap rock glades, granite glades. Also quite commonly eastward in right of ways and outer margins of airports on sandy soil.
Adult Food Habits: Nectarivore
Food Comments: Caterpillar Hosts: Beard grasses including little bluestem (Andropogon scoparius and A. s. var. glomeratus) and big bluestem (A. gerardi). Adult Food: Nectar from flowers of low-growing plants such as Labrador-tea, wild strawberry, blackberry, bird's-foot violet, winter cress, and red clover; also lilac, vervain, Carolina larkspur, and wild hyacinth (Lotts and Naberhaus 2017).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary Not yet assessed
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
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 07May2001

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

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  • Belth, Jeffrey E. 2013. Butterflies of Indiana A Field Guide. Indiana University Press.Bloomington, IN.


  • Ely, Charles A., M.D. Schwilling, and M.E. Rolfs. 1986. An annotated list of the butterflies of Kansas. Fort Hays Studies: Third Series (Science) Number 7.

  • Heitzman, R.J. and J.E. Heitzman. 1987. Butterflies and moths of Missouri. Missouri Dept. of Cons., Jefferson City, MO. 385pp.

  • Lotts, K., and T. Naberhaus, coordinators. 2017. Butterflies and Moths of North America. Available online: http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/ (Version December 2018).

  • Natural Resources Commission. 2014. Roster of Indiana Animals, Insects, and Plants That Are Extirpated, Endangered, Threatened or Rare. Information Bulletin #2 (Sixth Amendment. 20pp.

  • 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, Paul A., H. Pavulaan, and R.E. Stanford (coordinators). Butterflies of North America. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Home Page. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/lepid/bflyusa/bflyu sa.htm (Version 12Dec2003).

  • 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. Revised 14 February, 2012.

  • Pyle, R.M. 1981. The Audubon Society field guide to North American butterflies. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, NY. 916pp.


  • Sedman, Y. and D.F. Hess. 1985. The butterflies of west central Illinois. West. Ill. Univ., Series in the Biol. Sci. No. 11. 120pp.

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  • Shull, Ernest M. 1987. The Butterflies of Indiana. Publ. by Indiana Acad. Science, distributed by Indiana Univ. Press, Bloomington/Indianapolis, 262 pp.

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