Neonympha mitchellii - French, 1889
Mitchell's Satyr
Other English Common Names: Mitchell's satyr
Synonym(s): Euptychia mitchellii
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Neonympha mitchellii French, 1889 (TSN 201284)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.118820
Element Code: IILEPN3020
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Invertebrates - Insects - Butterflies and Moths - Butterflies and Skippers
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Mandibulata Insecta Lepidoptera Nymphalidae Neonympha
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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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: Neonympha mitchellii
Taxonomic Comments: For information on the species as a whole see subspecies N. m. mitchellii. All recent workers, including Kuefler et al. (2008) retain N. m. francisci as a subspecies. It is also possible someone will name the apparently extinct New Jersey populations or those in Virginia or Alabama as subspecies, but known differences are relatively minor. For now these are included with N. m. mitchellii and there do not appear to be major biological differences although the habitat is a little different (more acidic and not fens) in Virginia (S. Roble) and see table in Kuelfer et al. (2008) for the others. DNA and other analyses (Goldstein et al., 2004) support treating franciisci as a valid taxon, and show no compelling reason not to retain the others as a single taxon. This entire genus is in need of serious study. D. Schweitzer
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 27Sep2011
Global Status Last Changed: 08Feb2009
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by calculator
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Mitchell's Satyr has been eliminated from Ohio and New Jersey, and is believed to be critically imperiled in Indiana. There are two good occurrences and several smaller degraded occurrences in Michigan, and a few strong populations in Virginia. Degree of threats is high northward and populations seem to typically be small (a few hundred or less). Habitat of northern populations itself is globally uncommon and few examples have this butterfly. Potential for natural colonization events now at best extremely low northward, and is unclear in Alabama or Mississippi. There are probably less than 20 really viable populations but more could turn up in Mississippi, Alabama, perhaps Georgia, or elsewhere. There is not much chance of any substantial number of new occurrences being found from New Jersey to Michigan. Small populations have died out due to apparently natural fluctuations, at least in Michigan. The species may become management-dependent, especially in North Carolina and Virginia-but also northward depending on invasive plant issues, although current management is not a threat. Subspecies francisci is not imminently threatened, but is only one or two occurrences. Rank Calulator 3.1 rank is G2G3 with a value of C for number of occurrences with good viability. G2 is selected because there are more than a dozen extant populations with some protection for many of them. Also the sole occurrence of the North Carolina subspecies is a substantial metapopulation and it is possible there are similar occurrences in Alabama.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1N2 (18Oct2000)

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 (S1S2), Indiana (SNR), Michigan (S1), Mississippi (S1), New Jersey (S1), North Carolina (S1), Ohio (SX), Virginia (S1)

Other Statuses

Implied Status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE
Comments on USESA: Both subspecies (mitchellii and francisci) are federally listed as Endangered.

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 5000-200,000 square km (about 2000-80,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Mitchell's Satyr has a very spotty range within several widely disjunct regions which seem best treated separately, the only two substantial ones would be in southern Michigan and adjacent Indiana, and probably Alabama-Mississippi. Treating most of the eastern US as the range for the species would be misleading. Subspecies mitchellii occurred very disjunctly in calcareous regions along the last glacial maximum in northwestern New Jersey, a single site in Ohio, and with its main range along the Michigan-Indiana border. The Michigan-Indiana range would form a polygon of a few thousand square km. The Virginia are in a few adjacent counties would perhaps double that. In the late 1990s and since N. mitchellii populations were found in southwestern Virginia and in southeastern Alabama and Mississippi. It is known in Mississippi from two collections in 2003, one in Prentiss County and one in Tishomingo County (Tom Mann, pers. comm., 2009), with this last possibly the largest range segment. So three areas of a few thousand square miles, witth the possibility of a larger undocumented southern range. The species no longer occurs in New Jersey. The original range of subspecies francisci can probably never be determined and its miniscule range adds virtually nothing to the total range extent. It has only been found so far as known (2005) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It does not occur in the New Jersey Pine Barrens as might be expected on biogeographical grounds and where a lot of seemingly suitable habitat occurs. If it is extant elsewhere, other places in the Carolina Sand Hills region or perhaps the Florida panhandle-southern Alabama seem least unlikely but the population there does not appear to be that taxon. Old reports from Ft. Meade, on the fall line in Maryland for this species are discounted as probable errors, perhaps for N. helicta which produces variants with rounded eyespots, and there are no specimens extant. No species of the genus is actually documented in or near Maryland, although potential former habitats there would seem to have have been possibly suitable for N. mitchellii considering the variety of habitats it is now known to use (Kuefler et al., 2008).

Area of Occupancy: 2-25 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Most habitats are small, a few hectares at most, although often parts of larger wetlands. If there are about 20 such occurrences the area of occupancy for N. m. mitchellii would probably be under 200 hectares. The metapopulation of N. m. francisci might occupy more area than any others.

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: See also subspecies N. m. mitchellii. The number of discrete occurrences is unclear, but only one or two for subspecies francisci both on the same US military base. The 17 "subpopulations" in Alabama (Kuefler et al. (2008) need to be better evaluated. It is not clear whether these cluster into metapopulations as in N. m. francisci, which be best treated as a few high quality occurrences. Many of the more northern populations are apparently quite small and some may no longer exist. See discussion for that subspecies. It is known in Mississippi from two collections in 2003, one in Prentiss County and one in Tishomingo County (Tom Mann, pers. comm., 2009).

Population Size: 2500 - 10,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: This is an educated guess. Barton and Bach (2005) provide an MRR estimate of about 1100 for a Michigan site in 2003. This is probably the largest extant population of the species. Kuefler et al. (2008) report about a two fold fluctuation over several years, which is quite modest and most of this variation may have reflected habitat changes/instability. Allowing for inaccessible portions of the habitat, and assuming these contribute roughly as many adults as the portions that were studies, their data suggest around 1500 to 2500, or slightly more, most years for subspecies francisci. Populations in stable relict habitats probably do not fluctuate as much. Since it seems nearly certain that excessive collecting really did contribute to the extirpation of this species in New Jersey, as far as known, a unique case among North American butterflies, it is very likely that populations there were only a few dozen adults per year. Casual observation suggests some others are also dozens to at most a few hundred. The geographic range is large enough that populations would not fluctuate synchronously range-wide. While there is no estimate for most populations and MRR for very few, it is quite unlikely the total adults is under 2500 in any given year.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Few (4-12)

Overall Threat Impact: High - medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Former threats and causes for decline included filling of habitats, overcollecting (New Jersey), ORVs (Michigan), possibly mosquito spraying. Federal listing has probably eliminated the threat from over-collecting, and provides a lot of protection on Federal lands. While threats to some sites on private property could arise in the future for now the threat level from direct human activities seems low, and in most places should remain so as long as ESA protection remains in place. However there are are possible serious threats to the habitat and all of these factors have destroyed or damaged similar habitats. Development of surrounding uplands could alter hydrology of habitats as is happening now to some fens in New Jersey. Beaver can destroy fens within a few days and create or destroy sedge meadows very quickly. Invasion by purple loosestrife and/or Phragmites can destroy habitats over a few years and is a threat at least northward. Excess deer herbivory can reduce or eliminate nectar sources although it is not known how important flowers actually are (Barb Barton has documented nectaring several times in Michigan). It is not known whether deer could seriously damage the foodplants or consume many larvae. While in most cases population sizes are not really known, it seems very likely some or even many are only dozens to around a couple hundred adults per year and certainly subpopulations often are. Since almost or quite all occurrences of subspecies mitchellii, unless maybe in Alabama, are now completely isolated there is a high risk of extirpation of smaller occurences during any natural "bad years" and a strong probability some loss of genetic variability has occurred in some populations. Climate change could eliminate populations if habitats become drier and thus more vulnerable to succession. This is one of very few species of Lepidoptera, probably the only one, in the eastern US for which anecdotal reports of potentially widespread impacts from collecting are credible, especially in New Jersey where both of the last two known small populations were subject to repeated collecting, less likely in Michigan, but very unlikely elsewhere. See USFWS documentation.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Has stabilized, at least in Michigan and Indiana, as a direct result of listing under the US Endangered Species Act; seems stable in North Carolina and Virginia, and as far as known elsewhere.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 10-90%
Long-term Trend Comments: Considered extipated in New Jersey and the one Ohio site is now farmland, but otherwise there is little basis for any speculation. A few small colonies in Michigan have also apparently died out. Most populations were probably destroyed long ago for agriculture and other uses, but all that is certain is that there has been substantial decline.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Moderately vulnerable
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Some recent populations have been lost for uncertain reasons. Small population sizes suspected, in some places documented, at most sites leaving them vulnerable to many factors. Subspecies francisci habitats are unstable, fire maintained, often created originally by beavers, and all stages are vulnerable to fire if the actual habitat burns.

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

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: Much inventory work has already been done, and by far the majority of "suitable" habitats are vacant. There are probably few or no undiscovered populations in New Jersey or the Midwest, so there do not appear to be obvious needs other than to check more places in the Southeast.

Distribution
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Global Range: (5000-200,000 square km (about 2000-80,000 square miles)) Mitchell's Satyr has a very spotty range within several widely disjunct regions which seem best treated separately, the only two substantial ones would be in southern Michigan and adjacent Indiana, and probably Alabama-Mississippi. Treating most of the eastern US as the range for the species would be misleading. Subspecies mitchellii occurred very disjunctly in calcareous regions along the last glacial maximum in northwestern New Jersey, a single site in Ohio, and with its main range along the Michigan-Indiana border. The Michigan-Indiana range would form a polygon of a few thousand square km. The Virginia are in a few adjacent counties would perhaps double that. In the late 1990s and since N. mitchellii populations were found in southwestern Virginia and in southeastern Alabama and Mississippi. It is known in Mississippi from two collections in 2003, one in Prentiss County and one in Tishomingo County (Tom Mann, pers. comm., 2009), with this last possibly the largest range segment. So three areas of a few thousand square miles, witth the possibility of a larger undocumented southern range. The species no longer occurs in New Jersey. The original range of subspecies francisci can probably never be determined and its miniscule range adds virtually nothing to the total range extent. It has only been found so far as known (2005) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It does not occur in the New Jersey Pine Barrens as might be expected on biogeographical grounds and where a lot of seemingly suitable habitat occurs. If it is extant elsewhere, other places in the Carolina Sand Hills region or perhaps the Florida panhandle-southern Alabama seem least unlikely but the population there does not appear to be that taxon. Old reports from Ft. Meade, on the fall line in Maryland for this species are discounted as probable errors, perhaps for N. helicta which produces variants with rounded eyespots, and there are no specimens extant. No species of the genus is actually documented in or near Maryland, although potential former habitats there would seem to have have been possibly suitable for N. mitchellii considering the variety of habitats it is now known to use (Kuefler et al., 2008).

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 AL, IN, MI, MS, NC, NJ, OHextirpated, VA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AL Bibb (01007)
IN La Porte (18091), Lagrange (18087), Steuben (18151)*
MI Barry (26015)*, Berrien (26021), Branch (26023), Cass (26027), Jackson (26075), Kalamazoo (26077)*, Lenawee (26091)*, St. Joseph (26149), Van Buren (26159), Washtenaw (26161), Wayne (26163)*
MS Alcorn (28003), Itawamba (28057), Monroe (28095), Prentiss (28117), Tishomingo (28141)
NC Cumberland (37051), Hoke (37093)
NJ Morris (34027)*, Sussex (34037)*, Warren (34041)*
VA Floyd (51063)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Rondout (02020007)+*, Hackensack-Passaic (02030103)+*, Raritan (02030105)+*, Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+*
03 Upper Cape Fear (03030004)+, Cahaba (03150202)+, Upper Tombigbee (03160101)+, Buttahatchee (03160103)+, Lower Black Warrior (03160113)+
04 St. Joseph (04050001)+, Kalamazoo (04050003)+*, Upper Grand (04050004)+, Thornapple (04050007)+*, Huron (04090005)+, Ottawa-Stony (04100001)+*, Raisin (04100002)+
05 Upper New (05050001)+
06 Lower Tennessee-Beech (06040001)+
07 Kankakee (07120001)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly.
Ecology Comments: Ecology of the subspecies is very different. See accounts for each.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, HERBACEOUS WETLAND
Habitat Comments: For subspecies MITCHELLII calcareous fen complexes but not necessarily the most exemplary part from a botanical perspective. Some habitats would be called sedge meadows rather than fens. Typically, CAREX STRICTA is the dominant sedge. Presence of tall shrubs or larches for cover probably important. Past land use may also be an important factor since the subspecies is now basically relictual. See recovery plan for more detail. Habitats in New Jersey were similar to those in Michigan, but smaller. Precise habitat parameters are not well known. For subspecies FRANCISCI see separate documentation, but basically beaver and/or fire maintained sedge meadows in a wet southern pineland landscape. Habitats for subspecifically unassigned populations in southwestern Virginia are apparently similar to those farther north, that is more or less limey CAREX STRICTA meadows.
Adult Food Habits: Unknown
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Larvae feed on sedges but precise species are not known. See documentations for the subspecies.
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Larvae occur most of the year and hibernate partially grown. Adults occur in late June to mid July in most places but May-June and late July- August in North Carolina. Apparently flew latest in New Jersey. See separate documentation for subspecies. Adult activity may extend later in the day than most butterflies but they are not crepuscular.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Help
Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: The foodplants are still not well documented. It would be very useful to better characterize the current composition and biogeography of occupied habitats, which would enable more targeted searches for possible new populations.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Use SPECS for the subspecies and include Virginia and all other southern populations except N. m. francisci with the nominate one. A sedge wetland where the species occurs or has recently occurred and where there is potential for persistence or regular recurrence. Minimally a diagnostic photograph of an adult in or very near suitable habitat. Since both subspecies are Federally Listed, a specimen is no longer usually an option for this species. Given this, it is highly recommended that photographers get good images of at least two adults should they locate a new occurrence within the range the other species of the genus in the southeastern states.
Mapping Guidance: See Specs for the subspecies.
Separation Barriers: Unknown
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 2 km
Separation Justification: See subspecies.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .2 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: For now it seems very prudent to be conservative and not assume any newly found occurrences are large even for subspecies FRANCISCI until they are better studied. Unlike most butterflies it is definitely not clear that this species can be expected to fully occupy what seems to be suitable habitat, and there have been claims that it does not. In fact adults may be very reluctant to move away from trees or tall thickets as are those on N. A. SEPTENTRIONALIS. In most cases initial inferred extent will be the immediate sedge meadow at the point of observation which will usually be only a few hectares.
Date: 30Jan2007
Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
Excellent Viability: See subspecies. Use those for N. m. mitchellii for all populations not assigned to N. m. francisci.
Good Viability: See subspecies. Use those for N. m. mitchellii for all populations not assigned to N. m. francisci.
Fair Viability: See subspecies. Use those for N. m. mitchellii for all populations not assigned to N. m. francisci.
Poor Viability: See subspecies. Use those for N. m. mitchellii for all populations not assigned to N. m. francisci.
Justification: See subspecies. Use those for N. m. mitchellii for all populations not assigned to N. m. francisci.
Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
Date: 15Feb2007
Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
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: 18Mar2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Schweitzer, D.F.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 27Dec2000
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).

References
Help
  • Barton, B.J. and C.E. Bach. 2005. Habitat use by the federally endangered Mitchell's Satyr Butterfly (Neonympha mitchellii mitchelii) in Michigan prairie fen. American Midland Naturalist 153: 41-51.

  • Goldstein, P. Z., S. P. Hall, B. Hart, S. M. Roble, and J. Shuey. 2004. Evaluation of relationships and conservation status within the Neonympha mitchellii Complex (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Report to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Raleigh Regional Office. Raleigh, North Carolina.

  • Kuefler, D., N. M. Haddad, S. Hall, B. Hudgens, B. Bartel, and E. Hoffman. 2008. Distribution, population structure and habitat use of the endangered Saint Francis Satyr Butterfly, Neonympha mitchellii francisci. American Midland Naturalist 159:298-320.

  • 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. Revised 14 February, 2012.

  • Perkins, P. D. 1983. North American insect status review. Contract 14-16-0009-79-052. Final report to Office of Endangered Species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior. 354 pp.

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