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FutureStarrAWild Indigo Duskywing
Range: Southern New England and southern Ontario west to central Nebraska; south to Georgia, the Gulf Coast, and southcentral Texas. The Wild Indigo duskywing is rapidly expanding its range and abundance by colonizing plantings of crown vetch along roadways and railroad beds. Comments: The Columbine, Wild Indigo, and Persius dusky wings belong to the "Persius complex," a confusing group of very similar butterflies. Erynnis baptisiae, the wild indigo duskywing, is a butterfly of the family Hesperiidae. It is found in North America from southern New England and southern Ontario west to central Nebraska, south to Georgia, the Gulf Coast, and south-central Texas.
Males may be seen as they perch on low sunlit vegetation in open areas. Females may be seen in a low, bouncing flight near host plants on which they often perch in order to rest or to lay eggs. The Wild Indigo Duskywing is sporadically found throughout Alabama. It may become more widespread as one of its potential host plants, Crown Vetch (Securigera varia) is increasingly used as a groundcover along roadsides. Historically, the host plants of the Indigo Duskywing in Wisconsin have probably been several species of Wild Indigo (Baptisia), Lupine (Lupinus), or other legumes. In the last thirty-some years the Wild Indigo Duskywing has also added the Crown Vetch (Coronilla varia) as a host plant, a species that has been planted along roadsides for erosion control, and this species has utilized these roadside corridors to increase its range throughout the east. A complication arises because in the western part of the state, along river bluffs especially, Wild Columbine may be present in the bluffs, while Crown Vetch adorns the roadside ditches below. So if you see a Duskywing, it becomes very difficult to say which species it may be based on the host plants. In addition, using the host plants may not be entirely accurate, since Wild Indigo Duskywing larvae have been raised on (Aquilegia) in the lab.
The Columbine Duskywing is certainly the most similar species in Wisconsin. The Columbine Duskywing (forewing length usually 13-15 mm) is smaller than the Wild Indigo Duskywing (forewing length usually 16-18 mm), but both are usually identified also by their distribution and association with the host plant. The Persius Duskywing is also very similar, but it has the four white, hyaline spots arranged in a straight row. Male Persius Duskywings also have white hairs scattered throughout the upper forewing which are lacking in the Wild Indigo Duskywing.Not until 1936 was Wild Indigo Duskywing described as a species separate from Persius Duskywing (Forbes 1936). But Thaddeus W. Harris was probably referring to this duskywing in his 1862 report, when, at the end of a section on Juvenalï¿½s Duskywing, he writes: ï¿½There is a local variety of this skipper, that is much more common in Massachusetts than the preceding, of inferior size, seldom expanding more than 1.4 inch, in which the white spots are smaller, and the seventh is wanting near the middle of the fore wing. This skipper is found in meadows in May and again in August. The caterpillar lives on various pea-blossomed plants...ï¿½ (1862: 309). (Source: www.butterfliesofmassachusetts.net)