Wild Indigo Duskywingor

Wild Indigo Duskywingor

Wild 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. 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.

Indigo Duskywing

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 Wild Indigo Duskywing is one of the trickiest Duskywings to identify in Wisconsin. Many authors say that this species and the Columbine Duskywing are probably indistinguishable in the field, except when in association with their host plants. The host plant of the Columbine Duskywing is Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), which is found throughout Wisconsin.

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 Juvenal�s Duskywing, he writes: �There 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...� (1862: 309).Museum specimens which date from later than 1936 are usually reliable. Wild Indigo Duskywing was found in 1939, 1941 and 1942 in Fall River (Bliffin�s Beach), Somerset, and Westport by W. P. Rogers; his specimens are mostly from May and July, but one from 20 Sept. 1939 documents three broods that year in that area (Yale Peabody Museum). In 1950 and 1952, Wild Indigo Duskywing was collected in Barnstable by C. P. Kimball (MCZ). In 1966 it was collected in Concord at Walden Pond Reserve by C. G. Oliver; in the 1970�s at Falmouth Wood�s Hole, Plymouth Halfway Pond Road, and Dover by L. F. Gall; and in 1985 and 1986 in Wellesley Babson College and Medford Middlesex Fells by D. F. Schweitzer (Yale Peabody Museum). In 1973, 1974 and 1977 it was found in Westwood, Dover, West Medway, and Medfield Junction by W. D. Winter; Winter also raised it at his home in Dedham on Baptisia tinctoria (specimens in MCZ). (Source: www.butterfliesofmassachusetts.net)


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