New Jersey Butterflies

Dreamy Duskywing

Erynnis icelus

Identification: Very small—1.2" (our smallest duskywing). Above: FW brown with an obvious silvery-gray patch at bend of wing and a gray, black-edged, chainlike pattern across the outer portion. No silvery spots are present in FW, but a small white dot is visible at leading edge of chainlike pattern. HW dark brown with a row of small, pale spots along the edge and other pale spots scattered in the outer half. Below: FW and HW dark brown with pale spots on HW mirroring upperside. Other: Palps are longer than those of Sleepy Duskywing, but this is not always obvious. Other differences are that Dreamy is smaller than Sleepy, has a white dot on leading edges of FW, and has a well-defined silver patch at bend of wing. Dreamy emerges later, so that when Dreamy reaches its peak, Sleepies are worn.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Locally common in the northern counties. Apparently absent from Burlington and Ocean counties south.

NJ Range Map-Dreamy Duskywing

Habitat: Dry, mixed, herbaceous/scrub-shrub fields, woodland edges and openings. Rarely seen in gardens.

Flight Period: One brood from late April to late June, but most common from mid-May to early June. Extreme dates: 4/18—6/26.

Larval Food Plants: Mainly shrub willows (Salix) and poplars (Populus).

Overwintering Stage: Larva.

Best Locations: Wildcat Ridge WMA, Assunpink WMA, Sparta Mountain WMA, Mountainside Park.

Comments: Look for this tiny duskywing in dry areas on sandy soil. Adults sometimes nectar at the bell-shaped flowers of blueberries (Vaccinium) and huckleberries (Gaylussacia). Although this species overlaps in space and slightly in time with Sleepy Duskywing, seldom are both species seen together, as they frequent habitats with different larval food plants. Dreamy and Sleepy Duskywings differ from Juvenal's, Horace's, and Wild Indigo in that they lack glassy FW spots.



Dreamy Duskywing

Male, Warren Co., NJ, 5/28/08.


Dreamy Duskywing

Female, Sourland Mountain Preserve, Somerset Co., NJ, 5/21/10, on Blackberry.


Dreamy Duskywing

Wildcat Ridge WMA, Morris Co., NJ, 5/12/12.