New Jersey Butterflies

Least Skipper

Ancycloxypha numitor

Identification: Tiny—FW <0.5" (NJ's smallest grass-skipper). Sexes similar. Rounded wings are distinctive, as is busy but weak flight within vegetation near the ground. Above: FW dark, either completely or with an orange patch along the leading margin. HW orange with a medium-wide, even-edged dark border along leading and outer margins. Abdomen orange with a dark stripe along the top. Below: FW dark, with a broad orange band along leading and trailing margins (when wings are closed, only the orange is visible). HW plain orange, paler in the center. Similar skippers: European is larger, with triangular wings.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Common to abundant throughout.

NJ Range Map-Least Skipper

Habitat: Grassy wetlands of all kinds.

Flight Period: Three broods resulting in an extended flight from late May—October. Extreme dates: North Jersey 5/21—10/20; South Jersey 4/20—10/31.

Larval Food Plants: Various grasses, including Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea), Rice Cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides), bluegrasses (Poa)

Overwintering Stage: 3rd or 4th instar caterpillar.

Best Locations: Appalachian Trail Lands, Wallkill River NWR, Muckshaw Ponds Preserve, Troy Meadows, Higbee Beach WMA, Hidden Valley WMA, Riverwinds Scenic Trail.

Comments: Several hundred can sometimes be seen in the Appalachian Trail Lands marshes where they like to nectar on vetches, Purple Loosestrife, and other wetland flowers.

Least Skipper

Fredon Twp., Sussex Co., NJ, 9/12/10.

Least Skipper

Whittingham WMA, Sussex Co., NJ, 6/6/12.