New Jersey Butterflies

Mulberry Wing

Poanes massasoit

Identification: Very small—FW ≤0.6". Sexes similar below. Above: Male FW and HW usually completely dark blackish-brown, with purplish ("mulberry") sheen when fresh; may have pale "bracelet" and two small, central marks. Female also dark above, with more-prominent central spots on FW and variable pale marks in HW. Below: Both sexes have rusty-brown HW with bold, yellow mark shaped like an airplane. Individuals completely suffused with rusty-brown below are very rare in North Jersey, but frequent in South Jersey. Similar skippers: Often found with Black Dash, which is similar in color below but with a vague, chunky-shaped mark on the HW rather than a bold, airplane-shaped mark.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Rather uncommon and local in North and Central Jersey, but can be locally common. Less common and more local on the Coastal Plain.

NJ Range Map-Mulberry Wing

Habitat: Tussock Sedge (Carex stricta) marshes. May be attracted to flowers in nearby gardens.

Flight Period: One brood in North Jersey from late June to late-August. Extreme dates: North Jersey 6/25—8/26; South Jersey 6/16—7/31.

Larval Food Plants: Tussock Sedge (Carex stricta).

Overwintering Stage: Unknown.

Best Locations: High Point SP, Pigeon Swamp SP, Great Swamp NWR, Lakehurst Bog and RR tracks, Tuckahoe River access points in Belleplain SF.

Comments: More than 50/day of this obligate wetland species have been seen nectaring at Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris)—a native species of mint—and other flowers along a short stretch of Sawmill Road in High Point SP in midsummer. This is perhaps the best place in the state to see such large numbers.

Mulberry Wing

Male, Passaic River Pk., Morris Co., NJ, 7/4/09.

Mulberry Wing

Mahlon Dickerson Res., Morris Co., NJ, 7/25/08.