New Jersey Butterflies

Rare Skipper

Problema bulenta

Identification: Very small—FW ≥0.7". Sexes similar below. Above: Male FW bright orange with very broad, blackish-brown trailing border, and an inconspicuous, angled, dark cell-end bar. HW has central orange patch with surrounding dark borders, narrower than those on FW. Female FW has much less orange than male's, with two dark, oval patches separated by a narrow orange patch; the outermost dark patch barely touches the trailing border. HW similar to male's. Both sexes may show narrow pale rings on abdomen. Below: Both wings are bright, unmarked orange and have grayish fringes. Male's FW cell-end bar sometimes visible when wings are folded. Similar skippers: Delaware is noticeably smaller, is brighter orange below, and has conspicuous black veining above. Male's cell-end bar usually not visible below. Arogos is duller orange below with pale veins, has pale fringes, and above lacks dark veining and female's large dark FW mark. (Arogos Skippers seldom bask, however, so upperside is usually hard to see.) In NJ, ranges of Rare and Arogos skippers do not overlap. European is much duller orange overall, with very narrow dark borders on upper wings.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Locally common from Burlington County south.

NJ Range Map-Rare Skipper

Habitat: Restricted to fresh/brackish tidal marshes with food plant. Will stray from its marsh habitat to visit nearby gardens.

Flight Period: Late June—early August, with one brood peaking in July. Extreme dates: 6/2—8/21.

Larval Food Plants: Tall Cordgrass (Spartina cynosuroides).

Overwintering Stage: Not reported.

Best Locations: Dennis Creek WMA, Heislerville WMA, Tuckahoe WMA, Millville WMA, Peaslee WMA, Belleplain SF, Eldora Nature Preserve, Cape May Bird Observatory CRE gardens.


Rare Skipper

Fairfield Twp., Cumberland Co., NJ, 6/29/11, on Common Milkweed.

Rare Skipper

Male, Cedarville, Salem Co., 7/5/04.

Saltmarsh Grasses

Photograph of a NJ saltmarsh with 3 species of butterfly host plants. In the foreground is Saltmarsh Cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) which may be a primary host for Saltmarsh Skipper and possibly Aaron's Skipper. In the middle distance is Tall or Big Cordgrass (S. cynosuroides) which is a host for Rare Skipper in NJ and Broad-winged Skipper. And the tall grass in the back is Common Reed (Phragmites australis) which is another host for Broad-winged Skipper.