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Adult Meske's skipper. Photo by Will Stuart. Image subject to copyright.
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Hesperia meskei (Edwards, 1877)

Meske's Skipper

Federal Protection: No US federal protection

State Protection: No Georgia state protection

Global Rank: G3G4

State Rank: S2S3

SWAP High Priority Species (SGCN): Yes

Element Occurrences (EOs) in Georgia: 0

Habitat Summary for element in Georgia: sandhills


Description

A medium sized skipper (27 - 35 mm).  The uppersides of the wings are dark brown with golden markings.  The undersides of the wings are golden with paler markings.  

Similar Species

Similar species include the firey skipper (Hylephila phyleus) and the sachem (Atalepedes campestris).  

Habitat

Typical habitat is sandhills/ longleaf pine communities.  Dry, grassy, wooded habitats also provide necessary habitat componants.  The larvae feeld on specific species of grasses. 

Diet

Adult butterflies favor pink and purple flowers in the Asteraceae family.  Preference for Liatria and Although in some locations, Lepidopteristis belifeve that the larvae feed on Little bluestem (Andropogon scoparius) and  arrowfeather threeawn (Aristida purpurascens), not all butterfly experts agree.  

Life History

Single eggs are laid on grasses.  It is possible that in Georgia there may be two broods as in other states.  

Survey Recommendations

Confirmation of the species of grass required by Meske's skipper larvae would greatly improve conservation efforts.  

Range

Southern North Carolina to the Florida Keys.  Scattered populations west to Texas. Locations in Georgia are unknown.

Threats

Habitat loss through development, agriculture, fire suppression, and spraying.  Prescribed burns are best when patchy.  Because it is unlikely that any life stages of the butterfly could survive fires, those living in unburned areas will need to repopuate burned areas.  Fire ants may be a threat.  Spraying for mosquitos may be detrimental to the species and likely contributed to the extincion of a subspecies of Meske's skipper in Florida (Hesperia meskei pinocayo). 

Georgia Conservation Status

Only a few records exist in Georgia.  More surveys are needed to search for this species.

Conservation Management Recommendations

Maintaining and restoring longleaf pine communities.  Herbicide use should be sparing as it will impact the species if it is present.

References

Schweitzer, Dale F., Minno, Marc C. and David L. Wagner.  2018. Rare, Declining, and Poorly Known Butterflies and Moths (Lepidoptera) of Forests and Woodlands in the Eastern United States.  2nd Edition.  USDA  Forest Health Assessment and Applied Services Team.  517 pgs.

Authors of Account

Anna Yellin

Date Compiled or Updated

January 2, 2020

Meske's skipper. Photo by Will Stuart. Image subject to copyright.