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Species at Risk - A guide to Canada's species at risk in the Prairie Provinces – March 2014

Insects

Dakota Skipper

Hesperia dacotae

Photo of Dakota Skipper
Photo: © Robert P. Dana
Long description for Dakota Skipper photo

This is a photo of a Dakota Skipper, a butterfly sitting on a pink flower. It is tawny orange with a brownish border on the upper side of the wings.

Wingspan:
21 - 29 mm (0.83 - 1.14 inches)

Threatened

Male Dakota skippers are tawny orange with a brownish border on the upper side of the wings and an elongated dark mark on the front wings. The undersides are yellowish orange with paler spots forming a semicircle. Females are similar but have less distinctive buff colouring and faint markings. They occur only in native tallgrass and mixed grass prairie.

Did you know?

  • Only 4 isolated populations are known to occur in Canada.
  • Conversion of native prairie to cultivated land is one of the biggest threats to Dakota skippers. Since European settlement, 99.9% of the native mixed and tall-grass Prairie in Manitoba and 81% of the mixed-grass prairie in Saskatchewan has been lost.
Dakota Skipper map
Dakota Skipper map
Long description for Dakota Skipper map

This is the distribution map of the Dakota Skipper in southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The largest population is east of the southern portion of   Lake Winnipeg, and the other is near Griswold. In Saskatchewan, the Dakota Skipper is found at two sites near Oxbow, and Roche Percee.

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Dusky Dune Moth

Copablepharon longipenne

Photo of Dusky Dune Moth
Photo: © Environment Canada, Medea Curteanu
Long description for Dusky Dune Moth photo

This is a photo of a Dusky Dune moth on a spiky grey plant. The moth has light yellow-brown or yellow-grey forewings crossed by a distinctive line of black dots. The hindwings are dark grey-brown.

Wingspan:
11-20 mm (0.4 - 0.8 inches)

Endangered

The dusky dune moth is a mediumsized, light brown moth with a distinctive line of black dots on the forewing. A pale streak is often present along the edge of the forewing. Males and females are similar in appearance but females are generally larger in size.

Did you know?

  • Dusky dune moths inhabit sparsely vegetated active sand dunes; a rare type of habitat that has been declining in Canada for over a century.
  • Very little is known about dusky dune moth adult and larval host plants.
Dusky Dune Moth map
Dusky Dune Moth map
Long description for Dusky Dune Moth map

This is the distribution map of Dusky Dune Moth in the three prairie provinces. In Alberta it is found in the Pakowki Sand Hills near Manyberries, in several sandhills found between Canadian Forces Base Suffield and Swift Current, Saskatchewan, sandhills near Elbow and Saskatoon, in the Brandon sandhills.

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Gold-edged Gem

Schinia avemensis

Photo of Gold-edged Gem
Photo: © Jason J. Dombroskie
Long description for Gold-edged Gem photo

This is a photo of a Gold-edged Gem (a moth on the left side facing the dark centre of a bright yellow sunflower. The moth has brownish-maroon upper wings marked with two light yellow bands along the trailing edge.

Wingspan:
16 - 20 mm (7/8 of an inch)

Endangered

The gold-edged gem is a small day-flying moth with specialized habitat requirements. The moth inhabits remnant patches of active sand dunes or blowouts where colonies of Prairie sunflowers (its only known larval host plant) exist. Upper wings of the gold-edged gem are brownish-maroon marked with two yellow bands. Its name comes from the distinctive pale yellow band along the margin of its wings.

Did you know?

  • The gold-edged gem can remain in the pupal stage for more than a year, but once they emerge as adults, they live for only a week.
  • The gradual stabilization of active sand dunes by native or introduced vegetation such as sweet clover and spurge threaten this moth's habitat.
Gold-edged Gem map
Gold-edged Gem map
Long description for Gold-edged Gem map

This is the distribution map of the Gold-edged Gem in the southern three prairie provinces. It is known to occur in nine sand hills, including three occurrences in southeastern Alberta, five occurrences in Saskatchewan, and one occurrence in southwestern Manitoba. In Alberta it is found in the Pakowki Sand Hills near Manyberries, in several sandhills found between Canadian Forces Base Suffield and Swift Current, Saskatchewan, sandhills near Elbow and Saskatoon, in the Brandon sandhills.

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Ottoe Skipper

Hesperia ottoe

Photo of Ottoe Skipper
Photo: © Robert Dana
Long description for Ottoe Skipper photo

This is a photo of two Ottoe Skippers (butterflies) perched back to back on two pink flowers. The skippers have hooked antennae, large dark eyes, a short, stout body, and the pale yellowish-orange undersides of the wings  are visible.

Wingspan:
29 - 35 mm (1.1 - 1.4 inches)

Endangered

The ottoe skipper is a rare butterfly found in localized areas of Manitoba's dry mixed-grass and sand-prairie habitats. The male has yellowish-orange wings with a diffused brown border and an elongated mark on the forewing. The female is dull brown with pale buff markings and one or two whitish spots on the forewing. Males and females both have pale yellowish-orange undersides.

Did you know?

  • Ottoe skipper cannot survive in altered or disturbed habitats and much of this species' preferred grassland habitat has been converted to farmland.
  • This species was last seen in Spruce Woods Provincial Park in the late 1980s.
Ottoe Skipper map
Ottoe Skipper map
Long description for Ottoe Skipper map

This is the distribution map of the Ottoe Skipper in south western Manitoba. It is only found in Spruce Woods Provincial Park, Canadian Forces Base Shilo, and adjacent area.

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Poweshiek Skipperling

Oarisma poweshiek

Photo of Poweshiek Skipperling
Photo: © Mike Reese
Long description for Poweshiek Skipperling photo

This is a photo of a Poweshiek Skipperling butterfly perched facing right, on the center of a bright yellow sunflower. It has hooked antennae, a slender body, dark brown upper wings, with orange leading edges and veins of the forewings. Its head is also orange.

Wingspan:
24 - 30 mm (0.95 - 1.2 inches)

Threatened

The Poweshiek skipperling, like all skippers, has a hooked antennae and characteristic skipping flight pattern. This butterfly has an orange head and dark brown upper wings with orange lines along the wing margin. The undersides of wings are dark grey with distinctive silvery-outlined veins. In Canada, they only occur in wet to mesic native tall-grass prairies.

Did you know?

  • In Canada, the Powershiek skipperling is found within a 2300-ha area of Southeast Manitoba.
  • This butterfly was first discovered in Iowa and is named after the county it was found in: Poweshiek County.
Poweshiek Skipperling map
Poweshiek Skipperling map
Long description for Poweshiek Skipperling map

The distribution of the Poweshiek Skipperling is limited to and area around Gardenton in south eastern Manitoba.

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Verna's Flower Moth

Schinia verna

Photo of Verna's Flower Moth
Photo: © Gary Anweiler
Long description for Verna's Flower Moth photo

This is a photo of an adult Verna’s Flower Moth with its wings outstretched, top view. It has a stout body, dorsal surface of the forewing is olive-brown in colour with dull red-brown bands and cream white patches. The forewing margin has white and grey stripes.

Wingspan:
20 mm (0.78 inches)

Threatened

The forewings of the Verna's flower moth are contrastingly marked with olive-brown and maroon on a white background. The hindwings are black and white, giving the moth an overall checkered appearance. The known global range of Verna's flower moth is restricted to the Canadian Prairie grassland and parkland region. It is a day-flying moth, whose flight period is closely synchronized with the blooming of pussytoes, the larval food plant.

Did you know?

  • Only one population of Verna's flower moth has been observed in Canada since 2000, north of Jenner, Alberta. It is unknown if other populations still exist.
  • The larvae of Verna's flower moth are cannibalistic!
Verna's Flower Moth map
Verna's Flower Moth map
Long description for Verna's Flower Moth map

This is the distribution map of Verna’s Flower Moth in the three prairie provinces. It has only seen in five locations; Spruce Woods Provincial Park, Manitoba, Saskatoon, Medicine Hat, North of Jenner, Alberta and northwest of Alliance, Alberta.

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White Flower Moth

Schinia bimatris

Photo of White Flower Moth
Photo: © Vernon Antoine Brou Jr.
Long description for White Flower Moth photo

This is a photo of a White Flower Moth, with wings outstreched,  top view.  It is a plain moth with an orange head and pure white wings.

Wingspan:
31 mm (1.23 inches)

Endangered

The white flower moth is a relatively small moth with an orange head and wings of pure glossy white – it is distinctive from all other species of moths in Canada. Only one population is known to occur in Canada, in the Spruce Woods Provincial Park region of southwest Manitoba.

Did you know?

  • Little is known about this nocturnal moth, but it is thought to live in association with the white evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa).
  • This moth appears to be restricted to active sand dunes, and thus vegetation growth on sand dunes may pose a threat to this species.
White Flower Moth map
White Flower Moth map
Long description for White Flower Moth map

This is the distribution map of the White Flower Moth in south western Manitoba. It is only found in Spruce Woods Provincial Park, Canadian Forces Base Shilo, and adjacent area.

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Yucca Moth, Non-pollinating Yucca Moth & Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth

Tegeticula yuccasella, Tegeticula corruptrix & Prodoxus quinquepunctellus

Photo of Non-pollinating Yucca Moth (photo on the left) and Yucca Moth (photo on the right)
Photo: © Gordon Court, Photo: © Olof Pellmyr
Long description for Yucca Moth, Non-pollinating Yucca Moth & Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth photo

Yucca Moth (photo on the right): This is a photo of a Yucca Moth perched facing foreward, on the centre of a soapweed (yucca) plant. It has a whitish head and darker legs and antennae. The moth is a relatively small, slender-winged and brown.

Non-pollinating Yucca Moth (photo on the left): This is a photo of 5 Non-pollinating Yucca Moths on a soapweed (yucca) plant. They appear as bluish seedlike shapes around the greenish centre of the plant. 

 

Wingspan:
18 - 27.5 mm (0.7 - 1.1 inches)

Endangered

The yucca moth is a small whitish moth that, like the non-pollinating yucca moth and the five-spotted bogus yucca moth, can be found within the flowers of the soapweed (yucca) plant. These three highly specialized moths are dependent on the soapweed plant and are only found in the localized parts of southern Alberta where soapweed occurs. All three moth species are in decline due to grazing by deer and antelope, agriculture, off-road traffic and the horticultural and medicinal collection of soapweed.

Did you know?

  • The yucca moth's mouth is specially evolved to pollinate the soapweed plant whereas the other two moths simply cohabit the host.
  • The survival of two other endangered moth species depends on the pollination of the soapweed.
Map of Yucca Moth, Non-pollinating Yucca Moth and Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth map
Map of Yucca Moth, Non-pollinating Yucca Moth and Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth map
Long description for Map of Yucca Moth, Non-pollinating Yucca Moth and Five-spotted Bogus Yucca Moth map

This is the distribution map of the moth species, in south eastern Alberta. Because of their dependency on soapweed, the distribution is where the naturally occurring populations of soapweed in Alberta. The first is scattered along the slopes of the Lost River and the second is located on the Pinhorn Provincial Grazing Reserve, in the Milk River drainage basin.

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