Dreamy Duskywing, Erynnis icelus

Dreamy Duskywing

Erynnis icelus

A small black skipper, usually described as without white apical spots in the forewing above, but that sometimes does have a single white spot, and which holds it wings spread straight out while at rest. Above, there is a postmedian band of dark markings. Below this species has two rows of light spots on both wings. This species is best described as it compares to the Sleepy Duskywing (see the discussion below).

Dreamy Duskywings host plants are mainly willows and poplar in Wisconsin, and as such are often found in moister habitats than the Sleepy Duskywing. But they can be found, especially when they are nectaring, in many of the same drier habitats where Sleepy Duskywings are found. In several other states, they may also use oaks as a host plants, so more study is needed to see if they may use oak species in Wisconsin.

Overwintering Strategy:   Mid-stage Caterpillars

One brood. Usually flies slightly after the Sleepy Duskywing, but both species fly primarily during May and June. Both species have been observed in April and in July in Michigan.

Caterpillar Host Plants:
Willows, Poplars

Nine species of Duskywings have been found in Wisconsin. From a distance of 20 yards, without binoculars, they are all essentially indistinguishable little black skippers. On closer inspection, the Dreamy and Sleepy can easily be distinguished from the others by a lack of white spots in the forewing. Technically this is incorrect, as the Dreamy Duskywing sometimes has a single white spot, which is lacking in the Sleepy Duskywing, although this doesn’t mean that these species are then easily distinguishable from each other.

Overwintering Strategy

Two-way migration: Adult migrates from Wisconsin to Central Mexico
Small migration: Adult migrates from Wisconsin to southern US
Immigrant: Adult migrates into Wisconsin from warmer areas and don't fly south in winter
Adult Butterfly: Hibernates overwinter as an adult butterfly
Eggs: Eggs laid on stems, twigs or foot plants overwinter in diapause
Caterpillar: Caterpillars make nests on the base of plants and hibernate until spring
Chrysalis: Caterpillars shed their last skin, form a chrysalis and enter diapause.

For more information, read: Where Do Butterflies Go In Winter?

Further Information:   

 Design A Butterfly Garden
 Take The Butterfly Quiz
 Monarch Life Cycle
 Butterflies and Moths of North America
 Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Assn (NABA)
 The Butterfly Site

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