Wild Indigo Duskywing – Erynnis baptisiae

Wild Indigo Duskywing – Erynnis baptisiae
Family: Hesperiidae – Skippers
/ Subfamily: Hesperiinae – Grass skippers
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Live adult duskywing skippers photographed at DuPage County, Illinois. Size: 30-35mm wingspan
Wild Indigo Duskywing skipper

Identification: Upper side of forewing is dark on the basal half and lighter on the outer half, with a distinct orange-brown patch at the end of the cell. Male has a costal fold containing yellow scent scales; female has a patch of scent scales on the 7th abdominal segment.

Life history: Males perch in open areas on low shrubs to wait for females. Eggs are deposited singly on the host plant. Fully-grown caterpillars from the second brood hibernate.

Flight: Two broods from late April to early June and from July to August.

Wing span: 1 3/8 – 1 5/8 inches (3/5 – 4.1 cm).
Caterpillar hosts: Usually wild indigo (Baptisia tinctoria), but also others including wild blue indigo (B. australis), lupine (Lupinus perennis), false lupine (Thermopsis villosa), and crown vetch (Coronilla varia).

Wild Indigo Duskywing skippers
Wild Indigo Duskywing skippers taking water from moist soil. Female on left, male on right.

Range: Southern New England and southern Ontario west to central Nebraska; south to Georgia, the Gulf Coast, and south-central Texas. The Wild Indigo duskywing is rapidly expanding its range and abundance by colonizing plantings of crown vetch along roadways and railroad beds. Comments: The Columbine, Wild Indigo, and Persius dusky wings belong to the "Persius complex," a confusing group of very similar butterflies.

NatureServe Global Status: G5 – Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.  [1]

Adult food: Nectar from flowers of blackberry, white sweet clover, dogbane, sunflower, crimson clover, and probably others.  Adults take water from puddles and saturated soil. Habitat: Open woods and barrens for native hosts. Highways, railroad beds, and upland fields for the introduced crown vetch.  These are extremely active and erratic flyers, especially on hot, sunny days. Fortunately, they sit still for extended periods – you can get close if you move slowly and don't blot out large portions of sky.


  1. USGS, National Biological Information Infrastructure, Montana State University Big Sky Institute, Butterflies and Moths of North America, Wild Indigo Duskywing Erynnis baptisiae

Order Lepidoptera, which contains both butterflies and moths, includes at least 125,000 known species including 12,000 in North America. Butterflies are revered for their brightly colored wings and pleasing association with fair weather and flowers.
Learn to identify many of the American Midwest's common species through descriptions and large diagnostic photos of live, wild specimens.
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