Dun skipper

(Euphyes vestris)

Conservation Status
Dun skipper
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure


not listed


Dun skipper is a small, dark, nondescript grass skipper. It has a wingspan of 1 to 1.

The male is dark blackish-brown all over. There is a black stigma on the forewing that appears as a dark diagonal band but no other markings.

The female has small two pale spots on the upper side of the forewing that are even smaller on the underside. The underside of the hindwing may also have a faint spot band.

The antennae are short and faintly striped. Each antenna has a black swelling (club) at the tip, and a pale, thin, hooked extension (apiculus) at the end of the club.

The caterpillar is pale green, slender, and up to 1 long. The head is burnt cienna with a central black spot, a horseshoe-shaped white mark partially surrounding the black spot, and a pair of white lines running from the back of the head to the eyes. The thorax and abdomen are pale green with a slightly darker middorsal line and sometimes darker middorsal and subdorsal pinstrip lines. The breathing pore (spiracle) on the eighth abdominal segment is conspicuously enlarged. On the rear (posterior) half of abdominal segments 1 through 8 there are seven shallow ring-like creases (annulations). The preceding description could easily be made for all other Euphyes caterpillars. Identification is best made by rearing them into adults.

Mature caterpillars are seen from late summer to late fall and early spring.




Wingspan: 1 to 1


Similar Species


Northern broken-dash, Dun skipper, and little glassywing are called “the three witches” because their dark wings make it difficult to tell “which one is which.”


Moist areas near deciduous woods




One generation: Late June to late August.






Life Cycle




Larva Hosts


Sedges and possibly some grasses


Adult Food


Nectar of white, pink, and purple flowers


Distribution Map



7, 21, 27, 29, 30, 71.




Common to abundant, and widespread



Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  


Papilionoidea (butterflies)  


Hesperiidae (skippers)  


Hesperiinae (grass skippers)  





Subordinate Taxa


Dun skipper (Euphyes vestris harbisoni)

Dun skipper (Euphyes vestris kiowah)

Dun skipper (Euphyes vestris metacomet)

Dun skipper (Euphyes vestris vestris)


Skippers have traditionally been placed in their own superfamily Hesperioidea because of their morphological similarity. Recent phylogenetic analysis (Kawahara and Breinholt [2014]) suggests that they share the same common ancestor as other butterfly families, and thus belong in the superfamily, Papilionoidea.






Common Names


Dun skipper









A thin hooked or pointed extension at the ends of each antennae just beyond the club of all skippers except skipperlings (subfamily Heteropterinae).



A small opening on the surface of an insect through which the insect breathes.



In plants, the portion of the female part of the flower that is receptive to pollen. In Lepidoptera, an area of specialized scent scales on the forewing of some skippers, hairstreaks, and moths. In other insects, a thickened, dark, or opaque cell on the leading edge of the wing.






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Other Videos
  Prairie Life: Dun Skipper
Carl Barrentine

Published on Aug 2, 2015

This short film introduces the Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris), a common, small brown Hesperiid butterfly. Filmed at the Rydell NWR, Erskine, Minnesota (29 July 2015).

  Finding Dun Skipper Pupal Nests
Todd Stout

Published on Jun 6, 2010

Just as sedge-feeding skippers of the genus Euphyes construct unique nests; they also pupate in these nests and seal off the entrance with a silken plug as demonstrated with the dun skipper (Euphyes vestris metacomet) in this video.




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