(Erynnis spp.)

duskywing (Erynnis sp.)
Photo by Crystal Boyd

Erynnis is a common and widespread genus of medium-sized, spread-wing skipper butterflies known as duskywings. It occurs in Europe, Asia, North America, and Central America, but the most species by far occur in North America. It is common in Minnesota.

There are 24 Erynnis species and 16 subspecies worldwide, 17 species in North America north of Mexico, and at least 8 species in Minnesota.


In Minnesota adults are active from April through August. They are found in a variety of disturbed and natural habitats. They feed on flower nectar. They rest with their wings spread open.

Eggs are laid on host plants. Each species is associated with one or more genera of trees, shrubs, or legumes. Caterpillars make a nest of a leaf or several leaves rolled up and tied together with silk. They feed on leaves at night and spend the day in the nest. They also pupate and overwinter in the nest.


Adults have a 1 to 1¾ (25 to 45 mm) wingspan.

The antennae are short. They have a black swelling (club) at the tip, and a pale, thin, hooked extension (apiculus) at the end of the club.

The forewings are dark brown. On most species they are marked with a series of white spots.

Dustywings are very similar in appearance, and many are very difficult to identify in the field, or even from photographs. They have been divided into groups or species complexes of very similar species. The eight Minnesota species are divided as follows:

  1. The juvenalis group, including E. horatius and E. juvenalis, are large and have large, well defined, pale spots on the forewing.
  2. The persius group, including E. baptisiae, E. lucilius, and E. persius, are medium-sized and have less extensive pale spots.
  3. The icelus group, including E. brizo and E. icelus, usually have no pale spots on the forewing, though there are sometimes small white spots at the wingtip.
  4. The zarucco group includes E. martialis.

Distribution Map


24, 27, 29, 30, 71, 75, 82, 83.



Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  


Papilionoidea (butterflies)  


Hesperiidae (skippers)  


Pyrginae (spread-wing skippers)  


Erynnini (duskywings and allies)  

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.


Subordinate Taxa


Afranius duskywing (Erynnis afranius)

columbine duskywing (Erynnis lucilius)

dingy skipper (Erynnis tages)

dreamy duskywing (Erynnis icelus)

duskywing (Erynnis pathan)

duskywing (Erynnis popoviana)

frosted duskywing (Erynnis pelias)

funereal duskywing (Erynnis funeralis)

Horace’s duskywing (Erynnis horatius)

inky skipper (Erynnis marloyi)

Juvenal’s duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis)

meridian duskywing (Erynnis meridianus)

Mexican dustywing (Erynnis mercurius)

mottled duskywing (Erynnis martialis)

mountainous duskywing (Erynnis montanus)

mournful duskywing (Erynnis tristis)

Pacuvius duskywing (Erynnis pacuvius)

Persius duskywing (Erynnis persius)

Propertius duskywing (Erynnis propertius)

Rocky Mountain duskywing (Erynnis telemachus)

Scudder’s duskywing (Erynnis scudderi)

sleepy duskywing (Erynnis brizo)

wild indigo duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae)

zarucco duskywing (Erynnis zarucco)










Common Names
















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






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Crystal Boyd

    duskywing (Erynnis sp.)      
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  Crystal Boyd
6/10 and 6/11/2013

Location: Uncas Dunes SNA

duskywing (Erynnis sp.)

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Created: 10/23/2023

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