Least Skipper

Ancyloxypha numitor

The Least Skipper is aptly named, as it is the smallest skipper in the state. This skipper is often seen flying very low through tall grasses adjacent to ponds, small lakes, rivers, or streams. It rarely gets higher than a couple feet above the ground as it slowly and somewhat choppily moves through vegetation. It does nectar on a variety of species, but because of its small size, it is more likely to be seen nectaring on much smaller flowers than the larger skippers.

Weekly sightings for Least Skipper

Identifying characteristics

A small orange and black skipper. Below, this skipper is a solid orange with somewhat lightened veins. Above, the Least Skipper is orange with a variable amount of black, sometimes even nearly all black, and without any spots.

Similar species

Once you are familiar with this species it is somewhat easily identified based upon size and habitat alone. I have seen people misidentify a photo of a European Skipper as this species, because it also is an orange and black skipper, which often can be seen in large numbers, and flies low to the ground. The Least Skipper has a much wider black margin on the wings above, and below, this skipper is very orange with lightened veins, while the European Skipper has somewhat lightened wings without prominent veins.

Habitat

Edges of streams, ponds, and lakes. This species is rarely found far from water, even when nectaring.

Flight

There are at least two generations per year, and possibly three, especially in the southern counties.

Abundance

The Least Skipper may become fairly abundant; I once counted over 300 while walking less than a half mile on dikes at Poygan Marsh in Waushara County.

Late Least Skipper Sightings

Date County Reported by
Sep 26, 2008 Dane Ann Thering
Sep 26, 2014 Adams Scott and Ann Swengel
Sep 28, 2014 Columbia Scott and Ann Swengel
Oct 1, 2011 Iowa Mike Reese
Oct 3, 2011 Dane Sylvia Edlebeck

Locations

Map showing sighting locations for Least Skipper
Map key
Least SkipperClick to enlarge

Poygan Marsh, Waushara Co., WI, June 23, 2002.

Least SkipperClick to enlarge

End of Lock Rd., 4 miles NE of Princeton, Green Lake Co., WI, June 11, 2005.

Least SkipperClick to enlarge

Soules Creek Area, 1 mile NE of Wautoma, Waushara Co., WI, June 18, 2002.

Least SkipperClick to enlarge

Poygan Marsh, Waushara Co., WI, June 23, 2002.