Long Dash

Polites mystic

This butterfly is fairly easy to identify when it is fresh, with very distinct markings on the hindwing below, but as it wears it becomes a very light color and the markings become barely visible. Therefore, late in their flight period, sightings of very worn skippers with barely visible markings often turn out to be this species.

In 2007, I saw two very worn individuals that contrasted greatly with the very fresh Common Branded Skippers that I was trying to photograph. These individuals were nearly white below, with barely visible lighter markings on the hind wing. Unfortunately for the identification of very worn butterflies, almost all photos online and in books are of fresh, brightly-colored butterflies or skippers. I am sure that I have taken some photos of these worn specimens of this species, but even I seem to have deleted them!

Weekly sightings for Long Dash

Identifying characteristics

Below, the wings are various shades of brown with a very distinct lighter spot band on the hindwing. Above, the male is orange with a long, wide stigma and a dark border on the forewing. The female is similar with less orange and with dark marks similar to, but wider than, the male’s stigma. The hindwing of both sexes is marked similarly above as below.

Similar species

This species is very similar to the Indian Skipper; distinguishing these species when and where they both occur is difficult. The Indian Skipper is lighter in general than the Long Dash, and the spot band on the hindwing of the Indian Skipper does not contrast with the color of the hindwing below as much as that on the Long Dash. Above, the Indian Skipper is much lighter, the male has a much thinner stigma, and the female does not have dark markings across the middle of the forewings. In general, the Indian Skipper flies about two weeks before the Long Dash.

Habitat

Found along wetland edges, streams, grassland areas, and roadsides

Flight

One fight, from mid-June to the first week in August

Abundance

A common skipper throughout Wisconsin. It is not uncommon to see more than twenty individuals in an area during its peak flight, and in 2009 I saw over 225 of these at Buena Vista Marsh.

Late Long Dash Sightings

Date County Reported by
Aug 8, 2014 Douglas Scott and Ann Swengel
Aug 8, 2003 Bayfield Dave Hanson
Aug 11, 2009 Door Bill Benner
Aug 12, 2017 Bayfield Scott and Ann Swengel
Aug 19, 2013 Florence Mike Reese

Locations

Map showing sighting locations for Long Dash
Map key
Long DashClick to enlarge

Northeast of Goodman, Marinette Co., WI. July 5, 2006.

Long DashClick to enlarge

Buena Vista Marsh, Portage Co., WI, June 29, 2005.

Long DashClick to enlarge

East of Mecan Springs SNA, along the Mecan River, Waushara Co., WI, June 16, 2005.

Long DashClick to enlarge

Buena Vista Marsh, Portage Co., WI, June 29, 2005.

Long DashClick to enlarge

Northern Kettle Moranine State Forest, Fond du Lac Co., WI, July 14, 2004.

Long DashClick to enlarge

Buena Vista Marsh, Portage Co., WI, June 29, 2005.