Oarisma poweshiek
Poweshiek skipperling
Image of Oarisma poweshiek

Photo by David L. Cuthrell 

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Key Characteristics

Upper surfaces are dark brown with an orange costal area on the forewing. The undersurface of the hindwing has veins covered with white scales; basal area veins are dark brown without white scales. The caterpillar is pale green with a dark green dorsal band outlined by cream lines.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • US Status: LE
  • State Rank: S1
  • Global Rank: G1


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Distribution map for Oarisma poweshiek

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Sedgy meadows, cinquefoil seeps and open fens. High quality tall grass prairie.

Specific Habitat Needs

Host plant needed in Prairie fen

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.


The primary threat to the continued survival of this species is habitat loss and modification. Many of the wetland complexes occupied currently have been altered or drained for agriculture or development. Wetland alteration also can lead to invasion by exotic plant species such as glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), and the common reed (Phragmites australis). In addition, landscape-scale processes that may be important for maintaining suitable poweshiek habitat and/or creating new habitat, such as wildfires, fluctuations in hydrologic regimes, and flooding from beaver (Castor canadensis) activity, have been virtually eliminated or altered throughout the species' range. The widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides could be a cause for the decline in this species as most sites are adjacent to, or downslope from, row crop agriculture.

Active Period

Flight from fourth week of June to third week of July

Survey Methods

The Poweshiek skipperling has one generation per year. This species overwinters as a half grown larvae. Larvae are present from mid-July to September. In Michigan, adults of this species have been observed flying typically from late June to mid-July although adults have been seen as early as June 9. The best way to survey for this species is to conduct visual surveys while meandering through habitat looking for flowers and nectaring adult butterflies. Adults nectar on shrubby cinquefoil, white clover, lobelia, and black-eyed Susan. A pair of close focusing binoculars may be used to help locate individuals. Most butterfly surveys should be conducted on warm, sunny days with little to no wind.

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/explorer [Accessed Sep 23, 2018]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract


Survey References

Technical References

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