Plants and Animals

Hesperia ottoe Ottoe skipper

Key Characteristics

The Ottoe skipper has a wingspan between 1.14-1.6 inches (2.9-4.1 cm). The male uppersides are orange with brown borders and a black stigma (specialized scent scales on the forewings). Females have uppersides bright brownish orange with several yellowish white spots. The undersurface of the hindwing is yellow-orange; no markings in the male, sometimes with faint markings in the female.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: E - Endangered (legally protected)
Global Rank: G3 - Vulnerable
State Rank: S1 - Critically imperiled


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Allegan 8 2011
Barry 3 1989
Montcalm 4 2003
Newaygo 6 2014
Oceana 2 2014
St. Joseph 1 1981

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.


In Michigan, the Ottoe skipper occurs in remnant, dry sand prairies and open oak barrens where native warm season grasses occur. These areas are usually dominated by grasses such as little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), poverty grass (Danthonia spicata), and fall witchgrass (Leptoloma cognatum). Forbs commonly found in Ottoe habitat include blazing star (Liatris aspera), prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa), common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), butterflyweed (Asclpeias tuberosa) various asters (Aster spp.), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta), lupine (Lupinus perrennis) and dotted monarda (Monarda punctata).

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.

Management Recommendations

Habitat protection and enhancement are essential to the conservation and long-term survival of the ottoe skipper in Michigan. Habitat destruction from off-road vehicles, agricultural and silvicultural practices, and development continues to threaten this species. Immediate action should be taken to protect existing populations from further habitat degradation and loss. Fire suppression has encouraged the closing of formerly open-canopied oak and oak-pine barrens and reduced the size and quality of adjoining sand prairies. Managing the prairie and barrens communities, especially through carefully controlled fires.

Active Period

Flight from third week of June to third week of August

Survey Methods

The best way to survey for this species is by meandering thorough potential habitat while checking nectar sources or perches such as tall forbs and grasses. Adults are quite wary, flying swiftly and low to the ground when disturbed. Because there are many similar-looking skipper species, it is recommended that voucher specimens are collected and verified by a species expert to confirm species identity.

Meander search in potential habitat/aerial net

Survey Period: From third week of June to third week of August

Time of Day: Daytime
Cloud Cover: Clear


Survey References

  • Martin, J.E.H. 1977. The Insects and Arachnids of Canada (Part 1): Collecting, preparing, and preserving insects, mites, and spiders. Publication 1643. Biosystematics Research Institute, Ottawa.

Technical References

  • Cuthrell, D.L. 2001. Special Animal Abstract for Hesperia ottoe (Ottoe skipper). Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI 3pp.
  • Evers, D.C. 1994. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of Michigan. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 412pp.
  • Nielsen, M.C. 1999. Michigan butterflies and skippers: A field guide and reference. Michigan State University Extension Bulletin E-2675, East Lansing. 248pp.

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