Plants and Animals

Atrytonopsis hianna Dusted skipper

species photo
Brian Piccolo
species photo
David Cuthrell
species photo
David Cuthrell
species photo
David Cuthrell

Key Characteristics

Large dark grass-skipper with much frosting of the marginal wing areas below. When present, the white spot at the base of the hindwing is diagnostic. Adults have a 'masked' appearance due to their dark eyes being bordered by the white palps below and a white eye stripe above. The caterpillar is pink-lavender dorsally and pale gray on the sides and is covered with long yellow-white hairs. The head is dark reddish purple.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G4G5 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from apparently secure to secure
State Rank: S3 - Vulnerable


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Alcona 3 2006
Cheboygan 2 2006
Crawford 14 2021
Grand Traverse 2 2009
Iosco 3 2011
Kalkaska 2 2021
Lake 2 1991
Mason 1 1954
Mecosta 1 1988
Missaukee 1 2021
Monroe 2 1988
Montcalm 1 1988
Montmorency 2 2009
Muskegon 6 2004
Newaygo 6 2004
Oceana 3 2020
Oscoda 14 2018
Otsego 5 2021

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.


Dry open fields. Eggs are laid on bluestem grasses (Andropogon sp.) (Nielsen 1999), and adults feed on these grasses. Oak-pine barrens, prairies, rights-of-way in sandy areas and roadsides (Nielsen 1999). Adults nectar on blackberry (Rubus sp.), cinquefoil (Potentilla sp.), lupine (Lupinus sp.), puccoon (Lithospermum sp.), vetch (Vicia sp.) and yarrow (Achillea sp.) (Nielsen 1999).

Specific Habitat Needs

Host plant needed in: Dry sand prairieDry-mesic prairieMesic prairieMesic sand prairieOak-pine barrensPine barrens.

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

Threats to this species include habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation due to conversion to agricultural lands; industrial, residential and/or recreational development; use of pesticides and herbicides; incompatible natural resource management; altered fire regime; military use and non-consumptive recreation (e.g., ORV use destroying habitat). The sites at which this species has been documented should be protected and maintained. Maintenance and long-term preservation of the habitats with which this species is associated depends on the promotion of fire (or an equivalent anthropogenic disturbance) as the prime ecological process driving the persistence and establishment of these natural communities. Prescribed burning can be used as a management tool to try to re-establish or replicate natural fire regimes of these systems. In areas where this species or other rare invertebrates occur or are of management concern, burning strategies should allow for ample refugia (e.g., only burning part of the available habitat at a time, burn frequency and intensity, type of fire, etc.) to minimize incidental take or other potential adverse impacts and facilitate effective post-burn survival and/or. Prior to burning, the locations and extent of habitat use of populations of this species and other rare invertebrates at the site should be determined. Burn management units should be established with special attention to microgeographic variation in the distribution of rare species and their host plants. The reintroduction of native nectar sources should be considered in areas where needed. The impacts of prescribed burning and other management activities on this species and other fire-sensitive and rare invertebrates in these habitats should be carefully monitored and studied as part of the management program, and adaptive management should be applied with new information. Selective harvesting, mowing, brush cutting and/or other mechanical manipulations may be used in conjunction with, or in place of, prescribed burning as management tools for maintaining the habitats used by this species.

Active Period

Flight from fourth week of May to fourth week of June

Survey Methods

The best way to survey for this species is by conducting visual meander surveys which consists of checking for this species near larval food plants, on adult nectar sources, and in mud puddles.

Visual meander surveys

Survey Period: From fourth week of May to fourth week of June

Time of Day: Daytime


Survey References

  • Klots, A.B. 1951. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 349pp.

Technical References

  • Chapman, K.A., M.A. White, M.R. Huffman, and D. Faber-Langendoen. 1995. Ecology and stewardship guidelines for oak-barrens landscapes in the upper Midwest. Pp. 1-29 in F. Stearns and K. Holland, eds. Proc.of the Midwest Oak Savanna Conference, 1993. U.S. EPA, Internet Pubs. Available:
  • Cohen, J.G. 2001. Natural community abstract for oak barrens. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 8 pp.
  • Evers, D.C. 1994. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of Michigan. The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor. 412pp.
  • Glassberg, J. 1999. Butterflies through Binoculars: The East. Oxford University Press, New York. 242pp.
  • King, R. 2000. Effects of single burn events on degraded oak savanna. Ecological Restoration 18 (4 Winter):228-233.
  • Klots, A.B. 1951. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 349pp.
  • Kost, M.K. 2004. Natural community abstract for mesic prairie. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI. 10 pp.
  • Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 1995. Forest stewardship training materials for oak-pine barrens ecosystem. Unpublished manuscript. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing, MI.
  • Nielsen, M.C. 1999. Michigan butterflies and skippers: A field guide and reference. Michigan State University Extension Bulletin E-2675, East Lansing. 248pp.
  • Opler, P.A. 1981. Management of prairie habitats for insect conservation. Natural Areas J. 1(4):3-6.
  • Panzer, R. 1988. Managing prairie remnants for insect conservation. Natural Areas J. 8(2):83-90.
  • Schweitzer, D.F. 1989. A review of Category 2 insects in U.S.F.W.S. Regions 3, 4, and 5. U.S. Fish and Wildl. Serv., Unpubl. Rept.
  • Stehr, F. W. 1997. Michigan Lepidoptera Survey Sites and Seasonal Occurrence of Michigan's Listed Species Annual Report 1997. 30 pp.+ MI Lepidoptera Survey Data Collection Form

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