Long-tailed Skipper

Urbanus proteus

Summary 5

The Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus (Linnaeus)) is a spread-winged skipper butterfly in the family Hesperiidae, subfamily Pyrginae. The Brown Tailed Skipper (Urbanus dorantes (Stoll)) is similar, but lacks the bluish-green scales of the body and base of the forewings. The Brown Tailed Skipper occurs in southern Florida and migrates northward to northern Florida and west to eastern Texas and can get as far north as Kansas and Missouri.

Description 6

Tails are long. Upper side is dark blackish brown; body and wing bases are iridescent blue-green. Males have a costal fold enclosing scent scales on the leading edge of the forewing. Dark row on underside of hind wing is a complete band.
Wing Span: 1 3/4 - 2 5/16 inches (4.5 - 6 cm). (http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Urbanus-proteus)

Larva Description 6

Initially the larva is yellowish with a brownish-black head and prothoracic shield. The head is quite large relative to the body, and remains this way throughout development. With the molt to the second instar the dorsal surface of the insect becomes marked with numerous small, black spots. Beginning with the third instar, lateral yellow lines become quite distinct. The last two instars are similar to the preceding: brownish-black head, black prothoracic shield, yellowish body sprinkled with black spots but lighter below, and yellow lateral lines. Also evident are orange spots on the head near the base of the mandibles, and red on the ventral portion of the thoracic segment. The body tapers sharply toward both the anterior and posterior ends. (http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/veg/bean/bean_leafroller.htm)

Larval Host Plants 7

Larvae are found on Leguminosae and Fabacceae (Neck 1996). Some examples of common larval plants are Pisum, Desmodium, Bauhinia, cultivated beans, and any other viney plants (Klots 1951).

Since this species lays its eggs under bean plants, it can have a devastating effect on bean crop yield (Scott 1986). Although it takes many larvae to make an impact on the yield, they are still considered pests of bean plants. In terms of biological control, these larvae are found to be preyed on by certain species of wasps and stink bugs. The beanleaf roller larvae can also be infected with a virus that can kill up to 50% of the population. Common insecticides are also effective on killing the larvae (Capinera 2001).

GTM Occurrence 6

The Long-tailed Skipper is considered a common and the fourth most abundant species at the GTM. Most observations were in the open habitat along Transect A. This species has been sighted in all of the forest transects with the Marsh Pond Overlook (Transect B) having the most sightings and the Glasswort Loop (Transect C) and the Red Bay Walk (Transect D) having about equal in sightings. This species occurs in May and July to December with most specimens being sighted in September and October. These large numbers of the Long-tailed Skipper in the fall are individuals migrating to the south-southeast. There have been 601 specimens observed as of December 28, 2015.

Distribution 8

The geographic range of Urbanus proteus is from Argentina in South America, throughout Central America and the West Indies, up to the southern parts of North America (Carter 1992). These butterflies are abundant and year round residents of southern Texas and Florida, but during the summer months they can be found as far as Illinois and New York. However, they do not survive long in these northen areas because of the colder temperatures (Tveten and Tveten 1996).

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

Habitat 9

The habitats of these butterflies include brushy fields, woodland edges, coastal dunes, and even suburban gardens (Tveten and Tveten 1996). They are not found in high elevations or altitudes because of the cool temperatures (Forestieno and Sbordoni 1998).

Range elevation: 0 (low) m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest

Other Habitat Features: suburban

Pest Status 10

Since this species lays its eggs under bean plants, it can have a devastating effect on bean crop yield (Scott 1986). Although it takes many larvae to make an impact on the yield, they are still considered pests of bean plants. In terms of biological control, these larvae are found to be preyed on by certain species of wasps and stink bugs. The beanleaf roller larvae can also be infected with a virus that can kill up to 50% of the population. Common insecticides are also effective on killing the larvae (Capinera 2001).

Negative Impacts: crop pest

Nature serve conservation status 11

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Lynette Schimming, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://www.flickr.com/photos/25980517@N03/4443832462
  2. (c) Vicki DeLoach, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND), https://www.flickr.com/photos/vickisnature/2746374023/
  3. (c) Ken-ichi Ueda, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), https://www.flickr.com/photos/ken-ichi/22599630414/
  4. (c) gtmresearchreserve, all rights reserved, uploaded by GTMResearchReserve, http://www.inaturalist.org/photos/2961155
  5. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urbanus_proteus
  6. (c) GTMResearchReserve, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)
  7. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/31428865
  8. (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/31428859
  9. (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/31428860
  10. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/31428869
  11. (c) NatureServe, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://eol.org/data_objects/28821077

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