Scientific Name: Hesperia ottoe
Taxonomy Group: Arthropods
COSEWIC Range: Manitoba
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2015
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: The species is a short grass and sand prairie specialist that occurs in small isolated populations within the fragmented and declining prairie habitats of southwestern Manitoba. Historically, this species has been found at only three sites in Canada. Any remaining populations in its historical range must be restricted to a very small area in southwestern Manitoba. Recent search effort has not recorded the species, but there is unsurveyed habitat within Canadian Forces Base Shilo that is not possible to survey. Threats include over-grazing, invasive plants that out-compete host plants, and loss of remnant habitats to agriculture.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in May 2005. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2015.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2006-08-15
Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.
The Ottoe Skipper is a small butterfly with a wingspan of 29 to 35 mm. Like all skippers, it differs from other butterflies by having a hook on the end of its clubbed antennae. The coloration of males and females differs. The upper side of the wings of adult males is yellowish orange with a diffuse brownish border on the forewing and a dark elongated mark, called a stigma. The upper side of the wings of adult females is dull brown with pale buff markings. There are usually one or two round translucent whitish spots on the forewing among the pale buff band of markings, but no stigma. The underside of the wings is uniformly pale orange, as in males. The whitish eggs are hemispherical in shape and about 1.3 mm in diameter. The caterpillars are greenish brown with a dark brown head and a black segment behind the head. Caterpillars attain a length of 20 to 25 mm when fully grown.
Distribution and Population
The Ottoe Skipper occurs in very isolated populations from southern Manitoba south to Michigan and Texas and west to Colorado. In Canada, the Ottoe Skipper has been recorded from three localities in southern Manitoba. The Ottoe Skipper was first recorded in 1921 from the Aweme area, about 10 km north of Wawanesa. There is also a record from Rounthwaite from the late 1920s and from Spruce Woods Provincial Park from the late 1980s. The species has not been found at two of these locations since the 1920s. It was last recorded in Canada in 1986 from Spruce Woods Provincial Park and was not found in surveys conducted in 2002 and 2003. It is possible that the Ottoe Skipper no longer occurs in Canada. If a population is still extant in Canada, a continuing decline is expected due to habitat loss and degradation.
The Ottoe Skipper is found only in native prairie habitats. It prefers sand prairies and mixed-grass prairies composed primarily of grasses of medium height, such as bluestem. It is not found in tall-grass prairies. In Spruce Woods Provincial Park, where this species was last recorded, the terrain is generally dry and hilly, and the prairies often occur on the hills (formerly sand dunes). Bunch grasses, such as little bluestem, are common on the higher ground. Little bluestem may be the host plant preferred by Ottoe Skipper caterpillars in Canada, as it is in Minnesota. Since the 1950s, over 99% of native prairie habitat has been converted to agricultural uses or has been seriously degraded by overgrazing. In Manitoba, the remaining prairies have been invaded by exotic plants.
Like all butterflies, the Ottoe Skipper undergoes complete metamorphosis with egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), and adult stages. It completes its life cycle in one year. Each stage has specific resource requirements. Mating occurs during the short adult flight period, usually from mid- or late June to mid-August. Individual adults may live as long as three weeks. Adult females usually mate within one or two days after emerging from the chrysalis. Eggs are usually laid singly on the undersides of leaves of the larval host plants or on the flower heads of purple coneflowers, from which the adults also draw nectar. Regular access to nectar is critical to the survival of the adults. Although the Ottoe Skipper feeds on several sources of nectar, it has preferred species of flowers. The preferred nectar flowers in Canada are unknown. The caterpillars feed on a variety of grasses, all of which are characteristic of their prairie habitat. The caterpillars go through six or seven stages before forming a chrysalis. In about late September, the caterpillars enter an obligatory diapause (a form of hibernation). They pass the winter in this stage, resume feeding in spring, complete development during June or July, and form a chrysalis. Adults emerge two and a half weeks later.
Habitat loss and degradation are the main threat to the Ottoe Skipper. Since the 1850s, over 99% of native prairies, the preferred habitat of this species, has been converted to agricultural row crops or hay fields or has been degraded by overgrazing. Key adult and larval food resources must be present in the habitat to ensure the long-term survival of this insect, and these plants rarely occur in agricultural areas. In addition, trampling by cattle may kill caterpillars. In Manitoba, habitat loss and degradation caused by the invasion of exotic plant species and chemical control of these species are the main threats to the Ottoe Skipper. Leafy spurge is invading Spruce Woods Provincial Park, the last site in Canada where the Ottoe Skipper may be extant. The Ottoe Skipper is also susceptible to disturbances, such as wildfires, inappropriate prescribed burning, and quarrying, which alter the floral and structural components of its preferred habitat.
The Ottoe Skipper is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
The Ottoe Skipper is protected under the Manitoba Endangered Species Act. Under this act, it is unlawful to kill, injure, possess, disturb, or interfere with the species or to disturb or destroy its habitat or any natural resources on which it depends without a permit.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
Status of Recovery Planning
Recovery Strategies :
Name Recovery Strategy for the Ottoe Skipper (Hesperia ottoe) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry
Recovery Progress and Activities
Summary of Progress to Date A recovery strategy is currently being developed for the Ottoe Skipper. There is no known change in the population status or distribution of this species. The last sighting of this species was in Spruce Woods Provincial Park in the late 1980s. Surveys in 2002-2003 did not detect this species at its historical locations and surveys for a similar species, the Dakota Skipper, in 2005 and 2006 did not detect any Ottoe Skippers. Summary of Research and Monitoring Activities Historical locations should be resurveyed to confirm presence and distribution of this species.
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
12 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (2 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (2 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Strategies (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (3 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (2 record(s) found.)
- Permits and Related Agreements (1 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
Response Statement - Ottoe Skipper (2015-12-23)The species is a short grass and sand prairie specialist that occurs in small isolated populations within the fragmented and declining prairie habitats of southwestern Manitoba. Historically, this species has been found at only three sites in Canada. Any remaining populations in its historical range must be restricted to a very small area in southwestern Manitoba. Recent search effort has not recorded the species, but there is unsurveyed habitat within Canadian Forces Base Shilo that is not possible to survey. Threats include over-grazing, invasive plants that out-compete host plants, and loss of remnant habitats to agriculture.
Response Statements - Ottoe Skipper (2005-11-15)This species has been found at very few locations in the Canadian prairies where it is associated with fragmented and declining mixed-grass prairie vegetation. It has recently been found at only one location.
COSEWIC Annual Reports
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005 (2005-08-12)2005 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
COSEWIC Annual Report - 2014-2015 (2015-11-20)Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to "assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species". COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2014 to September, 2015) from November 23 to November 28, 2014 and from April 27 to May 1, 2015. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2014-2015 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 1 Endangered: 21 Threatened: 11 Special Concern: 21 Data Deficient: 1 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 56 Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 24 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same risk status as the previous assessment.