E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Erynnis icelus Schrank, 1801
Dreamy Dusky Wing; Duskywings
Family: Hesperiidae (Skippers)
Species account authors: Crispin Guppy and Jon Shepard.
Extracted from Butterflies of British Columbia
The Families of Lepidoptera of BC
Introduction to the Butterflies of BC

© Ian Gardiner  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #13465)

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Distribution of Erynnis icelus in British Columbia.
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Species Information

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Illustration 2

Illustration Source: Butterflies of British Columbia by Crispin Guppy and Jon Shepard © Royal BC Museum


E. icelus is easily distinguished from other Erynnis in BC by the lack of a submarginal group of clear white spots on the forewing. The male valve has a short ventral process and a small, rounded middle lobe. Although the wings are variable in pattern, there is no clear way to distinguish the sexes except that the male has a costal fold. The length of the forewing is 1-4-1.6 cm.

Immature Stages

Scudder (1889b) described the life cycle. The egg is very pale green. The larval head is uniform light red brown; the ocelli are red brown on a black stripe. The first thoracic segment is yellow and the rest of the body is grey-green, caused by fine whitish granulations on a pale green surface. The larva is marked by a dark median stripe and a pale lateral stripe.


None. The type locality of the species is New England.

Genus Description

The name Erynnis is derived from the Erinnyes or Furies who harried wrongdoers (Emmet 1991). Schrank used the generic name for all skippers, and used it to describe the erratic flight characteristic of skippers, as though they were avoiding the Furies. The Erinnyes sprang from the dark, thus the common name "duskywings" in reference to the dark wings. Scudder (1889b) was the first to use the name "duskywings" for the genus.

This and the remaining genera of the Pyrginae have rounded forewing tips, short discal cells, inconspicuous antennal tips, and porrect palpi. The genus Erynnis is distinguished by the mottled black background of the wings, hence the common name "duskywings". This Holarctic genus contains 17 Nearctic and 5 Palearctic species. Five species are found in BC. Closely related genera are all Neotropical. The larvae of this genus have been recorded as feeding on Quercus, Salix, Populus, Ceanothus, and Fabaceae. The various BC species cover this wide range of foodplant preferences, but individual species are restricted to one or a few closely related foodplants. Burns (1964) wrote the definitive work on the genus. Reference to Lindsey et al. (1931) is necessary for drawings of male genitalia, the only reliable structures for distinguishing most species. The shape of the left valve is the critical characteristic.


Adults fly from early May to late June, with peak flight usually occurring in early June, depending on spring weather. Eggs are laid singly on the upper surface of leaves of the foodplant, hatch within the week, and develop into mature larvae by late July. Mature larvae overwinter and pupate the following spring (Scudder 1889b). In BC there is a single brood per year. Cockle (Harvey 1908) recorded Salix as the foodplant at Kaslo. The Forest Insect Survey has two additional records of larvae collected from Salix. Elsewhere Salix and Populus have often been recorded as foodplants (Burns 1964).


The Dreamy Duskywing is found across the southern fourth of BC and throughout the rest of BC east of the Coast Ranges. The species should be looked for near willows and aspens in meadows and along streams.



Across CAN from Vancouver Island to NS and south in the Sierras, the Rockies, and the Appalachians. In the PNW it is almost universally distributed below 1,000 m except in dry, sage- or grass- dominated areas.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS5YellowNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Range and Status Information Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2019. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2020-07-05 5:18:28 PM]
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