Species Profile

Eastern Persius Duskywing

Scientific Name: Erynnis persius persius
Taxonomy Group: Arthropods
Range: Ontario
Last COSEWIC Assessment: April 2016
Last COSEWIC Designation: Endangered
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered

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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Eastern Persius Duskywing


The Eastern Persius Duskywing is a small dark butterfly with a wingspan of 24 to 31 mm. It has diffuse grey patches in the upper forewing separated by a line of four white spots; a fifth white spot may be present at the lower border of one of the grey patches. The hindwings are solid brown with a smattering of slightly paler brown spots dotted throughout. The head, thorax and abdomen are dark brown. The larva is pale green, striped with black and yellow along its back. (Updated 2017/02/20)


Distribution and Population

Persius Duskywing is presently separated into four described subspecies, one of which is the Eastern Persius Duskywing. In Canada, the Eastern Persius Duskywing is restricted to southwestern Ontario and its range doesn’t overlap with that of other subspecies.The Eastern Persius Duskywing is known from two sites in Canada: Pinery Provincial Park and St. Williams. Although no targeted surveys for Eastern Persius Duskywing have been conducted since 2006, butterfly enthusiasts have visited the two known sites many times over the past 10 years and have not recorded the species (Kulon pers. comm. 2015; Yukich pers. comm. 2015). Futhermore, it has never been collected elsewhere in Canada. (Updated 2017/02/20)



Eastern Persius Duskywings are believed to be restricted to sites where the larval food plants, Wild Lupine and Wild Indigo, grow. Typically, they are found in open areas interspersed with mature trees, such as oak savannahs, pine barrens and prairies or other open, sunny locations, such as forest glades and roadsides. (Updated 2017/02/20)



In Canada, adult Eastern Persius Duskywings fly from early May to early June, exhibiting the quick, irregular flight typical of other duskywings. Very little is known regarding the reproduction of this species, except that the females lay single eggs on new leaves of Wild Lupine, which is thought to be its preferred host, and Wild Indigo. Larvae feed exclusively on the host plant inside rolled-leaf nests. Adults feed on the nectar of a variety of flower species. The caterpillars grow to maturity by July, at which point they stop feeding and enter a period of dormancy. They overwinter in their leaf nests. The following spring, they continue their development and form pupae, from which the adults emerge.(Updated 2017/02/20)



It is believed that the Eastern Persius Duskywing has suffered from poor habitat management and habitat change, which resulted in sharp decreases and destruction of populations of host plants. In Ontario, Sundial Lupine (Lupinus perennis) is the only known host plant for the caterpillars of the Eastern Persius Duskywing. Natural succession of open woodland, fire suppression, and direct anthropogenic alterations of the habitat through resource extraction or tree-planting have adversely affected many areas that may have been occupied by this skipper in the past. (Updated 2017/02/20)



Federal Protection

The Eastern Persius Duskywing 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.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.


Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Karner Blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis), Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus) and Eastern Persius Duskywing (Erynnis persius persius) in Canada
Status First posting on SAR registry


Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date In cooperation with the Karner Blue Recovery Team, the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources are preparing a recovery strategy for the Karner Blue and Frosted Elfin in Canada. The recovery goals and objectives are aiming to create enough suitable habitat for the Karner Blue in three geographically distinct areas (Northfolk, Lambton and Northumberland Counties) so that the species can be reintroduced into Canada. By completing recovery actions for the Karner Blue, especially involving the restoration of oak savannah and tallgrass prairie habitat, the Frosted Elfin and Persius Duskywing will benefit, as they depend on the same habitat as well (the two species, however, are only known historically from the Norfolk location). Recovery efforts for the Karner Blue are much more advanced than for the Frosted Elfin and Persius Duskywing, largely due to the significant progress made on recovery of this species in the United States. Summary of Research/Monitoring A research study, led by York University in 2004, assessed the suitability of each of the restored oak savannah areas in Ontario targeted for Karner Blue reintroduction by collecting quantitative field data to determine if they meet a minimum ecological standard for reintroduction. Although none of the sites met all the minimum standards for Karner Blue reintroduction, further restoration and management is possible to improve the habitats so that they are suitable for reintroduction. Specific recommendations, required to achieve minimum standards for reintroduction, were provided in the study for each area. Activities based on these recommendations are ongoing. At Alderville First Nation, a Black oak savannah and tallgrass Prairie project is underway that aims to improve and protect Karner Blue and Persius Duskywing butterfly habitat, and associated rare tallgrass habitats. A volunteer Wild Lupine planting program has been underway for seven years, and the success of these plantings is being assessed through the measurement of Lupine development, density, and survival. The evaluation of the lupine population is necessary to ensure the plants are self-propagating and the site is suitable for supporting viable populations of Lupine. Protocols for transport and release of butterflies have been developed in the U.S. and the Toronto Zoo has been working on a captive rearing protocol for the Karner Blue. In 2006, Pinery Provincial Park completed a study on second brood nectaring plant availability. The results will be used to guide more restoration work to increase diversity of second brood nectaring species. Summary of Recovery Activities There has been a number of oak savanna restoration projects carried out in each of three target areas for reintroduction (Lambton County, Norfolk County, and Northumberland County). These undertakings have provided a great deal of experience and knowledge in the reclamation of sites. Lambton County – Lake Huron shorelineAt Pinery Provincial Park, habitat improvement initiatives have been underway since 1997. The Park has regularly collected and planted Wild Lupine seeds since 1993 to increase regeneration and also to connect this location with the Port Franks location to facilitate dispersal between populations. Seeds from nectar producing flowers, such as Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) and New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus), have been planted to provide a food source to adult butterflies. Outreach material on the Karner Blue butterfly is on display at the visitor’s centre and park tabloids/newsletters are released regularly to inform the public of recovery activities. The Karner Blue Sanctuary in Port Franks also has undergone habitat restoration since 1992 through the removal of tree plantations and thinning of forests to open up the area and increase the growth of the former oak savannah vegetation. Nectar source plantings have been conducted in the past at this location. Norfolk County – St. Williams The St. Williams Forest is managed as a conservation reserve by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Its combined diversity of ecological communities (including oak savanna, oak woodland, other tallgrass communities; and sand barrens, forests, wetlands, and streams) supports one of the highest concentrations of species at risk in Ontario and Canada. A goal of the management of this area is to maintain and restore native ecological communities and their associated species. The area has undergone restoration (thinning and controlled burns) to reclaim habitat in locations historically known to support both the Karner Blue and Frosted Elfin. Northumberland County – Rice Lake PlainsA Joint Initiative among the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ontario Parks, County of Northumberland, Lower Trent Conservation, Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority, the Wetland Habitat Fund, conservation partners, and the local landowners is working together to protect and steward one of Ontario's last remaining sites of tallgrass prairie and black oak savanna and the species that live there. Numerous activities are underway in the area. With assistance from the Habitat Stewardship program, field reclamation measures to improve or create tallgrass and savannah habitat have been undertaken at Alderville First Nation, including restoring original vegetation by planting native prairie seeds, removing encroaching growth, and conducting controlled burns. Wild Lupine plantings have occurred annually since 2002 to increase the population and density for Karner Blue Butterfly habitat. There are currently 32 ha of savanna and tallgrass habitat available, with another 9 ha of old field slated for restoration in the future. In 2007, Alderville First Nation is planning to seek out local residents and inform them of the value of tallgrass habitat and the species at risk it supports. Articles in community newsletters, displays, websites, and audio/visual presentations are keeping the local public aware of activities, volunteer opportunities, workshops, and meetings to support the stewardship for the Karner Blue. Moreover, the Toronto Zoo has produced outreach materials (e.g. The Oak Savannah and Karner Blue Butterfly Wheel) for educational and fundraising purposes. URLs Ontario’s Biodiversity: Species at Risk: Frosted Elfinhttp://www.rom.on.ca/ontario/risk.php?doc_type=fact&lang=&id=56 Butterflies of Canada: Frosted Elfinhttp://www.cbif.gc.ca/spp_pages/butterflies/species/FrostedElfin_e.php Butterflies of Canada: Persius Duskywinghttp://digir.agr.gc.ca/spp_pages/butterflies/species/PersiusDuskywing_e.php Ontario’s Biodiversity: Species at Risk: Karner Bluehttp://www.rom.on.ca/ontario/risk.php?doc_type=fact&lang=&id=57


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

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Status Appraisal Summary on the Eastern Persius Duskywing Erynnis persius persius in Canada (2017)

    This lupine-feeding butterfly has been confirmed from only two localities in Canada. It inhabits oak savannas in southern Ontario, a habitat that has undergone substantial declines and alterations. Larval host-plant populations have been greatly reduced. There have been no confirmed reports of this butterfly since 1987, but there have been no intensive surveys for the species since 2003. This, combined with its similarity with other duskywings, makes it possible that it still occurs but has been overlooked.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Eastern Persius Duskywing (2017)

    This lupine-feeding butterfly has been confirmed from only two localities in Canada. It inhabits oak savannas in southern Ontario, a habitat that has undergone substantial declines and alterations. Larval host-plant populations have been greatly reduced. There have been no confirmed reports of this butterfly since 1987, but there have been no intensive surveys for the species since 2003. This, combined with its similarity with other duskywings, makes it possible that it still occurs but has been overlooked.
  • Response Statements - Eastern Persius Duskywing (2006)

    This lupine-feeding butterfly has been confirmed from only two sites in Canada.  It inhabits oak savannahs in southern Ontario, a habitat that has undergone substantial declines and alterations. Larval host plant populations have been greatly reduced. There have been no confirmed records of this butterfly for 18 years, but unconfirmed sight records suggest that the species might still exist in Canada.

Recovery Strategies


  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2007) (2007)

    This Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of 40 species done pursuant to paragraph 15(1)(a) and in accordance with subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (2007)

    Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act, hereby makes the annexed Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2006 (2006)

    2006 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2015-2016 (2016)

    Over the past year COSEWIC re-examined the status of 25 wildlife species; of these, the majority (68%) were re-assessed at the same or lower level of risk. Of a total of 45 species assessed, seven were assigned a status of Not at Risk (two re-assessments and five new assessments). To date, and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 724 wildlife species in various risk categories, including 320 Endangered, 172 Threatened, 209 Special Concern, and 23 Extirpated (i.e., no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 15 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct, 54 wildlife species have been designated as Data Deficient, and 177 have been assessed and assigned Not at Risk status.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act Terrestrial Species: December 2006 (2006)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list. Please submit your comments by March 16, 2007 for species undergoing normal consultations and by March 14, 2008 for species undergoing extended consultations.
  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species - January 2017 (2017)

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection afforded by the prohibitions and from recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 521 wildlife species at risk. In 2016, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, the Governor in Council approved listing proposals for 44 wildlife species. It is proposed that 23 species be added to Schedule 1, 18 be reclassified or have a change made to how they are defined (two wildlife species are being split into four), one species  be removed from Schedule 1, and another two species not be added. Listing proposals were published in Canada Gazette, part I for a 30-day public comment period and final listing decisions for all 44 species are expected in the first half of 2017.Please submit your comments byMay 11, 2017, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultationsand byOctober 11, 2017, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please see:Species at Risk Public Registry website The COSEWIC Summaries of Terrestrial Species Eligible for Addition or Reclassification on Schedule 1 - January 2017

Recovery Document Posting Plans

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada's Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan (2016)

    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Three-Year Recovery Document Posting Plan identifies the species for which recovery documents will be posted each fiscal year starting in 2014-2015. Posting this three year plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency to partners, stakeholders, and the public about Environment and Climate Change Canada’s plan to develop and post these proposed recovery strategies and management plans. However, both the number of documents and the particular species that are posted in a given year may change slightly due to a variety of circumstances. Last update March 31, 2017