Back on May 2 1989 I was looking to get outside for a spring butterfly outing. Harlan County Reservoir was just an hour away so off I went. I parked in the lot at the south end of the dam and started checking the chokecherry, lilac and aromatic sumac flowers which were all in bloom. I found a nice variety of butterflies including Juniper Hairstreaks, Wild Indigo Duskywings, and Olympia Marblewings. Somewhere in the course of the afternoon I caught a small non-descript skipper. After returning home and pinning it up I was unable to identify it. After Dr. Ray Stanford of Denver (an expert on western species) passed on making an id I was really curious. I passed the specimen on to Steve Spomer at UNL who in turn circulated it to his circle of “experts”. It ended up being a female Cobweb Skipper (Hesperia metea) which had never been found in the state before. The Cobweb Skipper is primarily southeastern in distribution, flying in the spring. It’s larvae feed on bluestem grasses. There are several Kansas records but the Harlan County Nebraska record is the northwestern most in the continent. Over the past 30 years the Harlan County spring trip has become an annual event. Two other times I think I have spotted Cobweb Skippers but the the critter is so small and indistinctly marked I can never be sure. I’m unsure as to whether to specimen blew in or is a resident in the state. One of Steve’s experts related that this species is somewhat of a homebody, not straying far from its breeding habitat If a resident it’s early spring flight time would explain it’s paucity of records. It should be watched for on/near native prairies in the southeastern portions of the state in the spring. The skipper was donated to the UNL insects collection.
Cobweb Skipper Hesperia metea Scudder, 1864 | Butterflies and Moths of North America