Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Agronomy, Horticulture, and Plant Science

First Advisor

Paul Johnson


Hesperia dacotae (Skinner, 1911) (Insecta: Lepidoptera), also known as Dakota skipper, is a northern Great Plains species of butterfly associated with tall or mixed grass prairies. Its range once extended from southern Manitoba, southeastern Saskatchewan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, to Iowa and Illinois. Now H. dacotae is only found in small isolated pockets in southern Manitoba, southeastern Saskatchewan, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. The species is often observed on alkaline prairies with poor soil not desirable for cultivation. Thus, many of the historical H. dacotae are used for pasturing cattle or as hay prairie. The loss of habitat has been one of the greatest factors to H. dacotae decline. In 2014, H. dacotae was listed as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. H. dacotae as endangered since March 2018. This study surveyed H. dacotae in eastern South Dakota, looking at inhabited sites, historical sites and non-historical sites. There were 10 state owned sites, 9 tribal owned sites and 1 privately owned site. Management of prairie remnants has played an important role in whether a population of H. dacotae has persisted on the site. Many of the inhabited sites were used as fall hay prairies. One site was hayed earlier than August in 2014 and several years after and H. dacotae has not seen on the site since. Sites that once had H. dacotae that were grazed did not have any observations of H. dacotae in the two years of this study. To protect the remaining populations of H. dacotae, land management practices need to be at the forefront.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dakota skipper -- South Dakota.
Dakota skipper -- Habitat -- South Dakota.
Dakota skipper -- Conservation -- South Dakota.
Butterflies -- Habitat -- South Dakota.
Grasses -- South Dakota.
Habitat conservation -- South Dakota.
Land use, Rural -- South Dakota.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University

Included in

Entomology Commons



Rights Statement

In Copyright