Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1 3/8 - 1 3/4 inches (3.5 - 4.5 cm). Underside of both wings has rounded yellow-rimmed black eyespots within reddish-orange lines.

ID Tip: Round eyespots within reddish-orange lines on ventral hindwing.  Usually two to four faint eyespots on ventral forewing.

Egg: Greenish orb, laid singly or in very small clusters on or near host plant

Caterpillar:  Green with yellow-green stripes along the side.  Young larvae have dark heads.  Older caterpillars have green heads with very small horns.  Rear is forked.  Partially grown caterpillars overwinter.

Chrysalis: Green with whitish line edged in dark along wing case.

On June 3, 2000, Dr. Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the North American Butterfly Association, and his wife, Jane Scott, casually focused their binoculars on a medium-sized butterfly resting on a Bibb County roadside.  To their amazement, they saw Mitchell's Satyr--a critically imperiled, federally endangered species whose nearest known population was more than 500 miles away in North Carolina.  Intense searches occurred over the next three years, and several small, fragmented colonies were discovered within the Oakmulgee Ranger District of the Talladega National Forest. In the years that have followed, other colonies have been found, and the species is now known from four counties in Alabama.  But Mitchell's Satyr habitat is ephemeral: as natural plant succession has progressed, some of the original sites no longer seem to support the butterflies.

Mitchell's Satyr's ecological niche in Alabama is only beginning to be understood, but it is clear that this species is a habitat specialist.  A wetland species, it bobs and weaves through vegetation that forms the interface between open, sunny marsh meadows and canopied swamp forests. Shrubs are numerous, but grasses, sedges, and rushes predominate in the dappled shade.  In Alabama, this unique habitat is most often created and maintained by long-term beaver activity. 

Mitchell's Satyrs avoid direct sunlight and are most active in late afternoon and on warm, overcast days. Males patrol in search of females who spend most of their time resting beneath foliage.  In other parts of this butterfly's limited range, sedges are listed as primary host plants, but in Alabama, Mitchell's Satyrs have been observed using grasses as hosts.  

Distribution and Abundance

A dot on the county map indicates that there is at least one documented record of the species within that county. In some cases, a species may be common throughout the county, in others it may be found in only a specific habitat.

The sightings bar graphs depict the timing of flight(s) within each of three geographic regions. Place your cursor on a bar within the graph to see the number of individuals recorded during that period.

The abundance calendar displays the total number of individuals recorded within each week of the month. Both the graphs and the calendar are on based data collection that began in 2000.

The records analyzed here are only a beginning. As more data is collected, these maps and graphs will paint a more accurate picture of distribution and abundance in Alabama. Submit your sightings to albutterflyatlas@gmail.com.

Sightings in the following counties: Bibb, Fayette, Hale, Tuscaloosa

  • Sightings in the past 5 years
  • Sightings in the past 5 - 10 years
  • Sightings more than 10 years ago
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
28 37 4 5 1 19 34 1

Habitat

Primarily beaver-impacted wetlands

Host and Nectar Plants

Various sedges (Carex spp,) are typically reported.

These host plants have been verified in Alabama: Forked Witch Grass (Dichanthelium dichotomum), Japanese Stilt Grass (Microstegium vimineum).

 

For more information about the documented host plants and/or nectar plants, please visit the Alabama Plant Atlas using the following links:

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