Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan is 1 ¼ to 1 11/16ths inches (3.2-4.3 cm). The Ocola Skipper is easily identified from the underside by two characters: (1) the forewing is much longer than the hindwing, being long, slender and pointed; and, (2) both wings are plain brown and unmarked. Females have a purplish iridescent sheen on the underside of the hindwing. The upperside of the wings is yellowish-brown. The outer one-third of the forewing has a bullet-shaped, yellowish-white spot in the medial portion of the wing along with a couple of other smaller spots.  The hindwing is brown above.

Egg:  Females deposit their dirty white, hemispherical-shaped eggs singly on the host plant leaves. 

Caterpillar: The caterpillar is light green with a dark middorsal stripe, and with faint yellowish-white lateral stripes coursing down the body. The head is green. The body is tapered toward the head.

Chrysalis: The green chrysalis has four yellow stripes along the abdomen. The chrysalis head is equipped with a long, pointed projection in front.

Ocola Skippers are best observed as they visit flowers to nectar. They have a quick, darting flight usually within a few feet off the ground.  Males may be observed as they perch on low vegetation. 

The Ocola Skipper has been documented in the northern, central, and southern counties of the State.  It will likely be eventually found in all counties in Alabama.

The Ocola Skipper is a resident of the southern states including Georgia, Florida, and other Gulf coastal states to Texas, then south through the West Indies, Mexico, Central America and Argentina, South America. It expands its range northward in the U. S. each year as far north as Massachusetts, New York and Indiana.  It is especially abundant during the fall months.

  

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: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Bullock, Chambers , Chilton, Choctaw, Clay, Coffee, Cullman, Dale, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Geneva, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lee, Limestone, Lowndes, Macon, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Washington, Wilcox

  • Sightings in the past 5 years
  • Sightings in the past 5 - 10 years
  • Sightings more than 10 years ago
County Distribution Map

View county names by moving the mouse over a county or view a map with county names

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2 2 1 3 9 14 5 3 5 8 23 28 39 39 45 85 180 24 48 11 9 7

Habitat

The Ocola Skipper may be found in a wide-variety of habitats, especially where their nectar sources grow in abundance. While some authors indicate that they prefer low, damp open areas, we have found them often in rather dry situations.  They may be found in vacant lots, roadsides, open and grassy fields, weedy fields, utility right-of-ways, and gardens. Near the coast in Mobile and Baldwin counties, it may be found in sand dunes and shrub thickets.

Host and Nectar Plants

In Alabama, Cutgrass (Leersia spp.) has been verified as a host plant.

In nearby states, the larvae of the Ocala Skipper eat leaves of Sugar Cane (Saccharum spp.), Cultivated Rice (Oryza sativa), Southern Cutgrass (Leersia hexandra), and various aquatic and semi-aquatic grasses (Family Poaceae).

Ocola Skippers are known to sip nectar from a variety of flowers.

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

Landscaping Ideas

In areas where it is commmon, including garden-worthy native nectar plants such as Grounsel Tree (Baccharis halimifolia), Common Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), ironweeds (Vernonia spp.), milkweeds (Asclepias spp.), blazing stars (Liatris spp.), and Joe Pye weeds (Eutrochium spp.) in your landscape can benefit Ocola Skippers and many other butterfly species.