Butterfly: Wingspan is 1 - 1 5/16 inches (2.5 - 3.3 cm). This is a relatively small skipper. Upperside is glossy black with small white spots on outer third of forewing. The female has more white spots on the forewing than the male, and a submarginal row of spots on the hindwing. Underside of forewing repeats the upperside; hindwing is solid black.
Egg: Females lay eggs singly on the tops of host plant leaves.
Caterpillar: The caterpillars have a black head and a pale green body with light flecks. Caterpillars of the second brood overwinter in their silk-lined leaf shelters and pupate within them in the spring..Caterpillars live and feed within shelters of folded leaves. .
Chrysalis: Light brown to dark brown with a grayish bloom over much of the body.
Common Sootywings bask with their wings spread open. Males patrol in sunny places, near the ground, to find unmated females.
This skipper is distributed mainly in the central U.S. In optimal years, it occasionally strays into northern states and southern Canada. In Alabama, it is generally found only in the northern one-half of the state.
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 High Count information shows the highest numbers recorded for this species as well as when and where they occurred.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sightings in the following counties: Cleburne, Colbert, DeKalb, Jackson, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Marshall
View county names by moving the mouse over a county or view a map with county names
The Common Sootywing is usually found flying and nectaring near its host plants, which are often found in weedy meadows, construction sites, landfills, gardens, farm fields, abandoned lots, freshly plowed fields, and dumps.
In nearby states the larvae reportedly feed on Common Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album), amaranths (Amaranthus spp.) and celosias (Celosia ssp.).
Common Lambsquarters is the only documented host in Alabama.
For more information about the documented host plants and/or nectar plants, please visit the Alabama Plant Atlas using the following links:
Common Sootywings are sometimes seen in suburban landscapes. If you have a lawn, consider letting it be natural. The diverse assemblage of native and nonnative flowering plants and grasses typically found in naturalized lawns provides nectar and host sources for many small butterflies including Common Sootywings.