Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan is 1  7/16 to 1 13/16 inches (3.6-4.6 cm). The upperside of both fore- and hindwing  is bright yellow-orange with wide black margins.  A thin black bar is located at the end cell. The underside of the hindwing is pale yellow in males and orange in females. This wing in both sexes has a postmedian band of paler spots.

Egg: The eggs are laid singly on the leaves of grasses.

Caterpillar: The caterpillars are bluish-green in color and covered with fine white hairs. The head is white and edged with black; three black vertical stripes cross the facial area. The caterpillars feed on leaves and retreat into shelters constructed of rolled leaves tied together with silk strands.  The caterpillars overwinter in the fourth instar and complete their development in the spring. 

Chrysalis:  The caterpillar spins a dense silk cocoon in which to pupate. The cocoon is constructed in leaf litter at the base of its Eastern  gamagrass host plant.

Males emerge about one week before the females. During this time they visit flowers for nectar and battle among themselves. When the females emerge, males rarely visit flowers or fight. Rather, they fly in a rapid skipping flight back and forth across their tall host plants trying to find freshly emerged females. Females have a sluggish flight and rarely leave clumps of host grasses.

The Byssus Skipper is not common, and has been documented in only a few widely-separated Alabama counties.  It may occur anywhere in Alabama where wetlands and marshes occur along with its host plants. It is distributed in widely scattered colonies from the Atlantic coastal states of North Carolina south to Florida and across the Gulf states to eastern Texas; thence northward in the Midwest to Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa.

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: Baldwin, Bibb, Bullock, Chambers , Clay, Cleburne, Hale, Lamar, Macon, Marion, Tallapoosa

  • 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
4 2 6 17 3 1 1 2 5 15 51 5 1 2 5

Habitat

In Alabama, the Byssus Skipper occurs in wetlands and marshy areas. Indeed, the few specimens that we have documented were near a marshy wetland and the shoreline of a large lake.

Host and Nectar Plants

In Alabama, the host plants have not yet been documented.

In other states, the caterpillars are known to feed on leaves of Eastern Gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides). Other grasses are also suspected.

The Byssus Skipper sips nectar from a variety of flowers.

Landscaping Ideas