Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan 1 to 1 1/2 inches (2.5-3.8 cm). Small, bright yellow butterfly with black forewing tips and a black outer border on the upperside of the wings. Females have a reduced black border on the hindwing. Underside is scattered with dark markings and a large, rusty spot often occurs near the outer edge of the hindwing. In general, males are brighter and more solidly marked. Females are sometimes white, particularly in the fall.

ID Tip: On underside, look for two tiny dots on hindwing base near body.

Egg: Creamy, spindle-shaped eggs are laid singly on host plant, usually on new growth.

Caterpillar: Slender, green body with thin white line on the sides, faint darker lines on the back, and short hairs. Head is green.

Chrysalis: Green with some white frosting. Small point on the head.

These charming butterflies are the most widespread and common of Alabama’s small sulphurs. However, they are not freeze-tolerant and recolonize from frost-free regions each year.  Nationally, as the summer progresses, their populations push further north than any of their close relatives.  

Little Yellows fly close to the ground and drink nectar from many low-growing flowers.  In addition, males avidly sip minerals from damp earth and are common constituents of late-summer puddle clubs.

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 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

Sightings in the following counties: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Bullock, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Clay, Cleburne, Coffee, Colbert, Coosa, Covington, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dale, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Geneva, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Macon, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Washington, Wilcox, Winston

  • Map Symbol for Recent Sightings Sightings in the past 5 years
  • Map Symbol for Semi-Recent Sightings Sightings in the past 5 - 10 years
  • Map Symbol for Old Sightings Sightings more than 10 years ago

High count(s):

  • 205 - Bibb - 9/7/2014
  • 118 - Tuscaloosa - 9/14/2012
  • 105 - Bibb - 9/15/2012
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
3 2 1 2 2 1 1 5 13 12 11 1 7 18 47 38 73 45 41 105 314 564 304 281 353 239 156 88 21 59 13 18 21 21 5 3


Open areas—fields, vacant lots, roadsides, woodland edges, gardens

Host and Nectar Plants

Members of the Pea family (Fabaceae), especially partridge peas (Chamaecrista spp.) and sennas (Senna spp.) are commonly reported.

These host plants have been verified in Alabama: Common Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), Common Sensitive Plant (Chamaecrista nictitans), Yellow Puff (Neptunia lutea), Powder Puff Mimosa (Mimosa strigulosa).

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

Landscaping Ideas

Include Partridge Pea in the landscape to feed many sulphur caterpillars, including those of Little Yellow.  Nectar sources that include asters, goldenrods, mistflowers, and other late season bloomers are important since Little Yellow populations peak in the fall.