Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly:  Wingspan: 1 to 1 1/2 inches (2.5 - 3.8 cm). The underside of the hindwing is dark brown with a band of dark dashes that are edged in white. The blue tail-spot is not topped with red. The hindwing has one long and one short tail. The upperside of both sexes is dark brown.  Males have a forewing scent patch; females may have orange patches, but uppersides are seldom seen.

ID Tip: Undersurface hindwing has a blue patch that is not capped with red.  Bands of white dashes form bars. Two sets of tails.

Egg: Flattened disc-shaped pinkish eggs are deposited on twigs, branches and in bark crevices. They are the overwintering stage.

Caterpillar: There are several color forms: creamy white with a green stripe and green blotches; green with a dark brown stripe and yellow lines: light brown with or without lines and dashes.

Chrysalis: Dark brown and mottled. Pellet-shaped.

Banded Hairstreaks fly only once a year and are typically on the wing in early summer.  Their genus, satyrium, includes several other species that are also univoltine (single-brooded) and share many physical and behavioral traits.  Bandeds are typically the most common of that group, perhaps because their habitat is so common.

Male Banded Hairstreaks are commonly encountered along woodland trails and openings where they strategically perch to watch for females.  They are pugnacious territory-defenders, and their aerial dogfights are legendary.  Males tirelessly dart and swirl with other encroaching males, and encounters may last several minutes. Combatants momentarily separate only to go at each other again. They eventually retreat to the same, eye-level perch and resume sentry duty. Female Bandeds make themselves scarce (perhaps to avoid the onslaught of amorous males), and are most often discovered a good nectaring sites.  Early mornings and late afternoons are favorite feeding times.

Many life history details remain to be documented in Alabama, including specific host plants.

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, Blount, Calhoun, Chilton, Cleburne, Colbert, DeKalb, Jackson, Jefferson, Marengo, Marshall, Shelby, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa

  • 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
1 11 28 33 38 25 5 4

Habitat

In and near Oak/Hickory woodlands

Host and Nectar Plants

Oaks (Quercus spp.) and Hickories (Carya spp.) are reported.

No host plant has yet been verified in Alabama.

Landscaping Ideas

Banded Hairstreaks typically use oaks and/or hickories as their caterpillar hosts.  Including oaks in the landscape is highly beneficial to many butterflies as well as other wildlife.

Bandeds, like other hairstreaks, are highly attracted to Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa): its bloom time coincides with their once-a-year flight.  Other nectar-rich flowers with small floral tubes and the appropriate flowering time may also attract Banded Hairstreaks.  These include Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) trees and Sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum).