Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan is 1 to 1 ¼ inches (2.5–3.2 cm). The Northern Broken-Dash is a medium-sized, mostly homogeneously brown skipper with a few light beige spots.  The upperside of males have have a divided stigma on the postbasal-postmedian region of the forewing, similar to that of the Southern Broken-Dash (hence the name ”broken dash”).  The male forewing has a pale pinkish spot at the tip of the divided black stigma.  The underside of the male is purplish to reddish brown with a submarginal, curved row of pale beige spots on the hindwing. The upperside of the female is brown with a row of pale orange spots in the outer forewing. Both sexes have the characteristic faint, curved row of pale spots on the hindwing submargin.

Egg: Females deposit relatively large, hemispherical, green eggs singly on grass blades. A red ring appears around the egg soon after it is laid.

Caterpillar: Newly hatched caterpillars are yellow and have a black head. Whenever the larvae enter diapause in the fall, they do so in this early stage.  During the following spring, and after winter hibernation, later stage caterpillars are green with darker green mottling. Faint stripes extend down the dorsum and sides.  The brown head has a dark central stripe and pale lateral stripes on the face.  The dorsal portion of the chrysalis is green with a yellow abdomen, and a brown head region.

Chrysalis: The dorsal portion of the chrysalis is green with a yellow abdomen, and a brown head region.

Males may be seen perching on low shrubs and other vegetation a few feet off the ground. They are most active during the morning hours as they fly about in search of females.

The Northern Broken-Dash has been documented primarily in the upper two-thirds of Alabama. Elsewhere, it occurs from Maine westward across southern Ontario to the Great Lake states, and to eastern North Dakota; thence southward to southeast Texas and eastward along the Gulf Coast states, to central Florida.

Taxonomic Notes: The Northern Broken-Dash and the Southern Broken-Dash were long considered to be subspecies.  However, they have been documented as occurring together at the same locality where they do not interbreed with one another.  Therefore, it became obvious to taxonomists that they were really two distinct species in spite of their similar features. The Northern Broken-Dash is not as common as the Southern Broken-Dash.

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, Cleburne, Coffee, Colbert, Covington, Dallas, DeKalb, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Perry, Sumter, Tallapoosa

  • 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 3 4 5 6 2 1 2 2 1 2 4 2 9 5 4 1

Habitat

The Northern Broken-Dash is usually found in weedy fields and other open areas near woodlands and wet areas. We have seen it puddling on damp, sunny spots along woodland roads that border swampy areas.

Host and Nectar Plants

In Alabama, host plants have not yet been documented.

In nearby states, the larvae of the Northern Broken-Dash feed on blades of panic grasses (Panicum spp.), Switchgrass (P. virgatum), and Deer Tongue Witch Grass (P. clandestinum).

The Northern Broken-Dash nectars from a wide variety of flowers. 

Landscaping Ideas

Provide a variety of garden worthy, nectar-rich flowers to attract butterflies like the Northern Broken-Dash. These include: Butterfly Milkweed and other milkweeds; Purple Coneflower and other coneflowers; black eyed susans; phloxes; mountain mints; Common Buttonbush; Joe Pye weeds; gayfeathers/blazing stars; Mistflower; ironweeds; asters; and goldenrods.

If you have a lawn in your landscape, 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 the Northern Broken-Dash.