Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1 7/8 to 2 1/2 inches (4.8-6.4 cm).  The underwings are largely yellow with a few pink spots.  A distinctive white spot ringed with black (the “dog’s eye”) is located near the center of the forewing.  The upper wing surface of both sexes contains black margins that form the distinctive dog’s head field marks. This species is seasonally dimorphic: the reproductive summer form is basically yellow with black makings; the winter ("rosa") form is suffused with reddish pink.

ID Tip: Distinctly pointed forewing in addition to the “dog’s face” on the forewing top side, which is sometimes visible through closed wings.

Egg: Whitish, spindle-shaped eggs are laid singly or in small clusters on host plant.

Caterpillar: Green with a white and orange-spotted line on the lower sides.  Another form adds yellow and black crossbands from head to tail.  The head is green.

Chrysalis: Plump, green and only mildly pointed at head.  Strongly resembles a leaf until emergence is eminent, then the “dog’s face” and yellow wings are clearly visible.

Southern Dogfaces are a hit-or-miss proposition throughout much of their range in Alabama.  Known as migrants, they often merely wander through areas, showing up sporadically from year to year. However, in Alabama’s blackland prairies and Prairie Grove Glades, they are reliably resident and, at times, the most common butterfly. What keeps them in these habitats?  Prairie clovers (Dalea spp.) are prevalent in these areas and are preferred caterpillar hosts.  Another preferred host, Tall Indigo Bush (Amorpha fruticosa), often grows along riverbanks, and may provide dispersal corridors for these butterflies. 

Some say dog's face markings of Southern Dogface are schnauzer-like.  Others think they look like a poodle.  Most are lucky to see them at all because, like most sulphurs, Southern Dogfaces rarely hold their wings open for a good look at their name-inspiring markings.

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: Barbour, Bibb, Chilton, Choctaw, Colbert, Dallas, Franklin, Greene, Henry, Lawrence, Lee, Madison, Marengo, Marshall, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Sumter

  • 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):

  • 38 - Lawrence - 5/5/2012
  • 31 - Lawrence - 9/4/2010
  • 27 - Sumter - 10/28/2018
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 3 4 2 3 1 40 1 37 3 1 1 8 20 2 7 1 4 3 27 19 39 16 11 2 4 2 28


Open areas such as prairies, woodland edges, glades.  Also along stream, creek and river banks. Not usually close to human habitation.


Host and Nectar Plants

Members of the Pea family (Fabaceae), especially prairie-clovers (Dalea spp.) and false indigos (Amorpha spp.), are reported throughout the range.

Tall Indigo Bush/False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa), Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea), and White Prairie Clover (Dalea candida) are documented in Alabama.

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

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