Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: 2.8-3.3” (7.1-8.4 cm). Large. Dorsal (open) wings are black/brown with translucent green patches.  The exact shade of green varies and may also fade with age and wear.  Summer season butterflies display smaller green markings than winter season butterflies. There is a small, reddish brown mark on the inner hindwing. Closed wings (ventral) display a mixture of reddish-brown, creamy white, and pearly green.  A white stripe edged with reddish-brown bisects the hindwing. 

Egg: Translucent green. A flat-topped orb with pale, vertical ribs.  Laid singly on host leaves and flower bracts.

Caterpillar: Velvety black.  Prominent branched black or red horns on head.  Body has rows of long, branched spines. Those on the back are orange, red, or pink and are tipped with black.  Anal claspers are dull purple.  Small caterpillars hide in the flower bracts; mature caterpillars rest near the ground. These larvae spit green fluid when alarmed.

Chrysalis: The plump, lime green chrysalis hangs from a dark cremaster.  The head has two dark-tipped horns.  Small dark dots are sporadically placed.   There are four rows of short, golden spikes protruding at the top of the abdomen.

The only documented occurrence of Malachite in Alabama occurred on October 29, 2002 when James C. (Jimmy) Stevenson observed an adult resting on a large holly bush in Mobile.  He recalls that October had been particularly stormy that year.  Stevenson collected the butterfly, and the specimen is now housed at the Auburn Museum of Natural History.

Cuban-based Malachites colonized Florida in the 1960’s.  Although their populations were knocked back after Hurricane Andrew, they have continued to populate south Florida, moving into central Florida by late summer.  They are not considered wanderers, and Alabama has one of the only Malachite records for the Southeast, outside of Florida.

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: Mobile

  • 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
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Habitat

Generally disturbed areas. In Florida, often near fruit/avocado groves. 

Host and Nectar Plants

In Florida, Browne’s Blechum/Green Shrimp Plant (Blechum pryramidatum), a naturalized, exotic species, is typically used.  Other members of the Acanthus family, such as Carolina Wild Petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis) may also be chosen occasionally. 

No host plant has been documented in Alabama.

Adults typically choose rotting fruit rather than flower nectar.