Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan is 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 inches (3.2-3.9 cm). A dark skipper with blackish-brown wing coloration.The undersides of the hindwing is "dusted" with tiny white specks. There is a white dot on the underside and near the base of the hindwing. Three white dots are near the tip of the forewing on the underside. A white line is present over the eye, which helps to distinguish it from the similiar-looking Clouded Skipper

Egg: The hemispherical lemon yellow eggs are laid on the leaves of the host plants.

Caterpillar: The caterpillar head is dark reddish purple. The body is pale lavender on the back but turns gray behind the head and along the sides. Long cream colored hairs cover the body. Caterpillars eat leaves of their host plant grasses, and live in tents of silked-together leaves.

Chrysalis: Fully-grown caterpillars hibernate and pupate in a sealed nest at the base of the host plant, generally 1-3" off the ground.

Dusted Skippers are almost always found in localized colonies that are near patches of their host grass. Sightings are usually scarce, and according to NatureServe, many colonies probably produce only a few dozen adults per year.  Most populations depend on human management to maintain the necessary open, grassy habitat they require.  Periodic controlled burns are essential in some areas, but the use of airports and power-line cuts are also reported.  Small populations are particularly at risk of disappearing due to habitat loss. 

Male Dusted Skippers perch on or close to the ground.  Females reportedly fly low through grasses and deposit their eggs on host grass stems.  These lifestyle traits are one of the reasons that open, grassy areas that often include bare ground or rock are essential.  Dusted Skippers are seldom found where grassy groundcovers are thick.

The Dusted Skipper is distributed from Florida north to central New England, west to southeastern Saaskatchewan and south to northern New Mexico, and east to Georgia. The eastern and western populations probably represent different subspecies. This skipper is largely absent from the coastal plain of the southeastern states.

 

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, Calhoun, Cleburne

  • 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

Old fields, airports, woodland clearings, and power-line cuts that are dominated by native grasses are commonly utilized in the eastern U.S. One key habitat feature is a dominance of the host grass, generally with intermixed patches of bare sand or rock. 

Habitats include disturbed areas, especially burned-over areas.  Most of the more natural habitats are subject to fire.  If the species persists in that general area, the immatures (usually caterpillars) must either survive the burn or adults must be good colonists.  The Cleburne County sightings were in an area of the Talladega National Forest that is subject to periodic controlled burns.

 

Host and Nectar Plants

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparius) has been documented as a host plant in Alabama. In the eastern United States, host plants are typically Little Bluestem and Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardi). 

Dusted Skippers nectar from a variety of flowers.

 

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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