Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 7/8 to 1 inch (2.2-2.5 cm). Various amounts of bright olive green and rusty brown on underwing surfaces.  Forewing has a straight submarginal white band and orange scaling along the trailing edge.  The hindwing has two short tails.  There are small white bars toward the base and an irregular white band across the middle that is edged on the inside with rusty brown. Upper surfaces are seldom seen, but are generally brown or brown with rusty scales.  Males have a gray stigma patch on the forewing.

ID Tip: Green and rusty brown. On wing underside, forewing band of white is aligned.

Egg: Light green, flattened disc.  Laid singly on host.

Caterpillar: Bright green with bold white dashes that make it highly camouflaged with cedar foliage.

Chrysalis: Dark brown, and pellet shaped.  It is the overwintering stage.

Look for Juniper Hairstreaks wherever stands of red cedar are accompanied by small, nectar-rich flowers. Juniper Hairstreaks appear shockingly green when viewed alone, but perched on cedar twigs (which they often are), they blend invisibly with its foliage.  They are so difficult to detect that the time-honored method for locating them involves vigorously shaking or tapping cedar tress, causing butterflies to swirl up before re-alighting. Look at the top of the tallest Eastern Red Cedar in the area to see if male Junipers may be perching and then swirling at its top.

Juniper Hairstreaks begin to fly in early spring and at least two broods occur in Alabama.  They probably oocur throughout the state since their red cedar host is so common and widespread. 

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, Colbert, Coosa, Covington, Dallas, DeKalb, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Perry, Randolph, Shelby, Sumter, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, Winston

  • Sightings in the past 5 years
  • Sightings in the past 5 - 10 years
  • Sightings more than 10 years ago
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2 1 8 18 19 8 1 1 1 1 1 3 1 28

Habitat

Open areas that are alkaline and support red cedars. These include roadsides, old fields, and pastures as well as Blackland prairies, granite outcrops, and cedar glades.

Host and Nectar Plants

Red Cedars (Juniperus virginiana) are the sole known hosts.

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana Linnaeus var. virginiana) has been verified in Alabama.

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

Landscaping Ideas

Tall red cedars near nectar sources may attract Juniper Hairstreaks. Do not limb up your cedar trees since this renders them useless as hairstreak hosts. Research from the University of Florida has shown that female Junipers choose trees with natural shapes for egg placement.  These trees have a rich layer of “duff” (decaying organic matter) underneath that shelters and helps protect chrysalides from the elements.

In addtion to their cedar host, Juniper Hairstreaks are attracted by small-flowered nectar plants.  Favorites include mountain mints (Pycnanthemum spp.) and milkweeds (Asclepias spp.).