Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: : Wingspan: 3/4 to 1 inch (1.9-2.5 cm). Underwing surfaces are light gray-brown with a red band edged with a thin white line that crosses both hind and forewings. Width of the red band varies. There is blue scaling and at least one black eyespot near the double tails.  Upper wing surfaces differ according to sex:  Males are slate gray with no markings; females are gray with iridescent blue scales that are visible in flight.

ID Tip: On ventral wings, there is a conspicuous orange or red-orange band. Zigzags on hindwing.

Egg: Creamy brown, flattened disc.  Typically laid on dead leaves located beneath host.

Caterpillar: Pinkish brown with numerous short hairs.  Often eats decaying leaves of its host plant.

Chrysalis: Mottled brown and tan.  Pellet-shaped. The chrysalis is the over-wintering stage.

Their zigzagging red bands separate Red-Banded Hairstreaks from all other hairstreaks in the state.  They are habitat generalists and occur widely throughout Alabama.  These hairstreaks produce several distinct broods.  Occasionally, large outbreaks occur when they seem be everywhere. They are common inhabitants of fall-flowering fields.  Months later, when dozens nectar amid wild plum blossoms, they are a welcomed sign spring.

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: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Bullock, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Cleburne, Coffee, Colbert, Covington, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Fayette, Franklin, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Houston, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Macon, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Washington, Wilcox, Winston

  • 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):

  • 107 - Shelby - 4/12/2008
  • 81 - Jefferson - 9/9/2017
  • 62 - Colbert - 4/14/2012
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 1 3 58 26 123 250 214 351 245 45 31 20 7 13 14 27 147 37 53 39 10 8 8 36 29 187 283 252 117 131 52 45 12 6 9 2 1 2


Woodland edges and adjacent open areas.

Host and Nectar Plants

Sumacs (Rhus spp.), wax myrtles (Morella spp.), and oaks (Quercus spp) are reported in other areas. 

In Alabama, sumacs (Rhus spp.) and oaks (Quercus spp.) have been verified.  Caterpillars often feed on decaying plant material below the host.

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

Landscaping Ideas

Red-banded Hairstreaks nectar from a variety of small flowers.  Provide a range of flowers throughout the seasons to ensure that they and other butterflies have on-going nectar sources.

Including oak trees in the landscape is highly beneficial to many butterflies, including Red-banded Hairstreaks.