Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 15/16 - 1 1/8 inches (2.4 - 2.9 cm). The upperside of the male is powdery blue, often with ill-defined white patches on the hindwing. Females have much white scaling on both forewings and hindwings. The underside of the hindwing is pale gray or white with small black dots and a dark zigzag line.Hindwing fringe is solid, with no checkering.

ID Tip: Closed wings are whitish.  Open wings are blue rather than violet, which is visible in flight. Typically larger than Spring Azures and not as heavily marked. Hindwing fringe not checkered.

Egg: Blue-green, flattened disc.

Caterpillar: Variable in color: green, to pinkish green with a dorsal line and pale bands on each segment of the back. 

Chrysalis: Light, golden brown.  It is the overwintering stage.

The Latin name “neglecta” is appropriate for these butterflies. For more than one hundred years, Summer Azures were overlooked as a species—considered only a seasonal form of Spring Azure.  Not until 1995 were look-alike Spring and Summer Azures recognized as different entities. 

Summer Azures are multi-brooded.  Their common name, "Summer" Azure, is confusing because they produce a spring brood that is on the wing even before Spring Azures.  In Alabama, much remains to be learned about the actual distribution and flight times of this commonly encountered but little understood butterfly.  Keep in mind that historic records did not recognize this species, and that even armed with knowledge of its existence, identification of the spring brood is often difficult.

Summer Azures are widespread and common in Alabama, perhaps because they have a wide range of host plants.  Often these plants bear flowers in tight clusters, and the azures place their eggs within bundles of buds.  Young caterpillars bore holes, crawl inside, and eat the interior. Older caterpillars consume entire buds and flowers. When fully mature, a caterpillar typically crawls to the bottom of the plant and forms a chrysalis in leaf litter.  The brownish pupa is highly camouflaged with dried leaves and tree bark.

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 albutterflyatlas@gmail.com.

Sightings in the following counties: Autauga, Baldwin, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chambers , Cherokee, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Conecuh, Covington, Cullman, Dallas, DeKalb, Escambia, Franklin, Hale, Hale , Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lawrence, Lowndes, Macon, Madison, Madison , Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Perry, Perry , Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, Sumter, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Wilcox, Winston

  • Sightings in the past 5 years
  • Sightings in the past 5 - 10 years
  • Sightings more than 10 years ago

High count(s):

  • 85 - Bibb - 6/1/2003
  • 59 - Bibb - 5/22/2010
  • 53 - Franklin - 9/25/2016
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 2 6 25 78 148 207 203 361 125 95 35 62 86 69 44 20 29 18 92 43 14 5 55 1 1

Habitat

In or near deciduous woodlands. Generally inhabits more open areas than other azure species. Reportedly frequents human-inhabited areas more often than Spring Azures do.

Host and Nectar Plants

These host plants have been verified in Alabama: Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), Swamp Dogwood (Cornus stricta), Common Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia), Sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum).  Other plants are probably used as well.

Summer Azures have also been observed ovipositing on Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata), and Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus drummondii) but it is not known whether the larvae were able to survive on these plants.

Many host plants are reported in other areas.

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

Landscaping Ideas

The addition of Flowering Dogwood to the landscape provides caterpillar food for Summer and Spring Azures.  They will also nectar on it tiny "true" flowers. Other landscape-worthy dogwoods such as Swamp Dogwood will feed Summer Azures.