Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan is ½ to ¾ inches (1.3-1.9 cm).This very tiny orange butterfly is the smallest skipper in North America. The underside of both wings is orange, with a distinctive white line running through the middle of the wing from the base of the hindwing to the outer margin of the wing. The upperside of both wings is mostly orange with the male having a small stigma on the forewing; the female has black along the medial costal margin of the forewing.

Egg: The female lays her whitish eggs on leaves of various grasses (Family Poaceae).  The chrysalis is green with a sharp projection protruding from the head..

Caterpillar: The caterpillars are light green in color with a darker green middorsal stripe and numerous paler stripes.  The head is green.  The tail is pointed and red-tipped. The caterpillars are not known to construct a nest of any kind during its development.

Chrysalis: The chrysalis is green with a sharp projection protruding from the head.

Southern Skipperling has a weak, erratic flight as it skims over and amongst low vegetation and grasses. It will often stop to perch on grass blades.  It sometimes may be seen flying along with the Least Skipper, a similar, but slightly larger species.

This tiny skipper is found from North Carolina, south through Florida and east through the Gulf states to Arkansas and Texas; thence south through Mexico to Panama.

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: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Chambers , Choctaw, Dallas, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jefferson, Lee, Macon, Marengo, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Pickens, Pike, Shelby, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Washington, 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
1 1 1 1 29 2 5 5 1 25 5 40 16 7 15 34 9 13 9 1 44 55 20 7 7 18 3 3 1

Habitat

The Southern Skipperling may be found in open grassy areas and fields.  It may occasionally visit suburban flower gardens.

Host and Nectar Plants

We have no documented host plant records for this species in Alabama.

Elsewhere Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) is documented. Other grasses may also be used.

In Alabama, we have observed the Southern Skipperling nectaring from a variety of small meadow flowers, especially  Bitterweed (Helenium amarum). 

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

Landscaping Ideas

If you have a lawn in your landscape, consider letting it be natural.  The diverse assemblage of native and nonnative flowering plants and grasses typically found in naturalized lawns provides nectar and host sources for many small butterflies including Southern Skipperlings.