Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan 1 ¾ to 2 3/8 inches (4.4-6.0 cm). The upperside of both wings has a ground color of dark brown.  The forewings are pointed, with a distinctive band of golden-orange that nearly crosses the central portion of the wing.  The underside of the forewing has a similar golden-orange band as above, while the hindwing has a large silver-white patch in the central area of the wing.  Both wings underneath have frosted lavender margins.

Egg: Females lay a single, green egg on a leaf of the host plant.

Caterpillar: A newly hatched caterpillar cuts a rectangular flap in the edge of the host plant.  It rolls the leaf flap over to form a tube-like retreat and extrudes silken strands to secure the tube structure. The caterpillar then lives within the tube during the daytime and comes out only at night to feed on the host leaves. The caterpillar is very distinctive by having a “wrinkled” yellow-green body with a brown head that bears a pair of false orange eyespots. Older caterpillars may leave their retreat and construct a new shelter by pulling several leaves together to form a larger shelter. They pupate within that shelter..

Chrysalis:  The brown chrysalids from the final fall brood will hibernate through the winter and hatch in the following spring.

Silver-spotted skippers are very rapid fliers. Nectaring adults often take off at astounding speeds. At close range, their fast wingbeats often produce an audible vibrational  sound.

This skipper is very widespread from southern Canada and throughout most of the  U.S. except west Texas and the Great Basin..

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, Barbour, Bibb, Bullock, Calhoun, Cherokee, Choctaw, Clay, Cleburne, Coffee, Colbert, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Macon, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Wilcox, 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 3 14 22 10 43 63 42 37 30 37 15 9 15 19 50 57 54 160 81 64 38 70 33 45 20 11 8 3 3

Habitat

The Silver-spotted Skipper utilizes a wide variety of habitats including open fields, forest edges, disturbed and abandoned suburban lots, utility right-of-ways, dirt and gravel roads, and suburban flower gardens.

Host and Nectar Plants

In Alabama, we have documented that the Silver-spotted Skipper lays its eggs on plants that include Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa), American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens) and the invasive alien plants, Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) and Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis).

 Elsewhere, it has also been known to lay its eggs on American Hogpeanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata), wisterias (Wisteria spp.), Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), tick trefoils (Desmodium spp.), lespedezas (Lespedeza spp.), and Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra).

Silver-spotted Skippers sip nectar from the flowers of plants.

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

Landscaping Ideas

Egg-laying adults may be attracted to host plants such as Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa). Note: Chinese Wisteria and Kudzu are highly invasive, non-native plants that should never be intentionally added to the landscape.

Adults readily nectar at many garden-worthy plants such as: Butterfly Milkweed and other milkweeds; Purple Coneflower and other coneflowers; black eyed susans; phloxes; mountain mints; Joe Pye weeds; gayfeathers/blazing stars; Common Buttonbush; Mistflower; ironweeds; asters; and goldenrods.