Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly:  Wingspan is 1 ¼ to 1 ¾ inches (3.2-4.4 cm). The sexes have the same basic color pattern; however, the male is overall much darker and distinguishing features are more difficult to determine. The ground color is brown and overlain with black, buff and cream colors.  The complex pattern is seen in the accompanying image. The distinguishing features are seen in the upperwing surface of the forewing in the row of submarginal to postmedian white, translucent spots.  In the female, the spots are larger and more obvious. Females usually have 8 to 10 of these spots, with the uppermost ones being more conspicuous. In males, the lowermost spots may be obscured by white hairs. Therefore, males may have only 6 or 7 spots visible.  In addition, there is usually another white spot near the middle of the forewing, at the end of the cell.  The hindwing above has two rows of cream colored spots. On the underside of the hindwing is an important distinguishing character: two light spots along the costal margin. These spots are lacking on the very similar Horace’s Duskywing. The wing fringes are light gray to buff colored.

Egg: .Females lay their eggs singly on host leaves (various species of oak trees). The eggs are green with numerous, whitish, longitudinal ridges. The eggs turn pink with age.

Caterpillar:   The caterpillar is greenish with a pale yellow lateral stripe. The body is covered with tiny white dots.  The head is brown with three yellow-orange patches on each side. The caterpillars develop rather slowly compared to most other butterflies.  They do not complete their growth until fall, during which time they hibernate for the winter within a tubular retreat formed of rolled leaves and tied together with silk strands. They do not pupate until the early spring.

Chrysalis: The chrysalis is dark green or brown.

Males perch around woodland openings or edges on bare twigs about 3-12 feet above the ground as they wait for females. They are highly territorial and aggressive and will fly out from their perch to engage various insects who happen to fly by. They often will even chase away larger animals, including humans.  After the encounter, they will return to their perch. These butterflies have a quick, low flight. When they perch, they do so with their wings fully spread.  However, when they roost, they grasp a twig and fold their wings and antennae backward like those of a moth.

This species has only one brood per year in Alabama. It appears in early March and flies through May. It has been found from the northernmost counties throughout Alabama to the southermost counties. It is likely to occur in every county. Elsewhere, Juvenal’s Duskywing ranges  from Manitoba across southern Canada to Nova Scotia, southward throughout most of the eastern U. S. and west to the Dakotas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Texas. 

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, Bibb, Calhoun, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Covington, DeKalb, Escambia, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Macon, Marion, Marshall, Monroe, Perry, Randolph, Shelby, Sumter, Tuscaloosa

  • 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
71 109 153 601 628 338 193 21 14 11 5 1 1

Habitat

Habitat includes any open area near oak woodlands such as forest edges, utility right-of-ways, clearings, dirt roads and trails, and woodland stream edges. Small numbers of Juvenal’s Duskywings are often seen sipping moisture and minerals from damp soil along dirt roadsides

Host and Nectar Plants

Host plants have not been documented for Alabama.

In nearby states, the larvae are known to feed on the leaves of various species of oak trees including White Oak (Quercus alba), Black Oak (Q. velutina), Post Oak (Q. stellata), Blackjack Oak (Q. marilandica), and Water oak (Q. nigra).O

This skipper is known to nectar on a wide variety of early spring flowers.

 

 

 

 

Landscaping Ideas

Planting spring blooming plants like Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis), blueberries (Vaccinium spp), hawthorns (Crataegus spp.), and wild plums (Prunus spp.) provides nectar for spring flying butterflies like Juvenal's Duskywings. Make sure to look for this species in early spring (March to April).