Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan is 1 5/16 to 1 3/4 inches (3.3 to 4.5 cm). This unique skipper has "blacker" wings than other spread-wing skippers. The hindwing fringes are white and highly contrasted. This distinguishes it from other duskywings in Alabama. (Female Zarucco Duskywings are similar but have buffy-colored fringe on their hindwings.) The forewing is narrow and pointed and has a distinctive brown patch near the center. 

ID Tip: Look for bright white fringe on the hindwings of a dark, spread-wing skipper.

Egg: The egg is pale, creamy yellow and vertically ridged. It is laid singly under the host plant leaf.

Caterpillar: Larvae are pale green with a lateral yellow line on each side. The body is covered with tiny tubercles, each with a short hair. Its head is is light brown with pale orange brown patches. It cuts sections of host plant leaves, rolls them, and lives inside.the tube. Larvae from the final brood overwinter inside their leaf shelter and pupate in the spirng.

Chrysalis: Slender, pale pink, and unmarked.  May be formed in leaf litter.

Home base for Funereal Duskywings is the southwestern United States and Mexico, but they are nomads: for the past several years, they have routinely been spotted throughout the eastern United States—including Alabama.  Since 2014, there have been yearly reports from Baldwin County. In 2018, there were sightings in 4 different counties, ranging from Baldwin all the way to Jackson!  A recent study indicates that Funereal Duskywings probably establish small seasonal breeding colonies as they travel, so ovipositing behavior should be carefully checked for in Alabama.

Funereal Duskywing is the only species in our area with distinctly white hindwing fringes. Although Funereals are very similar to Zarucco Duskywings in appearance, (some sources consider them to be a single species), the white fringe that is present on both males and females sets them apart. Female Zaruccos have light hindwing fringe, but it is buffy rather than white. The Funereal forewing is also narrower than that of similar species.  For this reason, in his monumental book The Butterflies of North America, James Scott calls it the “Streamlined Duskywing.” 

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

  • Sightings in the past 5 years
  • Sightings in the past 5 - 10 years
  • Sightings more than 10 years ago
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 5 1 1 1

Habitat

The Funereal Duskywing is found in a wide variey of habitats including woodland edges, brushy fields, dirt roads, and suburban flower gardens. In the western U.S., it even inhabits deserts. It is a very hardy and adaptable species. Because it is a vagrant in Alabama, it could be found almost anywhere.

Host and Nectar Plants

In Alabama, host plants have not been documented but, if breeding, we expect the Funereal Duskywing to use a legume.  A recent report concludes that these skippers probably establish small seasonal breeding colonies as they travel, so ovipositing behavior should be carefully checked for in Alabama.

Elsewhere, the larvae eat leaves of many species of legumes including New Mexican Locust (Robinia neomexicana), Bur Clover (Medicago hispida), Deerweed (Lotus scoparius), Desert Ironwood (Olneya tesota). indigos (Indigofera spp.), vetches (Vicia spp), and Rattlebush (Sesbania drummondii). Funereal Duskywing is typically a southwestern U. S. species; some of these host plants may not occur in Alabama.  

Funereal Duskywings are avid nectarers and use a variety of flowering plants.

 

 

Landscaping Ideas

Funereal Duskywings have been attracted to gardens as they visit Alabama.   Include nectar-rich plants such as Butterfly Milkweed and other milkweeds, Eastern Purple Coneflower and other coneflowers, black eyed susans, phloxes, mountain mints, Joe Pye weeds, gayfeathers/blazing stars, Common Buttonbush, Blue Mistflower, ironweeds, asters, and goldenrods in your landscape to provide adult energy sources for Funereal Duskywings and many other butterfly species.