Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan is 1 to 1 3/8 inches (2.5-3.5 cm). The upperside of the forewing in the male is brownish-black except for the black stigma, while the same wing in the female is also brownish-black, but with three or four small translucent spots.  The underside of the male forewing is brownish-black without any markings, while the same wing in the female is brownish with a band of three or four squarish, whitish spots in the upper one-half of the postmedian area.  The upperside of the head and thorax has a yellowish-orange to yellowish-green sheen.

Egg: Females lay their hemispherical eggs singly on leaves of their host plants. Initially the egg is pale green and unmarked. On the second day, it develops an irregular red spot at the top as well as an irregular red band that circles the middle. 

Caterpillar:  The caterpillars are translucent green with numerous, wavy silvery-white dashes. The head on mature caterpillars is tricolored.  It is black in the back and the face is caramel brown with two vertical cream bands. There is a distinctive dark oval spot centered high on the face.

By fourth instar, caterpillars make leaf tents by sealing sedge blades together with silken threads. Third-stage instars hibernate through late fall and winter. In the spring, the caterpillars become mature. The final instar caterpillars form pupae.

Chrysalis: The abdomen of the pupae is whitish green, while the wing cases and thorax are pale yellow green.  The head is pale brown. There is a light frosting of white. The chrysalis is somewhat translucent, which makes it appear blotchy. There is a detached tongue case that is very long; it extends to the fourth abdominal segment. The chrysalis is formed in a silk-lined tube near the host plant's base, where it sits upright.

Like other members of their genus, Euphyes, Dun Skippers are typically found in or near wetlands, although males may avidly seek nectar in higher, drier places,  Late in the day, they perch on vegetation about 2 to 3 feet above the ground where they wait for potential mates to fly by. When perched, their wings are partially open. They will leave their perch to chase away rival males that fly by.  Freshly emerged males also puddle on damp earth. Females tend to prefer shadier habitats near host plants. They have been observed ovipositing in late morning.

This is a wide-ranging skipper, being found from across southern Canada east of the Rockies and south to the Gulf coast and east Texas. Disjunct populations occur in areas of the Rocky Mountains, Pacific Coast, and high plains. It is found throughout Alabama.

 

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, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Crenshaw, Dallas, DeKalb, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lee, Lowndes, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Morgan, Perry, Perry , Pickens, Shelby, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Washington

  • 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
6 1 1 7 14 10 12 10 20 12 7 5 17 9 25 13 20 9 29 5 57 29 30 15 16 15 4 6

Habitat

The Dun Skipper is found in wet places such as  bogs, swamps, marshes, and seepage areas located near deciduous woodlands. 

Host and Nectar Plants

In Alabama, the host plant has not yet been documented.

In other states, Dun Skipper caterpillars are reported to feed on the leaves of a wide variety of sedges (Carex spp.) and Yellow Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus).

 

Landscaping Ideas

Provide a variety of garden worthy, nectar-rich flowers to attract butterflies like the Dun Skipper. These include: Butterfly Milkweed and other milkweeds; Purple Coneflower and other coneflowers; black eyed susans; phloxes; mountain mints; Common Buttonbush; Joe Pye weeds; gayfeathers/blazing stars; Mistflower; ironweeds; asters; and goldenrods.

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 Dun Skippers