Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan .9--1.1 inches (2.3-2.8 cm). Upperside forewings are orange with black spots and dark margins.  Hindwing is gray brown with an orange band along the outer margin that contains a row of black spots. The female is similar but usually larger and her spots are larger in the forewing.  Underside is light gray with small black spots and a red-orange line in the outer hindwing.

ID Tip: Ventral forewings are orange and gray with dark spots.  Hindwings are gray with dark spots and a thin, jagged orange border.

Egg: Disc-shaped.  Deposited singly on host plant.

Caterpillar: Bright green with short white hairs. May be tinged with red or solid red. Highly camouflaged with host plant. Young larvae eat holes into the underside of host plant leaves; older caterpillars chew a distinct channel pattern along the leaf's surface.

Chrysalis: Green or brown, spotted with black. Generally hidden within a leafy structure that caterpillars silk together.

American Coppers have been documented in Alabama's northeast corner.  Typically more northern butterflies, Alabama represents the southernmost part of their range. Although desirable habitat seems to be abundant, this species tends to be localized, colonial, and absent from many potentially suitable sites. Few life history facts are known for Alabama, including the life stage that overwinters.

Male American Coppers are notoriously aggressive in their pursuit of females.  They are single-minded in their desire to mate, settling down only to briefly nectar at small flowers.  Eternal optimists, they dart from low plant perches to check out any moving object to see if it might be a female. Distinguished lepidopterist Alexander Klots reports that one little guy even buzzed an airplane.

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 High Count information shows the highest numbers recorded for this species as well as when and where they occurred.

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

Sightings in the following counties: DeKalb, Jackson, Marshall

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

High count(s):

  • 1 - DeKalb - 5/13/2017
  • 1 - Jackson - 5/25/2017
  • 1 - Jackson - 5/27/2017
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
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Open, disturbed areas that include pastures and fields.

American Copper
American Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)
Jackson County
© Sara Bright 6/14/2014

Host and Nectar Plants

Members of the Buckthorn family (Polygonnaceae), especially sorrels (Rumex spp.) are reported.

No host plant has been verified in Alabama although Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella)  is strongly suspected.

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