Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: With a wingspan up to  2 - 3/8th inches (5.1 -7.9 cm). This is Alabama's largest and most robust skipper. The underside of the black wings shows that the forewing is long and pointed, with two rows of small white spots near the apex and a row of bright yellow spots in the submarginal-marginal regions. The hindwing below is black with a marginal frosting of white, and a bold white spot along the upper margin. The upperside of the hindwing is black with a yellow border. The forewing above has a bright yellow rounded cell spot, and a straight band of submarginal yellow spots near the apex.

Egg:  A female glues her large amber-brown eggs singly on leaves of Yucca.

Caterpillars: The young caterpillars feed on Yucca leaves and construct individual shelters made of silk. The mature caterpillars bore into the crown of the Yucca plant and tunnel downward to feed on the roots. At the point of entry at the crown, they construct a silk tent or "chimney" by tying together two or more leaves with silken threads. The tent projects above the original point of entry into the crown. The caterpillars remain in their Yucca burrow throughout the winter. They pupate in the burrow in late winter or early spring. The mature caterpillar has an orange body and head with a distinctive black band just behind the head. In Alabama, we have observed the silk tent or "chimney" on one of its host plants, Adam's needle (Yucca filamentosa) at Tannehill State Park.

 Chrysalis: The brownish-colored chrysalids are able to move up and down the burrow.

 

.

The adults are not known to nectar or feed on any food source. The specimens that I have observed were flying low and fast near a stand of Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa). They would occasionally land on top of a leaf on some nearby shrub.

Adults appear in early spring. There is only one generation. This large skipper is a resident along the southern portions of North Carolina to California and south to northern Mexico. It is found in the upper two-thirds of the state of Florida.

 

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: Bibb, Cleburne, Jackson, Marion, 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
1 2 8 22 5 7 1 1

Habitat

We have found this skipper to be most common along the banks of lowland streams where Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa) grows. This skipper is rarely seen unless one is specifically looking for it near its host plant.. It does not normally live near human habitations.

 

Host and Nectar Plants

Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa) is the documented host plant in Alabama. While we have not actually observed egg laying on it, we have seen plants with the chimney made by the caterpillars

The adults of the Yucca Giant Skipper are not known to feed.

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

Landscaping Ideas

This skipper is difficult to attract to urban and suburban gardens, although its host plant, Adam's Needle, may grow well.