Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1 - 1¼ inches (2.5 - 3.3 cm). This is a relatively small skipper. Upperside is glossy black with small white spots on outer third of forewing. The female has more white spots on the forewing than the male, and a submarginal row of spots on the hindwing. Underside of forewing repeats the upperside; hindwing is solid black.

Egg: Reddish-tan.  Laid singly.

Caterpillar: Pale green with light flecks. Black head with short hairs. 

Chrysalis: Light brown to dark brown with whitish, powdery substance over much of the body. Hairy except for wing case.

Common Sootywings bask with their wings spread open. Males patrol in sunny places, near the ground, to find unmated females.

This skipper is distributed mainly in the central U.S. In optimal years, it occasionally strays into northern states and southern Canada. In Alabama, it is generally found only in the northern one-half of the state.   


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: Blount, Cleburne, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Jackson, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Marshall

  • Map Symbol for Recent Sightings Sightings in the past 5 years
  • Map Symbol for Semi-Recent Sightings Sightings in the past 5 - 10 years
  • Map Symbol for Old Sightings Sightings more than 10 years ago

High count(s):

  • 7 - Jackson - 7/24/2017
  • 3 - Blount - 8/11/2020
  • 3 - Marshall - 4/5/2021
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 2 3 8 7 10 3 7 1


The Common Sootywing is usually found flying and nectaring near its host plants, which are often found in weedy meadows, construction sites, landfills, gardens, farm fields, abandoned lots, freshly plowed fields, and dumps.



Common Sootywing
Common Sootywing (Pholisora catullus)
© Paulette Ogard
Field with Smooth Pigweed growing on edges

Host and Nectar Plants

In nearby states the larvae reportedly feed on Common Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album), amaranths (Amaranthus spp.) and celosias (Celosia ssp.).

These hosts have been documented in Alabama:.

For more information about these plants, please visit the Alabama Plant Atlas using the links above.

Common Sootywing
Common Sootywing (Pholisora catullus)
© Sara Bright
Lamb's Quarters

Landscaping Ideas

Common Sootywings are sometimes seen in suburban landscapes. If you have a lawn, 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 Common Sootywings.