Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1 - 1 1/2 inches (2.5 - 3.8 cm). The forewing is dark orange and black with a pale cream band. The underside of the hindwing is cream to yellowish; spring and fall butterflies have a gray hindwing.

ID Tip: Look for upper surface pale forewing band. Smaller and brighter than most Pearl Crescents.

Egg Tiny, pale green orbs that are laid in clusters on the underside of host plant leaves.

Caterpillar: Tannish brown with dark brown lines and short, branched spines.  Young caterpillars eat together in groups.  Older caterpillars become solitary.

Chrysalis: Brown, mottled with black and creamy white.

Phaon Crescents are southern butterflies.  Their host plants belong a tropical genus that cannot withstand freezing temperatures.  It Alabama, Phaon Crescents are most commonly encountered in the Coastal Region, although by late summer, they often expand their range into the southern part of the Upper Plains Region in areas where frogfruit is common.  Phaons seldom stray far from frogfruit and should be sought wherever it is found.

Phaon and Pearl Crescents often fly side by side.  Seemingly an identification nightmare, Phaons can be distinguished by the unique creamy band that bolts down the forewings.  These butterflies are exceptionally low fliers, almost never rising more than six inches above the ground.

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: Baldwin, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Mobile, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Washington

  • 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):

  • 100 - Sumter - 9/10/2016
  • 70 - Dallas - 9/30/2017
  • 30 - Baldwin - 7/31/2014
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
4 1 1 1 1 1 14 2 1 13 16 15 5 20 32 6 1 1 2 113 8 71 2 24 10 3 1 1 1


Moist, open low-growth areas. Includes roadside ditches, pond edges, and even damp lawns


Host and Nectar Plants

Frogfruits (Phyla spp.) are widely reported throughout the range and have been documented in Alabama.

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

Landscaping Ideas

Frogfruit, the Phaon Crescent's host plant, is an excellent groundcover and can even be used in place of turf grass within its growing range.  In addition to providing food for caterpillars, its tiny, matchstick flowers attract many species of butterflies to their nectar.