Butterfly: Wingspan: ¾ - 1 inch (1.9 - 2.5 cm). The Least Skipper is a very small skipper. The underside of the hindwing is orange; the forewing (not seen above) is entirely black, or black with orange along the costal margin and in the central portion of the wing. The upperside of the hindwing is golden orange with a broad black border; the forewing is black with an orange tip, costal margin, and border. The abdomen is white underneath, orange along the sides, and with a black mid-dorsal stripe.
Egg: Females lay their shiny yellow eggs on host plant leaves. The eggs become peachy in color and develop a red ring that remains until they hatch.
Caterpillar: The caterpillar is light green with a tan-to-brown, rounded head. The caterpillars feed on leaves. THey initially cut, fold, and silk a small flap under which they hide. As they grow, they enlarge the flap. Finally they construct nests composed of leaves tied together with silk to form a tubular retreat.
Chrysalis: Yellow-ish with dark, blunt head.
The Least Skipper has a feeble flight as it moves slowly through tall grasses in search of females. It is easily identified in flight by it small size and characteristic two-toned wings.
The Least Skipper has been documented in counties from the northernmost to the southernmost parts of the state. It is likely that it will eventually be documented in all Alabama counties. This skipper is also found from Nova Scotia west across southern Canada to Saskatchewan; south through the eastern states to the Gulf coastal states; west toTexas, and southeastern Arizona.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sightings in the following counties: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Bullock, Calhoun, Chambers, Chilton, Choctaw, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Covington, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dale, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Houston, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Lowndes, Macon, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Washington, Wilcox
View county names by moving the mouse over a county or view a map with county names
The Least Skipper prefers wet habitats with tall grasses.This includes swamps, marshes, ponds, sluggish streams, and ditches.
These tiny skippers nectar from a variety of small flowers on plants that grow low to the ground.
In other states, the Least Skipper larvae have been found to feed on various grasses including bluegrasses (Poa spp.), Rice Cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides), Cultivated Rice (Oryza sativa) and Marsh Millet/Giant Cutgrass (Zizaniopsis milliacea).
Rice Cutgrass and Giant Cutgrass have been verified in Alabama.
For more information about these plants, please visit the Alabama Plant Atlas using the links above.
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 Least Skippers.
Click on individual photos to view a larger version that includes photo credits, county, and date.
Photos with comments are indicated by a small, tan dot on the bottom right.