Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly:  Wingspan: 1 to 1½ inches (2.5 - 3.5 cm) The upperwings have a distinctive checkered pattern. The dark brown ground color is checkered with white squares, rectangles, crescents and dots. The male has a dense growth of bluish-white hairs on the dorsum of the body and basal portions of both fore- and hindwings. The Tropical Checkered-Skipper is easily confused with the Common Checkered-skipper.  The Tropical Checkered-Skipper differs from that species in having a white spot beside the hour-glass shaped cell-end white bar. This white spot is lacking in the Common Checkered-Skipper. The forewing also has a marginal row of small white spots that extend all the way to the wing tip.This final, apical spot is lacking in the Common Checkered-Skipper. Wing fringe is less checkered than that of Common/White Checkered-Skipper, especially on forewing, where it is almost continuously dark. The underwing surfaces are lighter in color than those of the upperwings, and consist mostly of light beige, white and tan. The forewings have rows of white squares, rectangles, and dots.  The light beige background color of the hindwing is crossed by wavy bands of both lighter and darker shades of beige to tan. Wavy dark brown lines outline these bands. A distinguishing dark brown spot is found in the middle of the leading margin of the hindwing. This spot is lacking in the Common/White Checkered-Skipper.

Egg: Whitish.

Caterpillar: Light green yellow-green with a darker thin green dorsal stripe, light stripes along the sides, and a black head. Numerous tiny, light-colored hairs cover the body. 

Chrysalis:.Greenish or bright rred-brown.  Abdomen yellowish-green with darker dorsal mid-dosal line. Brown spots behind head.

Adults have a rapid, darting flight, typically close to the ground. Males patrol for females.  Adults feed or perch with their wings outstretched. In Alabama, Tropical Checkered Skippers are often seen flying alongside Common/White Checkered-Skippers.

The Tropical Checkered-Skipper occurs along the Atlantic coastline of South Carolina, throughout southern Georgia and peninsular Florida westward through the Florida panhandle and south Alabama to southeastern Texas; thence southward into Mexico, Baja California, Central America, and into Argentina and the West Indies.

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: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Chambers, Chilton, Choctaw, Clarke, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Cullman, Dale, Dallas, Escambia, Geneva, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jefferson, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Sumter, 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):

  • 35 - Perry - 8/29/2020
  • 25 - Clarke - 8/6/2020
  • 23 - Monroe - 10/22/2020
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
2 4 2 3 9 9 7 5 1 3 1 4 13 1 1 20 31 55 17 27 78 39 24 69 25 23 55 37 48 88 43 44 46 42 43 62 13 3 3


This species is most commonly encountered in open sunny areas, especially disturbed sites, roadsides, pastures, old fields, fallow agricultural lands, and wherever mallows (its host plants) grow.

Host and Nectar Plants

 In nearby states, several mallows (Malva spp.) that include Hollyhock (Althaea rosea), false mallows (Malvastrum spp.), and Velvet Leaf (Abutilon theophrasti) are reported.

The host plant currently documented for Alabama is Cuban Jute/Arrowleaf Sida (Sida rhombifolia), a member of the Mallow family. Other sidas are probably used as well.


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

Tropical Checkered-Skipper
Tropical Checkered-Skipper (Burnsius oileus)
Tropical Checkered-Skipper
Tropical Checkered-Skipper (Burnsius oileus)
© Sara Bright
Tropical Checkered-Skipper
Tropical Checkered-Skipper (Burnsius oileus)
© Sara Bright

Landscaping Ideas

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 Tropical Checkered-Skippers.  Fanpetals, a host plant confirmed in Alabama, is commonly found in many of these yards.