Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1¾ - 2¼ inches (4.8 - 5.7 cm). Wings are medium brown in color. Ventral forewing has four eyespots; hindwing has six or seven. White-dotted "pupils" are ringed with yellow, brown, and white, creating a bull's-eye effect. Eyespots vary in size. The upper (dorsal) surface has four less defined spots on the hindwing.  The forewing may or may not contain small, indistinct spots.  

ID TIp: Ventral wings contain eyespots with "pupils" that are ringed with yellow, brown, and white, creating a bull's-eye effect.

Egg: Greenish white.  Laid singly on or near host plant.

Caterpillar: Light green with narrow yellow or white stripes, two short red-tipped tails on the rear and two reddish horns on the head. Very slender. Chews distinct squared indentations on host leaf. The caterpillar is the overwintering stage.

Chrysalis: Light green. Slender.

Appalachian Browns live among the sedgy edges of swamps, creek banks, and other wetland areas.  They are virtually always encountered under a shady, closed canopy and within sight of water. This particular niche has only recently been understood, because for many years these butterflies were considered part of another species known as Eyed Browns. In 1947, renowned University of Alabama professor, Ralph L. Chermock, recognized that within this group, a separate, more southern form existed. Full species status was awarded in the 1970s, and the name "Appalachian Brown" was adopted. 

These non-colonial butterflies tend to scatter within their territory.  Only a few individuals are typically encountered  at any one time.  Their nondescript color palette serves them well in their shady haunts. Even though they typically perch on green foliage, they are cryptic and camouflaged among surrounding tree trunks and ground litter.

In Alabama, Appalachian Browns are known from the Mountains/Piedmont and Upper Plains Regions.  However, sightings in Florida indicate that these butterflies should be looked for in the Coastal Region as well.

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: Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Dallas, Elmore, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lowndes, Macon, Marion, Marshall, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Winston

  • 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):

  • 25 - Pickens - 6/30/2018
  • 15 - Perry - 8/28/2022
  • 10 - Perry - 5/1/2016
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 23 2 7 12 11 10 11 28 13 23 9 14 6 7 5 36 20 3 5 1 2


Moist, shaded or semi-shaded woodlands with a good growth of sedges.

Appalachian Brown
Appalachian Brown (Lethe appalachia)
© Sara Bright

Host and Nectar Plants

Various sedges (Carex spp.) are reported throughout the range.

No host plant has yet been verified in Alabama.

Appalachian Brown
Appalachian Brown (Lethe appalachia)
Bibb County
© Sara Bright
Carex spp.
Appalachian Brown
Appalachian Brown (Lethe appalachia)
Bibb County
© Sara Bright
Carex spp.

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