Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1½ - 2 inches (3.8 - 4.8 cm). UPPER SURFACE (dorsal) is brown with several whitish hyaline (glassy) spots on the forewing's outer half. These spots are highly variable in size but are aligned with the exception of the bottom spot on the outer row . It is offset.  Checkered wing fringe is buffy. Hindwing is slightly tapered toward the bottom.  UNDER SURFACE (ventral) is brown with two parallel dark brown bands crossing the central portion of the hindwing. Hindwing outer margin is frosted. Palps ("face") are pale.  White rim completely encircles the eye. Antennal clubs are solid brown.

Egg: A pale, partial sphere that may appear greenish or white with vertical ridges and many faint cross-striations.  Laid singly on host leaf, often on the underside.

Caterpillar: Pale green in early instars. Later instars light brown with a pale-yellow stripe running along each side and a faint brown stripe running the top length of the body.  Body covered with short hairs, many of which originate in tiny cream-colored bumps. Head dark brown, deeply cleft, and covered with very short yellowish hairs. Lacks facial spots. Collar dark brown.  Front three pairs of legs (thoracic) are dark brown. Mature caterpillars over-winter.

Chrysalis: Probably brown or greenish brown with lighter wing cases

Perhaps a better name for Confused Cloudywing would be "Confusing" Cloudywing since it is not the butterfly that is confused but the people who try to ID it! Confused Cloudywing is a medium-sized brown skipper best known as the most puzzling of a trio of very similar species that present an identification nightmare: Southern, Northern, and Confused Cloudywing.  Although differences do exist, the issue is complicated by the fact that there are significant individual and seasonal variations within each species. Confused Cloudywing's glassy forewing spots are a big part of the problem, varying from very prominent on some individuals to highly reduced on others.  All three species occur in similar habitats and often fly together, although Confuseds are almost always in the minority. For more specific information about how to identify Confused Cloudywing, click on the "Get Identification Help" link above.

Because it is so rarely identified, life history details are scant. Males gather at dirt roads and stream banks to gather nutrients from damp soil.  Females deposit single eggs on a chosen host plant, usually on the underside of a legume leaf. Caterpillars construct a leaf shelter by silking host leaves together.

Confused Cloudywing populations are based in the southern United States, pushing north as far as Virginia and southern Pennsylvania as the year progresses. This species is uncommon but almost certainly overlooked in Alabama.

 

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 albutterflyatlas@gmail.com.

Sightings in the following counties: Baldwin, Bibb, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Coosa, Dallas, Hale, Jefferson, Lamar, Perry, Shelby, Sumter, Tallapoosa, 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):

  • 5 - Cleburne - 7/16/2020
  • 4 - Bibb - 7/10/2016
  • 3 - Bibb - 7/20/2014
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
1 2 2 3 1 5 3 3 3 3 3 10 15 6 6 4 2

Habitat

Forest edges, disturbed sites, utility line right-of-ways, roadsides, old fields, suburban flower gardens, dry meadows, and burned-over open areas. May accept even drier habitats than the other cloudying species.

Confused Cloudywing
Confused Cloudywing (Thorybes confusis)
County
© Sara Bright
Old field/Forest edge
Confused Cloudywing
Confused Cloudywing (Thorybes confusis)
County
© Paulette Haywood Ogard
Powerline cut
Confused Cloudywing
Confused Cloudywing (Thorybes confusis)
County
© Sara Bright
Disturbed area
Confused Cloudywing
Confused Cloudywing (Thorybes confusis)
County
© Sara Bright
Powerline cut

Host and Nectar Plants

Reports from nearby states list espedezas (Lespedeza spp.) and Florida Hoarypea (Tephrosia florida).

In Alabama, host plants have not yet been documented.

 

 

Landscaping Ideas

Providing a variety of garden worthy, nectar-rich flowers may attract Confused Cloudywings if they are in the vicinity of your garden. Many skippers usually nectar from pink, blue, purple, or white flowers.  Good choices include Purple Coneflower and other coneflowers, phloxes, mountain mints, Common Buttonbush, Joe Pye weeds, gayfeathers/blazing stars, Mistflower, ironweeds, and asters.