Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wing Span: ½ - ¾ inch (1.2 - 2 cm). Tiny. Upperside (dorsal) is coppery brown with dull blue at the bases of both wings. Underside (ventral) of hindwing is coppery brown with white at the base; fringe is mostly white; three or four small dark spots near body; row of black spots with metallic glints at outer margin. Females ae slightly larger and browner than males.

ID Tip: A very tiny, brown-and-gray (not blue) butterfly with white fringes.

Egg: Whitish discs; typically laid on host

Caterpillar: Yellow-green; covered with small whitish tubercles and hairs or darker green with a rosy dorsal stripe and rosy edges

Chrysalis: Light green turning dark before eclosure

A pygmy-blue photographed at Blakely Mud Flatsin 2018 by Collin Stempien was initially identified as an Eastern but was later determined to be a Western Pygmy-Blue, the state’s first known record. In 2023, Howard Horne found Western Pygmy-Blues at multiple sites in Mobile County. At least one site had an established breeding colony. 

Western Pygmy-Blues are the smallest butterflies in North America. Some lepidopterists consider Western and Eastern Pygmy-Blues to be one species, but most separate them due to differences in genitalia. Western Pygmy Blues typically range from the lower half of the western U.S. into much of Mexico, but their populations often spread east and north.

Even though their flight is weak and low, both pygmy-blue species are known to have migratory tendencies. Extremely tiny, brown butterflies should be closely examined to see which pygmy-blue they might be.

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, Mobile

  • 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):

  • 12 - Mobile - 10/30/2023
  • 10 - Mobile - 10/29/2023
  • 2 - Mobile - 11/25/2023
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 1 22 2 1 2

Habitat

Habitat in the westen United States consists of alkaline areas such as deserts, salt marshes, and disturbed areas. In Alabama and in Florida and Louisiana, Western Pygmy-Blues have been found in salt marshes.

Western Pygmy-Blue
Western Pygmy-Blue (Brephidium exilis)
County
© Sara Bright
Salt Marsh with Southern Sea Blite
Western Pygmy-Blue
Western Pygmy-Blue (Brephidium exilis)
County
© Sara Bright
Salt Marsh with Southern Sea Blite
Western Pygmy-Blue
Western Pygmy-Blue (Brephidium exilis)
County
© Sara Bright
Levee at edge of Salt Marsh

Host and Nectar Plants

In the West, the list of known host plants is extensive and includes saltbush, pigweed, horse purslane, and seepweed. In Louisiana, American Glasswort is probably a host. Southern Seablite/Annual Seepweed has been documented in Louisiana and Florida. Both plant species occur in Alabama.

These species have been documented in Alabama:

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

Western Pygmy-Blue
Western Pygmy-Blue (Brephidium exilis)
County
© Sara Bright
Southern Sea Blite