Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1½ - 1¾ inches (3.8 - 4.4 cm). The upperside of both wings has a ground color of dark brown.  The central portion of the forewing is crossed by a band formed by 4 or 5 translucent, squarish, golden spots. The outer margin of the hindwing is checkered, but mainly white. The underside of the hindwing has a very diagnostic color pattern: it is banded with black and brown at the base while the outer one-half of the wing is heavily frosted (hoary) with white.This distinguishes it from the simiilar Silver-spotted Skipper.

Egg:  Off-white.  Laid singly on leaflets of host plant, usually a legume.

Caterpillar: Yellow-green with blue dorsal stripe and thin orange lateral stripe. Body profusely covered with minute yellow speckles. Head black with no facial spots.

Chrysalis: Brown. Mid-section lighter with two dark stripes. 

Male Hoary Edges perch along the edges of sunny woodland roads or in forest openings.  They usually perch on bare ground, or on a twig or leaf about three to six feet off the ground. They readily sip moisture and minerals from damp soil. Hoary Edges are territorial and readily chase away any intruding insect, but immediately return to their home-base perch. They have a very rapid flight.

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: Baldwin, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Coosa, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Franklin, Hale, Henry, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lawrence, Lee, Madison, Marshall, Monroe, Perry, Randolph, Russell, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Washington, 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):

  • 82 - Cleburne - 8/2/2021
  • 51 - Cleburne - 5/14/2019
  • 51 - Cleburne - 7/16/2020
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
7 4 16 36 66 118 236 101 47 56 3 17 34 68 138 164 121 89 29 39 6 7 3 1 2 1


Sunny woodland roads or in forest openings.  They seem to prefer oak or pine woods with sandy soil. They may also be found along dirt roads that run through wooded areas. 

Hoary Edge
Hoary Edge (Thorybes lyciades)
© Sara Bright
Tick Trefoil lining a dirt road

Host and Nectar Plants

In nearby states, the larvae are reported to feed on the leaves of several species in the pea family (Fabaceae) which include lespedezas (Lespedeza spp.), tick trefoils (Desmodium spp.), and Wild Indigo (Baptisia tinctoria).

In Alabama, Spiked Hoary Pea (Tephrosia spicata) and tick trefoils (Desmodium spp.) have been documented.



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

Hoary Edge
Hoary Edge (Thorybes lyciades)
© Sara Bright
Hoary Edge
Hoary Edge (Thorybes lyciades)
© Sara Bright
Tick Trefoil

Landscaping Ideas

Provide a variety of garden worthy, nectar-rich flowers to attract butterflies like the Hoary Edge. These include: Butterfly Milkweed and other milkweeds; Purple Coneflower and other coneflowers; black eyed susans; phloxes; mountain mints; Common Buttonbush; Joe Pye weeds; gayfeathers/blazing stars; Mistflower; ironweeds; asters; and goldenrods.