Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1¼ - 1½ inches (3.2 - 3.9 cm) UPPER SIDE (dorsal) Dull brown with a few small pale spots. Male has small stigma. UNDER SIDE (ventral) Chocolate brown with extensive lavender frosting on outer edges. One small white dot on hindwing.

Egg: Hemispherical. When initially deposited, pale yellow; turns peachy. An intense network of pale horizontal and vertical ridges intersects at points to create a dotted effect. Laid singly on host grass blades.

Caterpillar: Pinkish brown with long wispy hairs. Head caramel brown. Collar narrow and black. First three pairs of legs (thoracic) pale. Fully grown caterpillars overwinter.

Chrysalis: Brown. Wing cases lighter brown.  Abdomen light orange with pink tinge.

Dusted Skippers are almost always found in localized colonies that are near patches of bluestem and broomsedge grasses. Sightings are usually scarce, and according to NatureServe, many colonies probably produce only a few dozen adults per year.  Most populations depend on human management to maintain the necessary open, grassy habitat they require.  Periodic controlled burns are essential in some areas, but the use of airports and power-line cuts are also reported.  Small populations are particularly at risk of disappearing due to habitat loss. 

Male Dusted Skippers perch on or close to the ground.  Females fly low through grasses and deposit their eggs on host grass leaves and stems.  These lifestyle traits are one of the reasons that open, grassy areas that often include bare ground or rock are essential.  Dusted Skippers are seldom found where grassy groundcovers are thick. Caterpillars initially draw a grass blade together with silk and rest in the fold.  As they grow, they construct larger leaf shelters.  Final instars move to the base of the grass and form a tubular tunnel by silking together ripened stems. They eventually seal the shelter with silk and overwinter within it, completing development in the spring. Most of the more natural habitats are subject to fire.  If the species persists in that general area, caterpillars must either survive the burn or adults must be good colonists. Since there is no evidence that Dusted Skipper larvae devise subterranean shelters, the latter is probably true.

Dusted Skippers range across most of the eastern and central United States.  In Florida and the barrier island of North Carolina, two separate species (Loammi and Crystal Skipppers) have recently been recognized; they were formerly considered subspecies of Dusted Skipper. In Alabama, Dusted Skippers are primarily known from a few locations in the northeasten part of the state. 

 

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, Calhoun, Cleburne

  • 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):

  • 9 - Cleburne - 5/4/2018
  • 9 - Cleburne - 5/9/2018
  • 8 - Cleburne - 5/10/2020
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 1 24 40 11 1 1 2 1 1

Habitat

Often disturbed areas, especially burned-over areas that are dominated by bluestem grasses. These include old fields, airports, woodland clearings, and power-line cuts .  

 

Dusted Skipper
Dusted Skipper (Atrytonopsis hianna)
Cleburne County
© Paulette Haywood Ogard
Rich woodland with bluestem grasses

Host and Nectar Plants

 Reports from the eastern United States list Little Bluestem Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardi) and other bluestem/broomsedge species (Andropogon spp. and . 

The following have been documented in Alabama:

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

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