Butterfly: Wingspan: ½ - 1 inch (1.3 - 2.5 cm). Small. Upperside rusty orange, with dark fringes that are not checkered. Underside brighter orange. Thorax is orange with dark bands.
ID Tip: Tiny, orange butterfly with metallic bands.
Egg: Redish-brown. Unique, pitted turban shape. Eggs are typically laid on the first-year, basal rosettes of host plants.
Caterpillar: Long, wispy-white hairs look back-combed. Older caterpillars chew a distinctive windowpane pattern in host leaves. Partially grown larvae overwinter.
Chrysalis: Larval hairs are included in the formation; looks distinctly hairy. Often attached to the underside of host plant leaves.
Little Metalmarks are reminiscent of small moths: low flying and sedentary, they are easy to overlook. They are partial to yellow, daisy shaped flowers when nectaring, and seldom venture far from their host plants, which are typically found in pitcher plant bogs and pine savannas. Several generations are produced each year, but Little Metalmarks are tightly brooded, so significant gaps may exist between flights.
Caterpillars are peculiar creatures whose wispy white hairs resemble a Mohawk haircut. They chew skeletonized windowpanes into leaves, an eating pattern that is distinctive and easy to spot. Chrysalides are often attached to the underside of host leaves. Larval hairs are included in their formation, resulting in the appearance of unkempt fur balls. Horrid Thistle is often listed as Little Metalmark's host plant, but in the sites they have been found in Alabama, they choose Vanilla Leaf, an odd plant with leathery leaves that exude the scent of vanilla. It forms loose colonies within pinelands, savannas, and pitcher plant bogs. Second year plants produce tall, flowering stalks topped with flat clusters topped with lavender blossoms, but Little Metalmarks prefer young leaves and often choose non-flowering, first year basal rosettes for egg laying.
Little Metalmarks are currently known from only a few locations in Alabama but should be searched for wherever their host plants occur.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sightings in the following counties: Baldwin, Bullock, Covington, Escambia
View county names by moving the mouse over a county or view a map with county names
Pine savannas, pitcher plant bogs, and flatwoods in open, grassy areas.
Horrid Thistle (Cirsium horridulum) is widely reported in nearby states, but Little Metalmarks have not been found to use it in Alabama (although the possibility exists that some populations may).
Vanilla Leaf/ Deer’s Tongue has been documented as a host in Alabama.
For more information about these plants, please visit the Alabama Plant Atlas using the links above.
Click on individual photos to view a larger version that includes photo credits, county, and date.
Photos with comments are indicated by a small, tan dot on the bottom right.