Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: ¾ - 1 inch (2.2 - 2.5 cm) UPPER SURFACE (dorsal) Seldom seen. Brown with rusty scaling. Male with gray stigma. UNDER SURFACE (ventral) Various amounts of bright olive green and rusty brown. Forewing with straight submarginal white band and orange scaling along trailing edge. Small white bars toward base; irregular white band across middle edged with rusty brown. 

ID Tip: Green and rusty brown. Forewing band of white is aligned.

Egg: Light green, flattened disc with raised bumps. Laid singly on host.

Caterpillar: Bright green; bold white dashes. Slug shaped.

Chrysalis: Very dark brown with short hairs; bean shaped. The overwintering stage.

Look for Juniper Hairstreaks wherever stands of red cedar are accompanied by small, nectar-rich flowers. These hairstreaks appear shockingly green when viewed alone but perched on cedar twigs (which they often are), they blend invisibly with its foliage.  They are so difficult to detect that the time-honored method for locating them involves vigorously shaking or tapping cedar tress, causing butterflies to swirl up before re-alighting. Focus on the top of the tallest Eastern Red Cedar in the area to see if male Junipers may be perching and then swirling at its top. 

Juniper Hairstreak caterpillars are remarkably camouflaged on cedar foliage.  Their broken green stripes closely resemble the pattern of scaly cedar sprays.  When development is complete, caterpillars crawl to the bottom of the tree and from chrysalides in the duff (dead, decay-resistant foliage and berries) that remains underneath.  Female butterflies choose only naturally formed, duff rich trees for egg placement.

Juniper Hairstreaks range throughout most of the continental United States.  In Alabama, they are probably more widespread than current records indicate.

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, Blount, Butler, Calhoun, Chambers, Chilton, Choctaw, Colbert, Coosa, Covington, Dallas, DeKalb, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, Sumter, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, 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):

  • 102 - Sumter - 3/19/2019
  • 51 - Dallas - 3/16/2023
  • 22 - Shelby - 8/16/2020
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
27 20 188 82 72 9 9 2 4 3 1 2 13 25 5 5 8 1 13 12 3 58 10 2

Habitat

Open areas that support red cedars. These include roadsides, prairies, granite outcrops, chalk bluffs, cedar glades, dunes, old fields, fence rows, and pastures.

Juniper Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus)
County
© Sara Bright
Chalk bluffs with Eastern Red Cedar
Juniper Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus)
County
© Sara Bright
Field with nectar plants and Eastern Red Cedar
Juniper Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus)
County
© Sara Bright
Granite outcrop

Host and Nectar Plants

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is the sole known host throughout the range.

Eastern Red Cedar has been documented in Alabama.

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

Juniper Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus)
County
© Sara Bright
Eastern Red Cedar with caterpillar and berries
Juniper Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus)
County
© Sara Bright
Heavily berried Eastern Red Cedar

Landscaping Ideas

Tall red cedars near nectar sources may attract Juniper Hairstreaks. Do not limb up your cedar trees since this renders them useless as hairstreak hosts. Research from the University of Florida has shown that female Junipers choose trees with natural shapes for egg placement. These trees have a rich layer of “duff” (decaying organic matter) underneath that shelters and helps protect chrysalides from the elements.

In addition to their cedar host, Juniper Hairstreaks are attracted by small-flowered nectar plants. Favorites include mountain mints (Pycnanthemum spp.) and milkweeds (Asclepias spp.).