Butterfly: Wingspan: 1 - 1¼ inches (2.2 - 3.2 cm). Under surfaces of wings are various shades of brown, including rich mahogany. Outer portions are lighter. Upper surfaces are also brown. Males have a dark stigma patch on the forewing. There are no tails.
ID Tip: Small and plain; no frosting or tails.
Egg: Whitish, flattened disc shape. Usually tucked into buds of host.
Caterpillar: Yellow green with pale yellow dashes and a yellow lateral stripe.
Chrysalis: Brown and pellet-shaped. Generally rests in the leaf litter. The chrysalis is the overwintering stage.
Brown Elfins are Alabama’s plainest elfins—not tails or frostings decorate the wings. They have only a brief spring flight and seldom wander far from their hosts. They generally stay close to the ground and nectar from a variety of small, spring-blooming flowers.
In 2009, Brown Elfins' known range extended only into north Georgia, and one historic record placed them in north Alabama: it was shocking news when they were discovered in Florida's Panhandle, roughly 200 miles further south. Wayne Barger and Brian Holt found and documented Brown Elfins in Alabama's Red Hills in 2012. Vitaly Charny found a population at Tannehill State Park shortly after.
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 email@example.com.
Sightings in the following counties: Bibb, Colbert, Lawrence, Monroe
View county names by moving the mouse over a county or view a map with county names
Plants in the Heath family are reported in various parts of Brown Elfin's range including blueberries (Vaccineum spp.), huckleberries (Gaylussacia spp.), Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), and Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens).
In Alabama, Mountain Laurel is the only documented host.
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.