Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 7/8 to 1 1/4 inches (22-32 mm). Underwing surfaces are brown and distinctly two-toned.  The outer half is much lighter brown in color.  There is gray frosting along the outer margin.  There is a short, stubby tail.

ID Tip: Broad ventral hindwing frosting with black spot near tail

Egg: White, flattened disc.  Laid singly on host twigs or buds.

Caterpillar: Green to reddish with white chevrons.

Chrysalis: Mottled brown. The over-wintering stage.

Spring is the season for Henry’s Elfins, and the woods are their habitat.  Sometimes known as “Woodland Elfin,” these butterflies inhabit a variety of wooded habitats, and their host plants vary accordingly.  Those in the Coastal Plain are typically holly-eaters.  In north Alabama, these elfins have been observed using Redbud.  At Oak Mountain State Park, Carolina Buckthorn was finally discovered to be their host.  Wherever they live, Henry’s Elfins spend the majority of their time in trees: perching, ovipositing, and nectaring. Often encountered along woodland paths, males aggressively defend small territories and swirling dogfights with other elfins or an occasional skipper may last for several minutes.

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, Colbert, DeKalb, Escambia, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Monroe, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, Tuscaloosa

  • 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):

  • 10 - Monroe - 3/3/2011
  • 7 - Shelby - 3/30/2014
  • 7 - Shelby - 4/3/2016
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
11 9 23 35 27 20 3 2 5


A variety of habitats including deciduous woodlands, forest edges, shrubby areas, old fields and roadsides.

Host and Nectar Plants

Plants within the Holly family (Aquifoliaceae), Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis), and blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) are reported.

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis), American Holly (Ilex opaca), and Carolina Buckthorn (Frangula caroliniana) have been varified in Alabama.


For more information about the documented host plants and/or nectar plants, please visit the Alabama Plant Atlas using the following links:

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