Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: ¾ - 1¼ inches (2.2 - 3.2 cm) UPPER SURFACE (dorsal) Seldom seen. Golden or chestnut brown. UNDER SURFACE (ventral) Brown; distinctly two-toned; outer half much lighter brown; some white outlines line of demarcation. Gray frosting along outer margin. Short, stubby tail.

ID Tip: Two-toned brown and chestnut wings with broad ventral hindwing frosting

Egg: White, flattened disc. Covered with tiny pits and bumps. Laid singly on host twigs or buds.

Caterpillar: Color variable: green with pale chevrons; mottled red and green; pinkish; or red with pale chevrons. Head brown. Slug shaped with short hairs.

Chrysalis: Mottled brown; bean shaped. 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 Eastern Redbud. At Oak Mountain State Park, Carolina Buckthorn was finally discovered to be their host. Wherever they live, Henry’s Elfins spend most 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.

Henry's Elfins range throughout much of the eastern United States. In Alabama, they are widespread and are probably more common 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, Choctaw, Colbert, DeKalb, Escambia, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Marshall, Monroe, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, Tuscaloosa, Walker

  • 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):

  • 12 - Shelby - 3/6/2023
  • 10 - Monroe - 3/3/2011
  • 8 - Shelby - 3/14/2020
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
3 24 25 46 74 36 20 3 3 7

Habitat

A variety of habitats including deciduous woodlands, forest edges, coastal forests; bottomlands and swamps, shrubby areas, old fields, pocosins, and roadsides.

Henry's Elfin
Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici)
County
© Sara Bright
Eastern Redbud in deciduous woodland
Henry's Elfin
Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici)
County
© Alvin Diamond/AL Plant Atlas
Yaupon Holly in coastal forest
Henry's Elfin
Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici)
County
© Sara Bright
Carolina Buckthorn on woodland edge

Host and Nectar Plants

Reports from nearby states list hollies (Ilex spp.), Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis), and blueberries (Vaccinium spp.).

The following have been documented in Alabama:

 

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

Henry's Elfin
Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici)
County
© Sara Bright
American Holly flowers
Henry's Elfin
Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici)
County
© Kim Miller
American Holly flowers
Henry's Elfin
Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici)
County
© Alvin Diamond/AL Plant Atlas
American Holly
Henry's Elfin
Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici)
County
© Sara Bright
Carolina Buckthorn
Henry's Elfin
Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici)
County
© Sara Bright
Carolina Buckthorn
Henry's Elfin
Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici)
County
© Sara Bright
Carolina Buckthorn
Henry's Elfin
Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici)
County
© Alvin Diamond/AL Plant Atlas
Yaupon Holly
Henry's Elfin
Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici)
County
© Alvin Diamond/AL Plant Atlas
Yaupon Holly
Henry's Elfin
Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici)
County
© Sara Bright
Eastern Redbud flowers and leaves

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