Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: ¾ - 1¼ inch (2.2 - 3.1 cm). UPPER SURFACE (dorsal) Dark reddish brown with greenish yellow flecks at forewing base. Pale "wrist bracelet" near forewing tip; a few white midwing spots. Male stigma inconspicuous. UNDER SURFACE (ventral) Brown or grayish brown with a heavy dusting of yellow green flecks ('pepper and salt"). Both wings contain white spot bands. Brown and white checkered wing fringes.

Egg: Light green, hemispherical-shaped. Eggs turn whiter with time.

Caterpillar: Pale green to grayish green with heavy white frosting; dark green line down back. Head light tan with rusty brown triangle in center of face and two rusty-brown stripes on edges of head. Collar black. First three pairs of legs (thoracic) pale. Mature caterpillars overwinter.

Chrysalis: Light yellow beige with tinge of green, especially on wing cases. Proboscis case orange beyond wing cases.

Pepper and Salt Skippers are small, spring-flying butterflies that are single-brooded thoughout their range. They belong to the genus called roadside-skippers (Amblyscirtes) even though that designation is not typically included in their common name. 

Pepper and Salt Skippers nectar from a variety of spring flowers.  They also sip moisture and nutrients from damp soil. Males perch on grass stems within two feet of the ground to look for mates. Females lay eggs singly on host grasses. Caterpillars construct a shelter by rolling a grass blade (or two) into a tube held together with silk threads and suspended from a grass blade. At maturity, the caterpillar silks itself into the tube, clips it from the plant, and attaches it to a secure location on the ground. Using tooth-like structures near its mouth, the caterpillar pulls itself and the leaf tube to a satisfactory location and lightly silks the leaf in place. It pupates, head up, within the shelter. Fully mature caterpillars overwinter within the shelter, pupating and emerging the following spring. 

Pepper and Salat Skippers range over most of the eastern United States, excluding much of Florida.  In Alabama they are known from the upper two-thirds of the state, but probably also occur in the Coastal Plain.

**THIS SPECIES IS CURRENTLY UNDERGOING TAXONOMIC REVISION**

 

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: Bibb, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, DeKalb, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Madison, Marshall, Perry, 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):

  • 23 - Lawrence - 5/6/2021
  • 14 - Lawrence - 5/11/2022
  • 12 - Lawrence - 5/15/2019
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
16 52 37 37 35 22 53 84 29 9 1 1 1 3

Habitat

Rich, open woodlands; woodland edges; open areas near streams and wetlands.

Pepper and Salt Skipper
Pepper and Salt Skipper (Amblyscirtes hegon)
County
© Paulette Haywood Ogard
Woodland streambank
Pepper and Salt Skipper
Pepper and Salt Skipper (Amblyscirtes hegon)
County
© Sara Bright
Woodland meadow
Pepper and Salt Skipper
Pepper and Salt Skipper (Amblyscirtes hegon)
County
© Sara Bright
Rich woodland roadside

Host and Nectar Plants

Reports from nearby states list various grasses including Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis), indian grasses (Sorghastrum spp.), Fowl Mannagrass (Glyceria striata), Bearded Shorthusk (Brachyelytrum errectum), and River Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium).

In Alabama, no host has been documented.

 

Landscaping Ideas

If Pepper and Salt Skippers are in the area, providing an array of small, spring-flowering native wildflowers may draw these small skippers into your yard.