Butterfly: Wingspan: ½ - ¾ inches (1.3 - 1.9 cm). Tiny. The underside of both wings is orange, with a distinctive white line running through the middle of the wing from the base of the hindwing to the outer margin of the wing. The upperside of both wings is mostly orange with the male having a small stigma on the forewing; the female has black along the medial costal margin of the forewing.
Egg: Whitish eggs are laid singly on grasses. Eggs are often positioned on the top side of the blade.
Caterpillar: Caterpillars are light green in color with a darker green middorsal stripe and numerous paler stripes. The head is green. The tail is pointed and red-tipped. These caterpillars are not known to construct a nest of any kind during development.
Chrysalis: The chrysalis is green with a sharp projection protruding from the head.
This very tiny orange butterfly is the smallest skipper in North America. Southern Skipperling has an erratic flight as it skims over and amongst low vegetation and grasses. It often stops to perch on grass blades. Males patrol in the mornings to search for females. Perching males defend their territories and may be seen swirling with other males. Females are less visible and deposit single eggs on the blades of Bermuda Grass. Both sexes nectar from low, small flowers.
The caterpillars' green coloring and horizontal stripes help to camouflage them as they eat grass blades. Unlike most skippers larvae, they do not make leaf shelters during their development.
Where habitats overlap, Southern Skipperlings may sometimes be seen flying along with Least Skippers, a similar, but slightly larger species.
This small skipper is found from North Carolina, south through Florida and east through the Gulf states to Arkansas and Texas; thence south through Mexico to Panama.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sightings in the following counties: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chambers, Choctaw, Cullman, Dallas, Escambia, Etowah, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lee, Macon, Marengo, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, Washington, Winston
View county names by moving the mouse over a county or view a map with county names
The Southern Skipperling may be found in open grassy areas and fields. It may occasionally visit suburban flower gardens.
Bermuda Grass (Cynodon dactylon) is the most commonly mentioned host for Southern Skipperlings, and it has been documented as their host in Alabama.
For more information about these plants, please visit the Alabama Plant Atlas using the links above.
If you have a lawn in your landscape, consider letting it be natural. The diverse assemblage of native and nonnative flowering plants and grasses typically found in naturalized lawns provides nectar and host sources for many small butterflies including Southern Skipperlings.
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.