Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1 - 1½ inches (2.86 - 3.5 cm) UPPER SURFACE (dorsal) Dark brown with pale marks on both wings. Male stigma inconspicuous. UNDER SURFACE (ventral) Golden brown with light veins; series of pale marks on both wings. Fringes faintly checkered.

Egg: Dome shaped. Creamy white, unmarked.

Caterpillar: Whitish with faint dark line on back.  Head light with wide black line around outer edges and large black triangle on face. Collar black. First three pairs of legs (thoracic) pale. Mature caterpillars overwinter.

Chrysalis: Head, thorax, wing case, and proboscis tube are tan; abdomen much paler.

The Reversed Roadside-Skipper is an example of a butterfly species whose host plant is common and widespread, while it is not. Loss of specialized wetland habitats is cause for concern when considering its population dynamics. The open, caney wetlands that it requires have often fallen victim to draining, development, spraying, and unchecked succession.  These wetlands are typically fire-dependent, so it is no coincidence that one of Alabama's known RRS sites is at Splinter Hill Bog, which the Nature Conservancy manages with periodic, planned, rotating burns.

Reversed Roadside-Skippers are typical of the roadside-skipper genus (Amblyscirtes). Like the others, they are multi-brooded: in our area; there are probably three flights.  Eggs are laid singly on cane leaves, and caterpillars make aerial nests by rolling leaf blades into tubes.  At maturity, the caterpillar silks itself into the tube, clips it from the plant, 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.  Both sexes nectar from small flowers.  It is possible that adults may be somewhat crepuscular, which could contribute to the extremely low number of sightings.

The Reversed Roadside-Skipper was established as a species in the 1973. For many years, it had been classified as a different color form of the Carolina Roadside-Skipper (a species that has not been documented in Alabama). The original describer noted that he had a skipper whose hindwing background was dark with light markings while the Carolina R-S had a lighter background with dark markings.  He dubbed the new species Amblyscirtes reversa or "Reversed" Roadside-Skipper.

These skippers are localized and rarely encountered throughout their range.  There are disjunct populations in Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia as well as the Gulf Coast states of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. The NatureServe Global Conservation Status Rank is G3 (Vulnerable). 

* Although we do not have access to specific dates and numbers, Marc Minno discovered a few colonies of Reversed Roadside-Skippers in Baldwin County in 2001 (Rare, Declining, and Poorly Known Butterflies and Moths of Forests and Woodlands in the Eastern United States, 2011).

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, Cherokee, DeKalb, Escambia, Lawrence

  • 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):

  • 3 - Baldwin - 6/1/2022
  • 2 - Baldwin - 8/15/2022
  • 2 - Baldwin - 6/21/2023
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
1 1 1 2 6 1 3 2 1 2 1 1

Habitat

Sunny open wetlands with pinetrees; pine savannas, flatwoods, ditches, edges of boggy wetlands and swamps that contain cane. These habitats are often fire-dependant. 

Reversed Roadside-Skipper
Reversed Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes reversa)
County
© Sara Bright
Open boggy area

Host and Nectar Plants

Switch Cane is the reported host in nearby states and has been documented in Alabama. Other canes may also be used.

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

Reversed Roadside-Skipper
Reversed Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes reversa)
County
© Sara Bright
Switch Cane

Landscaping Ideas

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