Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 2¼ - 2¾ inches (5.6 - 7 cm). The upperside is brown with dark eyespots at the margins. The underside is light brown; the row of 4 spots on the forewing is slightly curved, and the brown line inside this spot row is straight or zigzagged. Spots are encircled by soft white. Antennal clubs are orange.

ID Tip: Orange antennal clubs

Egg: Pearly green orb; laid singly or in small clusters on host plant

Caterpillar: Green or brown with narrow light stripes, two short tails and two reddish horns on green head. Larvae chew distinct squared notches as they eat.  The caterpillar is the overwintering stage.

Chrysalis: Green pendants.  Often dangle from host plant culm (stem).

Canebrakes are home to Southern Pearly-eyes, and they can be expected wherever stands of cane are found. Native Alabama canes are colonial, woody grasses that typically inhabit moist bottomlands within a forest understory. Southern Pearly-eyes seldom leave these shady areas.

Males perch head-down on tree trunks to await females.  These butterflies are most active on cloudy days and at dusk, sometimes flying well after nightfall.  They often share their caney habitats with Creole Pearly-eyes, a sister species, but Southerns are generally more common and more frequently encountered.  Pearly-eye wing patterns are notoriously confusing, but Southern Pearly-eyes' orange antennal clubs are diagnostic.

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: Autauga, Baldwin, Bibb, Chambers, Choctaw, Colbert, Covington, Cullman, Dallas, Elmore, Escambia, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Jackson, Lawrence, Lee, Macon, Madison, Marengo, Monroe, Perry, Pickens, Randolph, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Washington, Winston

  • 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):

  • 14 - Sumter - 9/30/2020
  • 11 - Hale - 5/29/2006
  • 10 - Hale - 6/5/2006
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 5 18 20 18 11 16 35 11 24 13 36 21 12 13 3 5 15 1 15 12 5 12 38 40 9 6 27 19 9 12 6 5 1


Moist or wet bottomland woods. Canebreaks.

Host and Nectar Plants

Canes (Arundenaria spp.) are reported througout the range and have been verified in Alabama.


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

Southern Pearly-Eye
Southern Pearly-Eye (Lethe portlandia)
© Sara Bright
Cane Flowers

Landscaping Ideas