Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1¾ - 2½ inches (4.5 - 6.7 cm).  Upperside is brown with dark eyespots. Underside is brown; the row of 4 black spots on forewing is straight and the dark line inside it is curving. Spots are not surrounded by diffuse white. Antennal clubs are black with orange tips.

ID Tip: Antennal clubs are black with orange tips.  Resemble matchsticks.

Egg: Pearly orbs laid singly or in small clusters on host plant leaf.

Caterpillar: Yellow-green with narrow yellow stripes, a dark stripe, two short, red-tipped tails and two reddish horns on the head.   Chews a distinct squared notch into host grass leaves.  Partially grown larvae overwinter and resume development the following spring.

Chrysalis: Green pendant often dangles from host grass blade.

Few butterflies inhabit shady woodlands, but Northern Pearly-eyes have found their niche there.  They avoid strong sunlight and are most active on cloudy days.  They are perfectly at home perched on tree trunks or sipping sap in shade so dense that few flowers could bloom.

Northern Pearly-eyes are often associated with northern forests and are only expected to occur in the northern two-thirds of Alabama.  

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: Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Cleburne, Colbert, Dallas, Dekalb, DeKalb, Etowah, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Madison, Marshall, Monroe, Perry, Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, 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):

  • 26 - Lawrence - 5/6/2021
  • 20 - Jackson - 5/14/2014
  • 20 - Jackson - 7/31/2021
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 4 3 31 59 86 31 48 9 8 9 11 9 14 16 47 5 9 3 23 26 6 1 9 1 4 1


Moist, shady woods, often along stream corridors.

Northern Pearly-Eye
Northern Pearly-Eye (Lethe anthedon)
© Sara Bright
Shady Meadow with Grasses
Northern Pearly-Eye
Northern Pearly-Eye (Lethe anthedon)
© SaraBright
River Oats

Host and Nectar Plants

Broad-leaved grasses including River Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), Silver Plumegrass, Whitegrass, and the invasive alien Japanee Stilt Grass (Microstegium vimenium) are reported in other parts of the range.

No host plant has yet been verified in Alabama.

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