Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 2¼ - 2¾ inches (5.9 - 7 cm). Male forewing is pointed; upperside is brown with raised patches of dark scales along veins. Underside of both sexes is tan; forewing has a straight submarginal row of 5 spots.

ID Tip: On the undersurface of the forewing, a line pushes outward and forms the shape of knuckles on a closed fist.

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

Caterpillar: Yellow green or brown with narrow yellow stripes, two short red-tipped tails and two reddish horns on the head.  Chews a squared notch into cane leaves, which is typical of the satyrs. Partially-grown caterpillars are the overwintering stage.

Chrysalis: Green pendant typically dangles from cane culm (stem).

Creole Pearly-eyes are shade-loving, crepuscular butterflies that hide within thick undergrowth and often perch head-down on tree trunks. They inhabit canebreaks and other "caney" area since native cane is their only caterpillar host.  In Alabama, Creole and Southern Pearly-eyes share the same habitats and often fly together, but Creoles are typically outnumbered by their Southern Pearly-eye counterparts.  Why they seem to be less numerous is unknown.  Creoles are known for the knuckle-like ripple patterns on their forewings that help to distinguish them from Southern Pearly-eyes.  

Adult Creole Pearly-eyes generally sip from sap flows, carrion, or damp earth; few flowers bloom in their shaded habitats.  Like other satyrs, Creole Pearly-eye caterpillars chew notches in cane blades. Their long thin shape and green or brown coloring provide perfect camouflage within the cane patch.

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, Bullock, Chambers, Cleburne, Colbert, Dallas, DeKalb, Hale, Jackson, Lawrence, Madison, Marengo, Marshall, Monroe, Perry, Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, Sumter, 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):

  • 7 - Hale - 6/5/2006
  • 7 - Bibb - 5/18/2013
  • 6 - Hale - 5/18/2009
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 10 14 5 23 27 14 3 10 1 1 15 10 12 3 2 2 7 6 5 4 2


Moist or wet bottomland woods. Canebreaks.

Host and Nectar Plants

Various canes (Arundenaria spp.) are reported throughout the range and have been confirmed in Alabama.

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

Creole Pearly-Eye
Creole Pearly-Eye (Lethe creola)
© Sara Bright
Cane Flowers

Landscaping Ideas