Butterfly: Wingspan: 1¾ to 2¼ inches (4.4 - 6.0 cm). The upperside of both wings has a ground color of dark brown. The forewings are pointed, with a distinctive band of golden-orange that nearly crosses the central portion of the wing. The underside of the forewing has a similar golden-orange band as above, while the hindwing has a large silver-white patch in the central area of the wing. Both wings underneath have frosted lavender margins.
Egg: Females typically lay a single, pale egg on a leaf of the host plant. Many field guides describe Silver-spotted Skipper eggs as green, but they often appear to be white. Reddish eggs have also been observed. (See photos below.)
Caterpillar: A newly hatched caterpillar cuts a rectangular flap in the edge of the host plant. It rolls the leaf flap over to form a tube-like retreat and extrudes silken strands to secure the tube structure. The caterpillar then lives within the tube during the daytime and comes out only at night to feed on the host leaves. The caterpillar is very distinctive by having a “wrinkled” yellow-green body with a brown head that bears a pair of false orange eyespots. Older caterpillars may leave their retreat and construct a new shelter by pulling several leaves together to form a larger shelter. They may pupate within the shelter or go down into the leaf litter.
Chrysalis: Chrysalids from the final fall brood hibernate through the winter; adults emerge the following spring.
Silver-spotted Skippers are very rapid fliers. Nectaring adults often take off at astounding speeds. At close range, their fast wingbeats often produce an audible vibrational sound.
This skipper species is very widespread, ranging from southern Canada and throughout most of the U.S. except west Texas and the Great Basin..
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, Bullock, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Cleburne, Coffee, Colbert, Coosa, Covington, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dale, Dallas, Dekalb, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Macon, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Washington, Wilcox, Winston
View county names by moving the mouse over a county or view a map with county names
The Silver-spotted Skipper utilizes a wide variety of habitats including open fields, forest edges, disturbed and abandoned suburban lots, utility right-of-ways, dirt and gravel roads, and suburban flower gardens.
In Alabama, we have documented that the Silver-spotted Skipper lays its eggs on Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa), American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), American Hogpeanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata, and the invasive alien plants, Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) and Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis).
Elsewhere, it has also been known to lay its eggs on Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), tick trefoils (Desmodium spp.), lespedezas (Lespedeza spp.), and Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra).
Silver-spotted Skippers sip nectar from the flowers of many plants.
For more information about these plants, please visit the Alabama Plant Atlas using the links above.
Egg-laying adults may be attracted to host plants such as Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and False Indigo (Amorpha fruticosa). Note: Chinese Wisteria and Kudzu are highly invasive, non-native plants that should never be intentionally added to the landscape.
Adults readily nectar at many garden-worthy plants such as: Butterfly Milkweed and other milkweeds; Purple Coneflower and other coneflowers; black eyed susans; phloxes; mountain mints; Joe Pye weeds; gayfeathers/blazing stars; Common Buttonbush; Mistflower; ironweeds; asters; and goldenrods.
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.