Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1¼ - 1½ inches (2.8 - 4.1 cm).  UPPER SURFACE (dorsal) Dark brown. Forewing has gray scaling toward outer edge and two chain-like black bands. No glassy (hyaline) spots. Hingwing has two rows of small, pale spots. Males darker and less patterned than females. UNDER SURFACE (ventral) Dark brown with two rows of pale dots on hindwing.  Outer wing fringe is brown. 

Egg: Creamy white when laid; turns pale orange. A sphere with numerous longitudinal ridges. Laid on or near new growth.

Caterpillar: Light green or blue/green (brown in fall) with a yellow lateral stripe. Body covered with short hairs and minute white tubercles. Head is brown with small points at top; . Mature caterpillars overwinter.

Chrysalis: Varies in color from dark green to brown. 

Sleepy Duskywing is one of the earliest flying skippers in Alabama.  It, along with the more common Juvenal's Duskywing, is on the wing in February, but Sleepys only fly through March and April.  Distinguishing the two duskywings can be difficult. One clue is that Sleepy Duskywings lack the white spots that are easily seen on Juvenal's forewings. In fact, "Sleepy" may refer to its “closed eyes” --the absence of the stack of white dots at the forewing “wrist” of Juvenal's Duskywing.

Sleepy Duskywings tend to choose dry oak woodlands as their homes. Their flight is rapid and bouncing. When resting, perching, or nectaring, their wings are open.  Males perch on twigs and dart out to investigate anything that flies, usually returning to the same twig. They congregate to sip moisture and nutrients from damp soil, although in large puddle clubs, there are usually more Juvenal's Duskywings than Sleepys.

Female lay their eggs on or near the new growth of several oak species, typically scrub oaks.  Caterpillars live within a shelter they construct by tying leaves together with silk. They develop slowly.  Growth is not complete until fall when they quit eating and turn light brown.  These final instars construct a shelter in a leaf that eventually falls from the tree, and the caterpillars spend the winter in the leaf litter on the ground. Pupation occurs in early spring.

 This widespread skipper is found throughout most of the U.S. and ranges into northeastern Canada. Although records in southern Alabama are sparse, Sleepy Duskywings should occur in the appropriate habitats. 

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: Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, DeKalb, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Marshall, Monroe, Perry, Randolph, Shelby, 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):

  • 36 - Bibb - 3/17/2019
  • 18 - Shelby - 3/24/2012
  • 16 - Bibb - 3/15/2019
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 3 10 98 128 63 39 12 1 1

Habitat

Scrub oak communities, dry oak woodlands, sandhills, dry flatwoods, uplands.

Sleepy Duskywing
Sleepy Duskywing (Erynnis brizo)
County
© Paulette Haywood Ogard
Path through scrub oak woodland
Sleepy Duskywing
Sleepy Duskywing (Erynnis brizo)
County
© Sara Bright
Dry oak woodland
Sleepy Duskywing
Sleepy Duskywing (Erynnis brizo)
County
© Sara Bright
Dry oak woodland

Host and Nectar Plants

Reports from Atlantic coastal states list Bear Oak (Quercus ilicifolia) and other shrubby oaks.  Reports from Florida list Chapman's Oak (Quercus chapmanii), Scrub Oak (Quercus inopina), Turkey Oak (Quercus laevis), and Myrtle Oak (Quercus myrtifolia).

In Alabama, host plants have not yet been documented.

 

Landscaping Ideas

Planting Eastern Redbuds (Cercis canadensis), blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), and native plums (Prunus spp.) provides nectar for spring-flying butterflies like Sleepy Duskywings.

Adding various oak species to the landscape benefits many species of butterflies as well as other wildlife.