Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1½ - 1¾ inches (3.3 - 4.4 cm). This is a medium-sized brown skipper that usually perches with its wings spread.  The upperside of the forewing is heavily patterned while the hindwing is not noticeably marked. The outer and upper one-half  (subapical region) of the forewing has a rough circle of about 7 or 8 white, somewhat squarish to rectangular spots.  Just below the lowermost white spot are two dark brown spots bordered with black. The forewing also has two dark brown to black irregular bands, one located in the median region while the other is postbasal. The wing fringe is light brown to whitish-beige. The upperside of the forewing is more strongly patterned in female than in males.  The closely related Juvenal’s Duskywing has a forewing pattern that is not as strongly patterned as that of Horace’s Duskywing. Additionally, Juvenal’s Duskywing is much darker than Horace’s Duskywing, with some specimens being almost black.  Males of Horace’s Duskywing may also be confused with the Wild Indigo Duskywing (E. baptisiae), but E. baptisiae is much smaller.

Egg:  Females lay their eggs on the young leaves of oak tree saplings.  The egg is green at first, but later turns pinkish.

Caterpillar: The mature caterpillar has a light waxy-green coloration. The body is speckled with white and covered with very short hairs.  The head varies in color from red, orange-brown or yellow. The head usually has three orange spots on each side. The caterpillars from the Fall brood form a leaf shelter in which they retreat. This leaf retreat later falls to the ground with other leaves. The mature larvae overwinter in the leaf litter on the forest floor.

Chrysalis: In early spring, the over-wintering larvae form a dark green to brown chrysalis from which the butterflies will emerge during March or April.

Horace's Duskywings bask, puddle, and nectar with their wings spread outward. They often occur in groups as they sip moisture and minerals from damp soil. The species is common and widespread throughout Alabama.

It is a wide-ranging species found from New Hampshire westward across the northern and midwestern states to the Rockies; then, southward to eastern Texas; and eastward across the southern states to Florida. It is largely absent from the Great Plains. 

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, Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Bullock, Butler, Calhoun, Chambers, Chilton, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Cleburne, Coffee, Colbert, Conecuh, Coosa, Covington, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dale, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Etowah, Franklin, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Lowndes, 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

  • 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):

  • 51 - Baldwin - 7/12/2020
  • 31 - Baldwin - 5/20/2021
  • 28 - Bibb - 6/5/2010
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 1 4 8 21 15 44 32 29 24 8 12 35 109 273 208 152 54 125 124 214 119 191 181 177 159 175 75 89 46 28 13 16 5 3


Hoarce's Duskywing preferred habitat is nearly always open, sunny areas near oak woodlands. Males may be found in open fields,dirt roadsides, and utility right-of-ways, where they are usually seen perching near the ground. 

Horace's Duskywing
Horace's Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)
Sunny Road in Oak Woodland
Horace's Duskywing
Horace's Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)
© Sara Bright
Forest opening with nectar sources

Host and Nectar Plants

In nearby states, the larvae reportedly feed on young leaves of Red Oak (Quercus rubra), Scrub Oak (Q. ilicifolia), and Post Oak (Q. stellata).

In Alabama, Water Oak (Quercus nigra) and Sand Live Oak (Quercus geminata) have been documented as host plants. Other oaks are probably used.

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

Horace's Duskywing
Horace's Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)
© Liam Wolff
Water Oak

Landscaping Ideas

Include oaks in your landscape to benefit many butterfly species including Horace's Duskywing.

Provide a variety of garden worthy, nectar-rich flowers to attract butterflies like Horace's Duskywing. These include: Butterfly Milkweed and other milkweeds; Purple Coneflower and other coneflowers; black eyed susans; phloxes; mountain mints; Common Buttonbush; Joe Pye weeds; gayfeathers/blazing stars; Mistflower; ironweeds; asters; and goldenrods.