Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1 - 1¼ inches (2.5 - 3.8 cm). This skipper is light brown above and fresh individuals have an iridescent  lavender sheen, especially on the forewing. The open (dorsal) wing surfaces are strongly mottled with dark blotches. Glassy spots are present in outer one-half of forewing. The wing fringes are brown.

Egg: When first deposited, the eggs are pale green, but quickly turn pink.

Caterpillar: The larvae are pale green and covered with short hairs and white speckles. The head has small patches of red, orange, or yellow.

Chrysalis: Varies from dark green to brown. Reportedly formed in leaf litter.  Second brood chrysalises remain in leaf litter until spring.

Mottled Duskywings are known from only a few locations in Alabama. According to NatureServe (a network of biodiversity scientists), Mottled Duskywings are rare, declining, or eradicated throughout their eastern range.  These skippers are dependent on habitats that support their only known host plant, New Jersey Tea, a small shrub in the Buckthorn family.  While this plant is widespread in Alabama, the butterflies do not appear to be.  Some lepidopterists believe that multiple patches of the host plant are required within an area that covers at least 250 acres. 

Mottleds emerge a little later than other spring-flying duskywings.  They are double-brooded, although the first brood may be larger than the second. Males are often seen perched, with wings widespread, on limbs and twigs growing close to the ground. They also sip moisture and minerals from damp soil. 

The Mottled Duskywing is found from southern New England west to Ontario, Minnesota, Wyoming and Colorado; thence southward to Texas and eastward along the Gulf coastal states to Georgia. They are more common in the western part of their range.

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, Clay, Cleburne, DeKalb, Monroe

  • 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):

  • 5 - Cleburne - 4/21/2010
  • 2 - DeKalb - 8/8/2010
  • 2 - Cleburne - 4/17/2019
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
2 1 8 1 2 2 2


This skipper is found in wooded uplands, forest edges,and rocky outcrops.

Host and Nectar Plants

Common New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) is the only known host throughout Mottled Dusywing's range.  It has also been documented in Alabama.


For more information about the documented host plants and/or nectar plants, please visit the Alabama Plant Atlas using the following links:

Mottled Duskywing
Mottled Duskywing (Erynnis martialis)
© Sara Bright
Common New Jersey Tea

Landscaping Ideas