Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly:. Wingspan: 1 - 1¼ inches (2.5 - 3.2 cm). The underside of the hindwing is dark brown with contrasting white veins which are criss-crossed by white bands to form a complex, lace-like pattern. The underside of the forewing has a white band that also contributes to this pattern.  The upperside of the hindwing is brown while the forewing has an arc of white spots forming a curved white band near the central portion of the wing. The fringes of the outer wing margins are checkered with dark brown and white squares.

Egg: Pale white eggs are laid singly.

Caterpillar: Small in size: head is pale with black stripes; body is lightly frosted with white. A portion of the life history was described by John and Gloria Tveten in their book Butterflies of Houston and southeastern Texas (published by University of Texas Press, Austin, 1996).  They stated, “We report our experience with the life history here, because it does not appear in other readily available references. A dozen caterpillars ranging from three to twenty-six millimeters (one inch) long were found by carefully searching stands of giant cane along a woodland stream.  Each was well-separated from other larvae, and each was concealed within a folded leaf. The smallest larva makes a fold near the tip of the leaf blade and along one edge; the mature larvae make a tube by tying together the opposite edges of the blade.  The caterpillar feeds at the end of its shelter, finally leaving only a short tube hanging from a long section of the bare midrib. It then crawls quickly to another leaf and rolls it tightly.” The authors later stated, “Before pupation, the caterpillar isolated a segment of leaf slightly more than an inch long by chewing away the blade both above and below, leaving the section hanging by the rib, stitching the edges tightly together.  The caterpillar then pupated within this secure shelter suspended in the air.” Caterpillars clip their shelter from the plant, let it fall to the ground, and overwinter inside it.The caterpillars are pale-green with a dark green mid-dorsal stripe. The tan head has two dark brown vertical stripes on each side of the facial area.

Chrysalis: According to the Tvetens, the pupae are tan with bulging eye cases and a long proboscis that reaches nearly to the end of the abdomen.  There was no head projection as is seen in a large number of skippers. Adults emerged within 10 to 15 days.

Lace-winged Roadside-Skippers may be observed as they nectar or sip moisture and minerals from damp soil. In Bibb County, we have often found it nectaring on Sweet-scented Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum), a tall plant that grows by roadside ditches in swampy and wetland areas.

This skipper occurs across Alabama, most often where swampy wetlands occur. Elsewhere, it occurs from southeast Virginia, south along Atlantic coastline to north Florida; thence, westward to eastern Texas and eastern Oklahoma.

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, Bibb, Blount, Bullock, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Coosa, Dale, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Geneva, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lawrence, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Madison, Marengo, Marshall, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Randolph, Shelby, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Walker, 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):

  • 200 - Sumter - 9/10/2016
  • 101 - Sumter - 9/7/2021
  • 40 - Hale - 7/27/2014
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 2 3 5 5 5 9 20 13 50 8 2 2 3 8 16 49 168 25 59 23 114 183 211 2 9 3 1


The Lace-winged Roadside-Skipper prefers to live in moist areas with stands of cane (Arundinaria spp.) growing nearby. These areas include moist deciduous woodlands, dirt roads that traverse swampy and boggy wetlands,  wet areas along bottomland stream corridors, and moist areas along utility right-of-ways.

Lace-winged Roadside-Skipper
Lace-winged Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes aesculapius)
© Sara Bright

Host and Nectar Plants

Range-wide and in Alabama, the documented host plants are canes (Arundinaria spp.)


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

Lace-winged Roadside-Skipper
Lace-winged Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes aesculapius)
© Sara Bright

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