Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1 - 1¾ inches (2.8 - 4.4 cm). The Zarucco Duskywing is basically brown on both upper- and lower wing surfaces, with three to five small, glassy-whitish spots at the subapical region of the upper forewing. The white spots are located just to the outside edge of a distinctive light russet-red to beige patch found at the end of the forewing cell and in the postmedial position along the outer costal edge. The Zarucco Duskywing lacks the white spot adjacent to the inside edge of the russet patch that is present in Juvenal’s Duskywing and Horace’s Duskywing. Another patch, more russet in color, is located submedially along the inner margin of the upper forewing. The whitish wing fringe along the hindwing in Alabama specimens is lighter in color than that of the forewing, which is grayish. The wings below are dark brown with numerous light and darker spots. The female is usually lighter in color than the male with larger glassy spots and more strongly patterned wings.

Egg: Yellowish when deposited, turning light orange.

Caterpillar: Light green with pale lateral stripe. Body covered with numerous minute white dots. Head brown and rimmed on either side with three large yellow-orange spots.

Chrysalis: Green to brownish with a single small dark dot on either side of head portion. Together, the dots appear to be eyes.

Like most duskywings, the Zarucco Duskywing flies within a few feet of the ground and has a rapid, erratic flight. While perching and nectaring, this butterfly holds its wings open.

The caterpillars construct shelters of rolled leaves tied together with silk. When not feeding, the caterpillars return to their retreat to rest. The caterpillars from the last brood in the fall overwinters. Pupation and emergence of adults appear during the following spring.

The Zarucco Duskywing is primarily an inhabitant of the southeastern U. S., being found from North Carolina south to the Florida Keys, and west along the Gulf coastal states to eastern Texas and Oklahoma. During favorable climates, some specimens may stray northward as far as Connecticut, Pennsylvania and southern Illinois. It is most common in the lower two-thirds of Alabama, and rare in the upper more mountainous regions, especially in northeast Alabama.

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, Calhoun, Chilton, Clarke, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Covington, Dallas, DeKalb, Escambia, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lee, Macon, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, Sumter, 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):

  • 6 - Baldwin - 10/9/2011
  • 6 - Bibb - 8/5/2017
  • 6 - Cleburne - 8/16/2021
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 1 6 4 5 4 1 2 1 4 8 20 4 3 7 4 10 18 21 28 17 19 20 10 14 9 2 5 15 1 1


The Zarucco Duskywing is often found in hot, sandy habitats such as sandy pine forests, scrub-oak habitat, utility right-of-ways, sand dunes, roadsides, fields, and other open areas. This species is a common inhabitant of coastal regions.

Host and Nectar Plants

In other states, larvae are also known to feed on the leaves of a wide varielty of legumes including Hairy Bush Clover (Lespedeza hirta), Carolina Indigo (Indigofera caroliniana), and vetches (Vicia spp.).

In Alabama, hoarypea (Tephrosia spp.), milkpea (Galactia spp.), wisteria (Wisteria spp.), Black Locust (Robinia pseudacacia), and Bagpod (Sesbania vesicaria) have been documented as host plants.


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

Zarucco Duskywing
Zarucco Duskywing (Erynnis zarucco)
© Jeff Garner
Black Locust
Zarucco Duskywing
Zarucco Duskywing (Erynnis zarucco)
© Sara Bright
American Wisteria

Landscaping Ideas

Provide a variety of garden worthy, nectar-rich flowers to attract butterflies like the Zarucco 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.

If you have a lawn in your landscape, consider letting it be natural.  The diverse assemblage of native and nonnative flowering plants and grasses typically found in naturalized lawns provides nectar and host sources for many small butterflies including Zarucco Duskywings.