Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1¾ to 2¼ inches (4.5 - 5.4 cm). UPPER SURFACE (dorsal) Male tawny orange with dark brown borders; narrow black forewing stigma. Female browner with reduced orange makings. Large dark forewing patch near forewing tip. Hindwings dusky orange with dark veins and border. UNDER SURFACE (ventral) Forewing orange near base; cinnamon brown on edges. Hindwing various shades of warm brown.

Egg: Dome-shaped. Initially blue/green; with maturation, color fades to creamy white and two irregularly shaped red rings appear. Laid singly on host blades.

Caterpillar: Blue/green mottled with pale yellow; two narrow dark lines on back. Head pale brown with brown stripe around edge; three black stripes separated by two white stripes on face. Collar pale green with thin black ring near body. First three pairs of legs (thoracic) pale green. Partially grown larvae overwinter.

Chrysalis: Long, slender, and dark brown. Formed in slightly-rolled sawgrass blade.

Palatka Skippers are the largest of the "grass skipper" group. They inhabit freshwater or brackish marshy areas that contain Swamp Sawgrass, a large sedge that is their only known caterpillar host. Males perch in depressions in coastal marshes as they wait for females to fly by and mate with them. Both sexes cluster at good nectar sites that include flowers like Spanish Needles or blazing stars.

Palatka Skippers lay dome-shaped eggs on sawgrass blades.  The caterpillars of the skippers in this genus (Euphyes) are distinguished from all other skippers by having a distinctive head coloration: the facial region of the brown head has a white and black striped pattern. Caterpillars initially live between emerging sedge blades, which they loosely bind together with silk. Although sawgrass blades are sharp and tough, the larvae are able to chew distinct notches in blade edges as they eat.  Development is slow, spanning several weeks. The chrysalis is formed on the host plant.

Populations of Palatka Skipper are distributed along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. They should be searched for and expected to occur in Mobile and Baldwin counties.

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: Baldwin

  • 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):

  • 28 - Baldwin - 4/20/2019
  • 25 - Baldwin - 9/29/2018
  • 22 - Baldwin - 9/21/2022
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 21 13 29 1 2 3 44 42 22 2 15 14 1


Brackish or freshwater marshes that contain sawgrass.

Palatka Skipper
Palatka Skipper (Euphyes pilatka)
Baldwin County
© Karen Chiasson
Brackish marsh with sawgrass

Host and Nectar Plants

Swamp Sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense) is the primary host for Palatka Skipper and has been documented as their host in Alabama. Note that this tall, tough-leafed plant is actualy a sedge rather than a grass.  Its saw-toothed leaf blades are formidable.



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

Palatka Skipper
Palatka Skipper (Euphyes pilatka)
© Sara Bright
Swamp Sawgrass
Palatka Skipper
Palatka Skipper (Euphyes pilatka)
© Sara Bright
Swamp Sawgrass

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