Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1¾ to 2¼ inches (4.5 - 5.4 cm). This is a very large grass-skipper. The upperside of both wings is brownish-orange with black wing margins.  Males have a distinctive black, two-parted stigma. The leading edge of the forewings may be a coppery-orange color. The underside of both wings is rather homogeneously rusty-brown, but may have some faint pale spots.

Egg: Eggs are dome-shaped.  They are laid singly on host blades.  Initially eggs are blue-green,  As they mature, the color fades to creamy white, and two irregularly-shaped red rings appear.

Caterpillar: 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 brown striped pattern. Also in the facial region there is a black oval spot edged with a thin creamy-white line and is located on the upper part of the forehead.  The body of the caterpillar is bluish-green with numerous minute pale green spots covering the entire body. The caterpillar’s body coloration closely matches that of the green sedges upon which it lives. The third or fourth instar caterpillars overwinter in a tube-like nest constructed by tying together several leaf blades.

Chrysalis

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.  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.  Chrysalides are formed on the host plant.

The Palatka Skipper is distributed along the Atlantic coastline from Virginia to the Florida Keys; thence, around the tip of Florida to the Gulf of Mexico coastline to Mississippi.

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 albutterflyatlas@gmail.com.

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
  • 13 - Baldwin - 4/5/2019
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 21 13 28 1 2 13 25 2 2 15 14

Habitat

Brackish or freshwater marshes that contain sawgrass.

Palatka Skipper
Palatka Skipper (Euphyes pilatka)
Baldwin County
© Karen Chiasson 10/18/2019

Host and Nectar Plants

Swamp Sawgrass (Cladium jamaicense) is the primary host plant for Palatka Skipper and has been documented as a 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.

The Palatka Skipper is known to nectar from the blossoms of many wetland plants including Spanish Needles (Bidens alba) and blazing stars (Liatris spp.).

 

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

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