Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1 - 1½ inches (2.5 - 3.5 cm). UPPER SURFACE (dorsal) Dark brown. Golden sheen on head and thorax. Males have dark stigma. Females have three or four small white spots on forewing. UNDER SURFACE (ventral) Brown or tan. Unmarked or very faint spot band. Head and thorax have golden sheen.

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; elongated black spot on "forehead" edged with creamy white. Posterior has black crescent. Collar pale green with thin white ring near body. First three pairs of legs (thoracic) pale green. Partially grown larvae overwinter.

Chrysalis: Long, slender, and dark brown.

Like other members of their genus, Euphyes, Dun Skippers are typically found in or near wetlands, although they may seek nectar in higher, drier places. Late in the day, males perch on vegetation about 2 to 3 feet above the ground where they wait for potential mates to fly by. When perched, their wings are partially open. Freshly emerged males puddle on damp earth. Females tend to prefer shadier habitats near host plants. 

By fourth instar, caterpillars make leaf tents by sealing sedge blades together with silken threads. Third instar larvae hibernate through late fall and winter within a tubular shelter at the base of the host plant. In the spring, caterpillars become mature and final instar caterpillars form pupae.

This wide-ranging skipper occurs throughout the eastern U.S. as well as the Pacific coast. It is found throughout 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 albutterflyatlas@gmail.com.

Sightings in the following counties: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Clay, Cleburne, Colbert, Covington, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Franklin, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Lowndes, Macon, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Washington

  • 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):

  • 30 - Pickens - 8/31/2016
  • 26 - Pickens - 8/17/2020
  • 23 - Cleburne - 8/2/2021
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 6 5 1 14 26 25 19 18 45 18 26 10 28 51 57 25 75 49 66 77 111 62 64 70 36 19 7 9 1 1 2

Habitat

Prefers wet areas like sedgy, wet meadows, bogs, swamps, marshes, and seepage areas located near deciduous woodlands. Frequently ventures into surrounding drier areas in search of nectar

Dun Skipper
Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris)
Shelby County
© Paulette Haywood Ogard
The "sedgy edges" of Shoal Creek
Dun Skipper
Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris)
County
© Sara Bright
Oakmulgee Swamp
Dun Skipper
Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris)
County
© Sara Bright
Woodland stream

Host and Nectar Plants

Reports from nearby states list a wide variety of sedges (Carex spp.) and, occasionally, Yellow Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus).

In Alabama, Dun Skippers have been found using Cherokee Sedge, a native clump-forming perennial.  Other sedges may also be used.

 

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

Landscaping Ideas

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

Consider adding Cherokee Sedge to your landscape.  It is an extremely adaptable perennial that will grow in clay soils and is deer resistant.  It can be used as an edging for pathways, a ground cover, or as a filler in meadow plantings.

If you have a lawn in your landscape, let 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 Dun Skippers