Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: ¾ - 1 inch (2.2 - 2.5 cm.) UPPER SURFACE (dorsal) Males black brown with variable forewing spots; females less marked. UNDER SURFACE (ventral) Dusky brown with tiny gray blue flecking. Small wrist bracelet on forewing. Wing fringes checkered, sometimes subtly.  Antennal clubs are often reported as blunt, without a tapered extension, but this may be a result of wear.

Egg: Dome shaped. Whitish; unmarked.

Caterpillar: Green with heavy white frosting; dark line down back. Head straw colored with chestnut edges and two chestnut stripes separated by white; chestnut mark down forehead. Collar pale with thin black ring.  First three pairs of legs (thoracic) pale. Mature caterpillars overwinter.

Chrysalis

The Dusky Roadside Skipper is one of the most difficult skippers to locate, even in areas where it is known to have an active population. The smallest of the road-side skippers, it is tiny, a rapid flier, and stays close to the ground where it is well camouflaged. To make matters worse, it is easily confused with Common and Bell's Roadside-Skippers. Many sources report that Dusky's have blunt antennal clubs, lacking the tip (apiculus) that is present on the antennae of other Amblyscirtes species.  Unfortunately, some individuals seem to have apiculi intact, so it is possible that they may be easily shed rather than totally absent. For specific information about how to identify Dusky Roadside-Skippers, click the "Get Identification Help" link above.

Dusky Roadside-Skippers share the typical roadside-skipper lifestyle. Like most of the others, they are multi-brooded: in our area; there are probably three flights. Eggs are laid singly on grass leaves, and caterpillars make aerial nests by rolling leaf blades into tubes.  At maturity, the caterpillar silks itself into the tube, clips it from the plant, attaches it to a secure location on the ground. Using tooth-like structures near its mouth, the caterpillar pulls itself and the leaf tube to a satisfactory location and lightly silks the leaf in place. It pupates, head up, within the shelter. Fully mature caterpillars overwinter within the shelter, pupating and emerging the following spring.  

This secretive skipper is found in disjunct populations from southeast Virginia south to Florida, and west to E. Texas. In Alabama, this rare skipper is known from only a few locations.  Less than 10 individuals have been sighted.

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, Bibb, Escambia

  • 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):

  • 2 - Escambia - 4/2/2022
  • 1 - Escambia - 3/13/2018
  • 1 - Baldwin - 3/27/2019
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
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Habitat

Grassy pine flatwoods, savannas, and sandhills, especially in areas where Wiregrass (Aristida spp.) is found.  Typically associated with Longleaf Pine habitats.

Dusky Roadside-Skipper
Dusky Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes alternata)
County
© Sara Bright
Longleaf Pine savanna
Dusky Roadside-Skipper
Dusky Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes alternata)
County
© Paulette Haywood Ogard
Upland Longleaf Pines

Host and Nectar Plants

Bearded Skeleton Grass (Gymnopogon ambiguus) is reported in Florida and has been documented in Alabama.

 

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

Dusky Roadside-Skipper
Dusky Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes alternata)
County
© Alan Weakley
Bearded Skeletongrass
Dusky Roadside-Skipper
Dusky Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes alternata)
County
© Alan Weakley
Bearded Skeletongrass

Landscaping Ideas

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