Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1 - 1½ inches (2.5 - 3.8 cm) UPPER SURFACE (dorsal) Dark brown. Pale wrist bracelet near forewing tip.  One or two pale spots mid-forewing.  Prominent in females, inconspicuous in males. Stigma difficult to see. UNDER SURFACE (ventral) Brown with violet frosting on outer edges and mid-hindwing.

Egg: Dome shaped. White; unmarked.

Caterpillar: Greenish with white frosting. Dark stripe down back and two white side stripes. Head white with black margin; three vertical black stripes and short brown line on facial region. Collar black.  First three pairs of legs (thoracic) pale. 

Chrysalis: Varying shades of green. Sharp, whitish point on head.

Clouded Skippers are penultimate habitat generalists, making them widespread and common. They nectar from a wide variety of flowers, and their caterpillars eat virtually any broad-bladed grass. They have even been found munching on Lemongrass, an intensely flavored culinary herb full of citronella and cyanogenic compounds. Caterpillar hunters are frequently disappointed to find that their prize specimen is "just another Clouded Skipper."

Clouded Skippers are early risers, often basking in the sun before the dew is dry.  Males perch on low grasses to wait for potential mates. Females deposit single eggs on host grasses.  Caterpillars initially make flap shelters along leaf edges. As they grow, the construct rolled shelters that dangle from the end of the blade.  Pupation occurs in a silked leaf that has edges pulled together.

These handsome skippers are based in the southern U.S. and Central America.  Each summer, their populations expand northward, but contract again with winter freezes.  In Alabama, Clouded Skippers are multi-brooded and have been documented in every county. 

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, Bullock, Butler, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Cleburne, Coffee, Colbert, Conecuh, Coosa, Covington, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dale, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Lowndes, Macon, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Washington, Wilcox, Winston

  • 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):

  • 75 - Franklin - 9/25/2016
  • 47 - Lawrence - 9/22/2019
  • 41 - Cleburne - 8/25/2021
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
2 22 18 42 62 58 75 58 40 19 7 15 27 58 66 71 39 133 84 130 93 268 261 278 304 763 451 280 233 193 61 37 2 4 1

Habitat

Varied. Uplands and wetlands; open spaces near woodland edges, streams, and swampy wetlands; gardens and parks; agricultural fields; meadows; vacant lots; flatwoods; hammocks; easements and utility right-of-ways. 

Clouded Skipper
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
County
© Sara Bright
Wetland with River Oats
Clouded Skipper
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
County
© Sara Bright
Canebrake
Clouded Skipper
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
County
© Sara Bright
Woodland stream
Clouded Skipper
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
County
© Sara Bright
Open area in woodland
Clouded Skipper
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
County
© Sara Bright
Open meadow with woodland edge
Clouded Skipper
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
County
© Sara Bright
Roadside with Purpletop

Host and Nectar Plants

Reports from other states list many, many broad-leaved grasses.

The following grasses have been documented in Alabama, but many other species are probably used. In addition to the grasses listed below, Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), a tropical culinary grass, has also been documented.

 

 

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

Clouded Skipper
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
County
© Sara Bright
Cutgrass spp.
Clouded Skipper
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
County
© Sara Bright
Cutgrass spp.
Clouded Skipper
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
County
© Sara Bright
Johnson Grass
Clouded Skipper
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
County
© Sara Bright
River Oats
Clouded Skipper
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
County
© Sara Bright
Cane spp.
Clouded Skipper
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
County
© Sara Bright
Purple Top
Clouded Skipper
Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
County
© Sara Bright
Vasey's Grass

Landscaping Ideas

Plant River Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) to help bring Clouded Skippers into your landscape. It is an adaptable plant that can thrive in both sunny and shady gardens. Other native broad-leaved grasses can be highly effective, particularly in sunny areas.

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