Alabama Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

Welcome to the Alabama Butterflies section. Temporarily putting the skipper butterflies into a bracket, Alabama has a very rich butterfly history with about ninety different species that can be found throughout the entire year.

Butterfly identification historically started with experts comparing and contrasting the physical features, i.e., wing color, patterns and size of the butterflies in question. The recent introduction of DNA identification analysis helps clarify, and perhaps change the way butterfly subfamilies and genera get reorganized.

That being said, the average enthusiast interested in butterfly identification can use the physical features of butterflies as the basis for their hobby. The video at the top of the page of the Gulf Fritillary highlights both a top down view of the wings and a size view of the wings. The side view shows the large white spots on the underside of the wings that defines the members of the fritillary genus. Using both the top and side views of the wings and taking into account wing patterns is sufficient for identifying the four Alabama fritillary butterflies.

This introduction to Alabama butterflies provides additional identification clues for all the butterfly families.

Visitors interested in additional videos, pictures and identification tips for additional butterfly species can press the green butterflies button.

Brush-Footed Butterflies

picture of a Monarch butterfly, Alabama butterflies, Alabama state insect
Alabama has an affinity for butterflies. They named the Monarch butterfly their official state insect. It’s one of many dazzling Alabama butterflies in the brush-footed family.

picture of a Queen butterfly, Alabama butterflies
The picture shows the Alabama relative of the Monarch butterfly, the Queen butterfly. Because the two pictures show a side view of the butterflies, it’s easy to identify each species based on that simple comparison. The arrow on the bottom wing points to the presence of more white spots on the side wing.

picture of a Mourning Cloak
A comparatively warmer climate and hardy butterflies translated into about one dozen brush-footed butterflies that fly almost year round in the state, including the Commas and the Ladies.

The picture shows a Mourning Cloak, another large and showy species that can be found almost year round. The top picture provides enough information about wing color and pattern for easy identification.

Additionally, some groups of Alabama brush-footed butterflies can be initially identified by size. The crescents, for example, tend to be the smallest of the brush-footed butterflies. The satyrs and wood-nymphs tend to have brown wing colors with eye spots compared to the orange wing color of most brush-footed butterflies.

Brush footed
American Snout
Gulf Fritillary
Zebra Heliconian
Variegated Fritillary
Diana Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Red-spotted Purple or White Admiral
Red-spotted Purple
Hackberry Emperor
Tawny Emperor
Silvery Checkerspot
Gorgone Checkerspot
Phaon Crescent
Pearl Crescent
Texan Crescent
Brush footed
Baltimore Checkerspot
Common Buckeye
White Peacock
Question Mark
Eastern Comma
Mourning Cloak
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
American Lady
Goatweed Leafwing
Southern Pearly-eye
Northern Pearly-eye
Creole Pearly-eye
Appalachian Brown
Gemmed Satyr
Georgia Satyr
Mitchell’s Satyr
Little Wood-Satyr
Carolina Satyr
Common Wood-Nymph

Butterflies: Whites and Yellows

picture of a Cabbage  White butterfly

Alabama butterflies nicely divide when it comes to the family Pieridae. That’s the formal name of the family that consists of the butterflies with white wings and yellow wings.

The picture shows a Cabbage White butterfly, a ubiquitous butterfly seen around gardens across the United States. It’s probably the most widely distributed of the Alabama white butterflies. The Great Southern White is the most common white butterfly in the Southern part of the state. The blue antenna tips are a great field ID clue.

picture of a Little Yellow butterfly
Like many southern states, yellow butterflies abound in Alabama. Cloudless Sulphur, Little Yellows and Sleepy Oranges have a state wide distribution. They also fly most of the year. The picture shows a Little Yellow Butterfly. Along with the Dainty sulphur, they can also be initially identified by their small size.

picture of a Sleepy orange butterfly, Alabama butterflies
Sleepy orange butterflies are a bit larger in size than the Little yellow and Dainty. The bright yellow wings help identify the butterfly. During the winter season the bottom wing loses the yellow color and transitions to various shades of brown.

Here’s the remainder of the whites and yellows list documented for Alabama.

Falcate Orangetip
West Virginia White
Cabbage White
Checkered White
Great Southern White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Southern Dogface
Cloudless Sulphur
Barred Yellow
Little Yellow
Sleepy Orange
Dainty Sulphur

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of an Edward's Hairstreak butterfly, part of the Alabama butterflies section
The common name Gossamer-wing butterflies refers to members of the family Lycaenidae. They split into three groups, the blues, hairstreaks and coppers. Alabama hosts a nice variety of species.

Just as with most southern states, the majority of species are hairstreaks. The picture shows an Edward’s Hairstreak, one of the least common species. Almost any day of the year visitors can find a Red-banded Hairstreak.

picture of an Eastern Tailed-blue Butterfly, part of the Alabama butterflies section
Seven blue butterflies appears like a nice diversity in the state. The Eastern Tailed-blue and the Azures are the most wide ranging of the blue butterflies. The Cassius Blue and the Reakirt’s Blue are fairly rare species in the state.

Here’s a nice list of the Alabama butterflies belonging to the Lycanidae to help with identification.

Cassius Blue
Eastern Pygmy-Blue
Eastern Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Summer Azure
Silvery Blue
Reakirt’s Blue
Great Purple Hairstreak
Hessel’s Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak
Brown Elfin
Frosted Elfin
Henry’s Elfin
Eastern Pine Elfin
Oak Hairstreak
Coral Hairstreak
Edwards’ Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
King’s Hairstreak
Striped Hairstreak
Red-banded Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
White-M Hairstreak
American Copper

Alabama Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, the official Alabama state butterfly
Alabama’s warmer climate makes it hospitable for eight different swallowtail butterflies. Most of the species can be found in the southern areas from February through November and possibly December.

Demonstrating the population’s affinity for butterflies, the Eastern tiger swallowtail stands as the official state butterfly, complimenting the monarch as the official state insect.
picture of a Zebra Swallowtail butterfly
They do lack the Parnassian species, because they are the more cold hardy of the swallowtail family species. The picture shows a Zebra Swallowtail. The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is the official state butterfly.

  • Pipevine Swallowtail
  • Zebra Swallowtail
  • Black Swallowtail
  • Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • Spicebush Swallowtail
  • Palamedes Swallowtail
  • Giant Swallowtail

Alabama Butterflies: Metalmarks

picture of a Swamp Metalmark: credit Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren flickr
Metalmarks are mostly a southern species, however Alabama only host two. The picture shows a Swamp Metalmark.