Alabama Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

picture of a Cabbage  White butterfly

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.

Understanding the types of butterflies in Alabama starts by understanding the different eco-regions of the state. The coastal plains in the south, for example, have a soil and climate composition that is more amenable to some butterflies than the soil and climate of the northern mountains.

This starting point also helps locals with their butterfly gardens. The Alabama Butterfly Atlas reminds people that

Knowledge of host plant choice is important in determining where to find particular butterfly species, and it is crucial to understanding how to conserve and protect them. The plants included in this list have all been documented as host plants in Alabama.

Local garden clubs will often provide information and carry native plants to help residents build a year round butterfly garden.

Butterfly identification usually begins with color. So, the Alabama butterflies section divides into the families that often use color as the key identification feature.

This article provides a quick list of Alabama butterflies and species to get things started.

All the Alabama butterfly pictures can not fit on a one page introduction. So please press the green butterflies button for additional pictures and information.

Butterflies: Whites and Yellows

picture of a Little Yellow 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.

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.

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 haristreaks. 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

Brush Footed Butterflies

picture of a Mourning Cloak
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 brushfoot family.

Brushfoot butterflies are fairly hardy and about one dozen species fly almost year round in the state, including the Commas and the Ladies.

The picture shows a Mourning Cloak, another large and showy species Here’s the entire list. They also can be found almost year round.

Alabama also hosts a very nice collection of Satyrs and Wood Nymphs.

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
Brush footed
Phaon Crescent
Pearl Crescent
Texan Crescent
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: Swallowtails

picture of a Zebra Swallowtail 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.

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.