thirty or more types of butterflies you may see around your garden

These types of butterflies are seen in the United States. Use the photos and information to identify the butterflies you see.

Gain a deeper appreciation for the natural beauty that thrives in our own backyards. People have admired butterflies for centuries. 

The stunning Blue Morpho Butterfly (photo below) is a popular attraction in public butterfly gardens. They are an amazing gift from God.

Identify the 30 popular types of butterflies found in the United States.It's fun to learning the butterflies.
underside of a Blue Morpho ButterflyBlue Morpho

Amazingly, their beautiful blue wings are brown on the underside. This camouflages them when their wings are up.

They are not native to the United States. Instead, they are from the tropical forests of Mexico, Central and South America.

They are quite large for a butterfly with their wing-span often reaching eight inches.

Let's look at butterflies that live in the states.

types of butterflies seen in the united states

Identify the general type and click down the page for more information.

How do we tell if it's a moth or a butterfly?

swallowtail butterflies

Swallowtail Butterfly groupThe tails identify this group of butterflies.

The types of butterflies known as Swallowtails are the most recognizable butterflies in the United States. They capture our imagination with their distinctive elongated tails and vibrant colors.

They are noted for their impressive size, with wingspans that can reach up to six inches.

There is often a false eye on the swallowtail. It is for their protection to keep birds from pecking their real eyes.

These magnificent butterflies are found in a wide range of environments from forests to our backyard gardens.

black swallowtail

Identify the Black Swallowtail ButterflyBlack Swallowtail

The male Black Swallowtails have an orange spot on the back of the hind-wing. The orange spot on both male and females has black in the center of the orange spot.
2 1/2" to 3 1/2"

black swallowtail

Female Black Swallowtail ButterflyBlack Swallowtail, female

The black swallowtails are wide-spread from southern Canada to Florida, thru the mid-western states to the west side of the Rocky Mountains and southwest into Arizona, southern California and into northern Mexico.

black swallowtail

Black Swallowtail Butterfly with its wings folded.Black Swallowtail

Black Swallowtails lay their eggs on the carrot family plants: parsley, dill, fennel and carrots.

art by carol May

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly painting by Carol MayWC Butterfly Painting

It's my joy to do butterfly paintings, hummingbirds, flowers and landscapes.

Pipevine Swallowtail

Pipevine Swallowtail photographPipevine Swallowtail

This beautiful butterfly is seen from the Great Lakes to Southern California and down into Central America.
2 3/4" to 3 1/2"

Spicebush Swallowtail

Spicebrush Swallowtail ButterflySpicebush Swallowtail

The hind-wings are bluish or white. The orange spot on the hind-wing has no black in the center like that of the Black Swallowtail.
3 1/2" to 4 3/4"

Palamedes swallowtail

Palamedes Butterfly with its wings open.Palamedes Swallowtail

The Palamedes Swallowtail is seen in the swampy areas along the Southeastern United States down to the gulf coast area.

They are distinctively larger than Black Swallowtails and brownish-black, not black.
4 1/2" to 5 1/8"

Zebra Swallowtail

The black and white Zebra Swallowtail ButterflyZebra Swallowtail

The Zebra Swallowtail of the eastern US may be confused with a Tiger Swallowtail.

It is black and white without any yellow. Also, it is considerably smaller than the Tiger Swallowtails.
2 1/2" to 3 1/2"

Giant Swallowtail 

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly with its wings outstretched.Giant Swallowtail

The Giant Swallowtail is one of the largest butterflies in North America. Its wing-span is up to 6". Some males can be 7" or more.

They reside east of the Rockies to the east coast and down to South America.

Giant Swallowtail 

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly with its wings up showing the underside.Giant Swallowtail, underside

Their top is bright yellow and black. The underside is mostly pale yellow with black markings.

It's hard to tell it is the same butterfly until you see it with its wings both open and closed.

Tiger Swallowtail

The gorgeous Eastern Tiger Swallowtail ButterflyEastern Tiger Swallowtail

This stunning butterfly is one of my favorite types of butterflies. The bold black and yellow 'tiger' stripes make it easy to recognize.

It is a large butterfly and it flies so softly.
3 1/2" to 5 1/2"

Tiger Swallowtail

Brown morph of the female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail ButterflyBrown Tiger Swallowtail

There is a brown form of some of the female Tiger Swallowtails.

All forms are seen in the eastern United States from Maine to Florida and west into the Great Plains.

Tiger Swallowtail

Western Tiger Swallowtail ButterflyWestern Tiger Swallowtail

The Western Tiger Swallowtail is smaller than the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. It has an orange and several blue spots on each hind-wing, plus double swallowtails.
3" to 4"

tiger Swallowtails

Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies puddlingTiger Swallowtail Butterflies

Male Tiger Swallowtail butterflies getting minerals from the wet soil.

Only male butterflies do this to get the extra minerals.

milkweed butterflies

The famous Milkweed ButterfliesNotable Milkweed Butterflies

Milkweed Butterflies stand out from others types of butterflies for their remarkable adaptations.

They are pretty smart. They feed on milkweeds that contain cardiac glycoside. They have developed a tolerance for this chemical, but it is toxic to birds. So, the birds don't try to eat them.

From the vibrant colors of the Monarch to the intriguing patterns of the Queen Butterfly this group offers a glimpse into the intricate web of life that sustains our natural ecosystems.

Monarch Butterfly

Male Monarch ButterflyMonarch Butterfly

Monarchs have no white spots out in the middle of their fore-wings.

They live from Canada to South America, some Pacific islands, Hawaii and New Zealand.
3 1/2" to 4"

Monarch Butterfly

underside of a Monarch ButterflyMonarch Butterfly, underside

Monarch Butterflies are the most well-known types of butterflies.

They are famous for their amazing life cycle and annual migration from the United States to Mexico and back again.

Queen Butterfly

The beautiful,delicate Queen ButterflyQueen Butterfly

Queen Butterflies are seen from southern California to South Georgia and Florida down to Argentina.
3" to 3 1/2"

Queen Butterfly

bottom side of the Queen ButterflyQueen Butterfly, underside

The Queen Butterfly may be confused with the Monarch, but it lacks the black veins of the Monarch. It also has white spots in the orange part of the fore-wing.

longwing butterflies

Longwing Butterflies are identified by their wing shape.The wing-shape identifies these butterflies.

The Longwing Butterflies, Heliconius are actually part of the Brush-footed family of butterflies.

But who looks at their feet, it's much easier to see their long wings. Their fore-wings are longer than they are wide.

From the striking patterns of the Zebra Longwing to the vibrant Gulf Fritillary this group of butterflies are a treat when we see them visiting our gardens.

Zebra Longwing

The Zebra Longwings are the Florida State Butterfly.Zebra Longwing

Zebra Longwings are the Florida State Butterfly.

They live several months longer than other butterflies.
2 3/4" to 3 1/2"

Julia Butterfly

Julia is an orange longwing butterfly.Julia Butterfly

The Julia Butterfly, sometimes called Orange Longwing is actually a brush-footed butterfly.

But its wings are distinctly long.
3 1/4" to 3 1/2

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary Butterflies are common in Florida.Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

The Gulf Fritillary is one of the most common butterflies in Florida. They have long orange wings with dark spots.
2 1/2" to 3 3/4"

Plant some Butterfly Flowers.

Gulf Fritillary

The underside of the Gulf Fritillary has silvery, white spots.Gulf Fritillary, underside

They have large silvery spots on the underside of their wings.

When you see the underside, you may think they are different types of butterflies until you see both sides.

brush-footed butterflies

Brush-footed Butterflies are a large group of butterflies in the United States.Brush-footed Butterfly

The Brush-footed types of butterflies are a diverse and fascinating group.

They are named for their distinctive front legs that look a brush. They walk and stand mainly on their four back legs.

We probably don't look at their legs, but they are also known for their intricate patterns and bold colors. This group of showcases the incredible adaptability and resilience of these winged wonders.

Viceroy Butterfly

The Viceroy Butterfly is sometimes identified as a Monarch.Viceroy Butterfly

The Viceroy is seen in the United States east of California. It is one of the butterflies often confused with the Monarch.

It has a heavy black band across the hind-wing.

Viceroy Butterfly

Viceroy ButterflyViceroy Butterfly, underside

The band also shows on the underside. Monarchs don't have a black band.

The Viceroy, at 2 1/2" to 3" is smaller than Monarchs which are 3 1/2" to 4"

painted lady

Painted Lady Butterflies live throughout the world.Painted Lady

Painted Lady Butterflies are seen in many parts of the world. They have very interesting patterns on the underside of their wings.
2" to 2 1/4"

American Painted Lady

American Painted Lady ButterflyAmerican Painted Lady

The American Painted Lady has a large eye-spot on the back wings. The Painted Lady does not have this eye-spot.
2" to 2 1/4"

malachite butterfly

The green Malachite ButterflyMalachite Butterfly

The Malachite sports green patches with dark brown to black. It is seen in the southeastern states, mainly Florida and south Texas.
3" to 4"

Great Spangled Fritillary

Great Spangled Fritillary is seen in the east to the Midwest.Great Spangled Fritillary

The Great Spangled Fritillary is a common butterfly throughout much of the eastern United States. The underside has silvery white spots.
2 1/8" to 3"

Buckeye Butterfly

The Buckeye Butterfly has large eye-spots.Buckeye Butterfly

I see the Buckeyes often and they are one of my favorites because I see them so often.

They reside throughout the United States, southern Canada and some of the Caribbean.
2' to 2 1/2"

Red Admiral Butterfly

The Red Admiral Butterfly is a stunning black with red bands.Red Admiral Butterfly

The first time I saw a Red Admiral Butterfly I was amazed at their brilliant red coloring.

It can be seen throughout the United States, Europe, central Asia and North Africa.
1 3/4" to 2 1/4"

White Peacock Butterfly

White Peacock Butterflies are lovely.White Peacock Butterfly

The White Peacock Butterfly is seen in south Texas and Florida and down through Mexico, Central America and into Venezuela.

It flies close to the ground. The first one I ever saw was sitting on the grass.
2 1/8" to 2 3/4"

Pearl Crescent

The small Pearl Crescent ButterflyPearl Crescent Butterfly

The Pearl Crescent Butterfly has pearl colored crescents inside of the black edge of the hind-wings.

It lives in much of the United States, excluding the west coast, Canada and Mexico.
1" to 1 1/3"

Red-spotted Purple

One of our blue butterflies is the Red-spotted Purple Butterfly.Red-spotted Purple Butterfly

This beautiful butterfly is seen in much of the eastern United States. The purplish-orange color is on the end of the wings.

It mimics the Pipevine Swallowtail which is toxic. But they do not have a swallowtail.
3" to 3 3/8"

Question Mark Butterfly

Question Mark Butterfly is named for the mark on its underside.Question Mark Butterfly

The Question Mark Butterfly has a question mark on the underside of its hind-wing. Its wing edges are raggedy looking.

It is from southern Canada and the United States east of the Rockies, except Florida.
2 3/8" to 2 5/8"

white and sulphur butterflies

The Checkered White Butterfly is one of white butterflies in the United States.Checkered White Butterfly

White and Sulphurs are just like their names imply, either white or sulphur, yellow colored.

Both sulphur and white butterflies are small and numerous. They are the most common types of butterflies in the United States.

Sulphur Butterflies are small pale to bright yellow, sometimes with variations of orange.

White butterflies come with various markings as noted below.

Cabbage White

Cabbage White ButterflyCabbage White

The Cabbage White is the most numerous white butterflies across the United States.

The tip of their fore-wing is edged in black. Females have two black spots on the fore-wing, males have one spot.

Their larva are pests on cruciferous veggies.
1 1/2" to 2"

great southern white

Great Southern White ButterflyGreat Southern White

The Great Southern White butterflies are white with small dark edge on the fore-wing.

They live in Florida, across the Gulf states to Texas and up the east coast as far as Maryland. Occasionally, they have been sighted in Colorado, Missouri, Kansas and the Dakotas.
2 1/2" to 3"

western pine white

Western Pine White Butterflies feed on the green needles.Western Pine White

The beautifully marked Western Pine White Butterfly is named for their caterpillars that feed on the needles of pine and fir trees.

They are seen from western Nebraska and west to the Pacific.
1 3/4" to 2 1/4"

Checkered white

Checkered White Butterflies have brown to black markings.Checkered White

Checkered Whites have patterned fore-wings and faint marks on the hind-wing. The male’s markings are black and the female’s are brown.

They are residents in the southern states and seasonally as far north as Canada.
1 1/2" to 2 1/2"

Cloudless Sulphur

Cloudless Sulphurs are the yellow butterfly of the south.Cloudless Sulphurs

The Cloudless Sulphur are lemon to pale yellow. The females may fade to white. Their wings have tiny dark edges.

They are seen all across the lower fifty states. They live year-round in south Texas, throughout the deep south and Florida.
2 " to 2 3/4"

orange sulphur

Orange Sulphur Butterflies live across the United States.Orange Sulphur

Orange Sulphurs, Alfalfa Butterflies are yellowish orange to white in some females.

The topside of the wings has dark borders and one black spot on each fore-wing.

They live across the states, except Florida.
1 3/8" to 2 3/4"

skipper butterflies

The European Skipper in now quite common in the United States.The European Skipper now resides here.

Skippers are a diverse type of butterfly often overlooked. These small, fast-flying butterflies, named for their distinctive flight pattern.

Their wings are small in proportion to their body, so they fly in a hurry. They 'skip' from flower to flower.

Skippers contribute to the health of our ecosystems by serving as important pollinators.

guava skipper

The showy little Guava SkipperGuava Skipper

The Guava Skipper resides in south Texas. Their red-colored larva feed on Guava plants.
1 5/8" to 2 1/2".

Checkered Skipper

Checkered Skipper ButterflyCheckered Skipper

The delightful little Checkered Skipper is seen from southern Canada to Argentina.
3/4" to 1 1/4"

Long-tailed Skippers

Long-tailed Skipper ButterflyLong-tailed Skipper

These dark skippers have a blue-green iridescence and a long tail. They are seen from the southern United States to Argentina.
1 3/4" to 2 1/4"

Silver-spotted Skipper

Silver-spotted Skipper Butterflies have one large white spot.Silver-spotted Skipper

The Silver-spotted Skipper is easy to identify. It is seen from southern Canada down to Florida and northern Mexico.
1 3/4" to 2 3/8"

It's fun learning the types of butterflies visiting our yards

Whether we know the names of the butterflies is not as important, as enjoying these wonderful garden gifts.

more pages for inspiration