These common types of butterflies are seen in the United States. You can identify these butterfly types with their photos and information.
Butterflies have amazed people for centuries. It's amazing how a caterpillar can change into a beautiful butterfly.
The most popular butterfly in the United States is the Monarch butterfly. They are loved and admired for their beauty and courage.
The amazing Monarchs spend the summer in the United States. They migrate to Mexico or Southern California for the winter months. A few live in Southern California, Texas and Florida all year long.
Monarchs also live in the Mediterranean area, Indonesia, Australia, Hawaii and some of the Pacific Islands.
Click on the images to go down the page for more information.
Swallowtails probably are the most remarkable of the many types of butterflies.
They are fairly large (3" to 6") and they have an elongation on the end of their hind-wings.
There is often a false eye on the swallowtail. It is their protection to keep birds from pecking their real eyes.
The male Black Swallowtails have an orange spot on the back of the hind-wing. The orange spot has black in the center of the spot.
2 1/2" to 3 1/2"
The male and female Black Swallowtails may differ somewhat in their coloring.
Some resemble the Spicebush, but lack the orange spot.
Black Swallowtails are common in the eastern US and down to South America.
It is my joy to paint butterflies and all sorts of other critters, flowers and landscapes.
The hind-wings are bluish or white. The orange spot on the hind-wing has no black in the center of the spot.
3 1/2" to 4 3/4"
This beautiful butterfly is seen from the Great Lakes to Southern California and down into Central America.
2 3/4" to 3 1/2"
The Giant Swallowtail is one of the large types of butterflies. Its wing-span is 6". Their top is bright yellow and black.
It is found east of the Rockies to South America.
The underside of this beautiful butterfly is 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.
The Palamedes is seen in the swampy areas along the eastern United States down into the gulf coast area.
4 1/2" to 5 1/8"
The Zebra Swallowtail of the eastern US may be confused with the Tiger
Swallowtail, but it is smaller with no yellow.
2 1/2" to 3 1/2"
This stunning butterfly is one of my favorite types of butterflies. It is a large butterfly and it flies so softly.
3 1/2" to 5 1/2"
The western Tiger Swallowtail is a bit smaller than the Eastern. It has an orange and blue spot on the hind-wing.
3" to 4"
There is a brown form of the female Tiger Swallowtail.
Male Tiger Swallowtail butterflies getting minerals from the wet soil.
Monarchs are the most well-known types of butterflies. They live from southern Canada, down to South America and out in some of the Pacific islands
including Hawaii and New Zealand.
3 1/2" to 4"
The Queen Butterfly is seen from southern California to So. Georgia, Florida to Argentina. It may be confused with the Monarch, but it lacks the black veins of the Monarch.
3" to 3 1/2"
The Monarch has no white spots out in the middle of the fore-wing.
The Queen has white spots on the fore-wing.
The front legs of the Brush-footed Butterflies look a brush. They walk and stand mainly on their back legs.
We probably don't look at their
legs but many of these types of butterflies are in our gardens across
the United States.
The Viceroy is seen in the United States east of California. It is one the types of butterflies confused with the Monarch.
It has a heavy black band across the hind-wing.
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"
This lovely little butterfly is seen throughout many parts of the world. 2" to 2 1/4"
Painted Lady butterflies have very interesting patterns on the underside of their wings.
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"
The Great Spangled Fritillary is a common butterfly throughout much of the eastern United States.
2 1/8" to 3"
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"
The first time I saw a Red Admiral Butterfly I was amazed at their brilliant red coloring.
It is seen throughout the United States, Europe, central Asia and North Africa.
1 3/4" to 2 1/4"
The White Peacock Butterfly is seen in parts of Texas and Florida and down through Mexico, Central America and into Venezuela.
2 1/8" to 2 3/4"
The Pearl Crescent Butterfly is found thru out much of the United States
(except for the west coast), parts of Canada and Mexico.
1" to 1 1/3"
This beautiful butterfly is seen in much of the eastern United States.
It mimics the Pipevine Swallowtail which is toxic to birds. But it has no swallowtail.
3" to 3 3/8"
The Question Mark Butterfly has a question mark on the underside of its hind-wing.
It is from southern Canada and in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, except Fl.
2 3/8" to 2 5/8"
The wings of the Longwing Butterflies are much longer then they are wide.
Longwings are actually part of the Brush-footed Butterflies, but who looks at their feet. It is much easier to see their long wings.
Zebra Longwings are the Florida State Butterfly.
They live several months longer than other butterflies.
2 3/4" to 3 1/2"
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
The Gulf Fritillary is one of the most common types of butterflies in Florida.
They have orange wings with dark spots.
2 1/2" to 3 3/4"
When you see the underside, you think they are different types of butterflies until you see both sides.
They have large silvery spots on the underside of their wings.
Sulphurs and Whites are just like their names imply, either white or sulphur yellow colored.
They are small, but more numerous. They are the most common types of butterflies.
You may have seen Sulphurs puddling like this on damp soil. It is the males getting minerals out of the soil.
When the Sulphurs fly, they don't float, they are always flapping their wings.
2 1/4" to 2 3/4"
I would always see white butterflies in the farm lands of California.
1 1/4" to 1 7/8"
Skippers 'skip' from flower to flower. Their wings are small in proportion to their body, so they fly in a hurry. They are a very common type of butterfly.
There are hundreds of skipper types of butterflies that are difficult for amateurs to distinguish.
The delightful little Checkered Skipper is seen from southern Canada to Argentina.
3/4" to 1 1/4"
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"
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"
We quite often see butterflies visiting our garden flowers. But, if there are so many moths, why don't we see more moths?
One of the main differences between moths and butterflies is moths are mostly nocturnal and butterflies are active only during the daytime.
The Sphinx Moths are a large group of moths. They are fast flyers and range in size up to 4".
The Luna Moth is a green color. It is seen across the United States and Canada, up to 5 1/2"
Butterflies and moths both have scales on their wings and bodies. (Their scales are actually modified hairs that are called scales.)
The moth's antennae are feathered or leaf-like. Whereas the antennae of butterflies are long, smooth and slender. Generally there is a small bulb on the end of a butterfly's antennae.
Most moths have duller colors. The dull colors don't attract the attention of predators during the daytime while the moths are resting.
Moths have a frenulum, which is a wing-coupling device. This mechanism locks their fore and hind-wing together. So when they fly, their wings fly in unison. Butterflies don't have that mechanism.
The Emperor Moth is native to the British Isles. 2" to 3"
Moths have fringed antennae and furry bodies and wings.
Eyed Hawk-moths are native to England and Wales. 2 3/4" to 3"
Many butterflies and moths have an eye-spot for defense.
The eye-spot is a defense mechanism. A bird would peck the eye-spot instead of the actual eye. So the moth or butterfly would only lose a bit of wing instead of their whole head.
Both moths and butterflies go through complete metamorphosis. Then there is a difference between a moth and butterfly.
That's how the beautiful silk clothes are made in the orient. They raise the silk moths and collect their silk to make clothing. No wonder real silk costs so much.
Then the cocoon hatches into an
adult moth. And the chrysalis hatches into an adult butterfly.
you know the names of the butterflies is not as important, as
enjoying these wonderful garden gifts.