You are currently viewing Types of Butterflies – with 27 Pictures

Types of Butterflies – with 27 Pictures

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Nature

I saw a really cool looking butterfly and wondered what kind it was.

 

  1. Sleepy Orange Butterfly

This North American native butterfly comes from a family named Pieridae. Coliadinae is the sub-family of Sleepy Orange butterflies.

These species are in abundance in the regions like West Indies and Costa Rica. The habitat includes swamps, roadsides, wet meadows, open woodlands, wood edges, waterways, and valleys.

The name “Sleepy Orange” comes from the bright orange color of this butterfly. The underside color of this butterfly varies depending on the seasons.

During summer, the orange color turns into a bright yellow color. The red markings also start to appear. On the other hand, the wings turn brown during the winter season.

Most of the people are interested in their name “Sleepy Orange”. There is a widespread theory that the narrow black spot located on the forewing appears to be closed eyes. Hence, the word “Sleepy” joins the name.

 

  1. Monarch Butterfly

As the name suggests, these are the king of all butterflies. Monarch butterflies are the most beautiful of all the species. Their distinctive color combination makes them easy to identify.

The stunning color combination includes black, orange, and white. The markings also have vibrant colors are a warning to predators because they are toxic. The black veins and white dots also add more flare to the overall appearance.

These butterflies are common in areas like South America, North America, and Central America. They are also found in other regions like Western Europe, India, and Australia.

The wingspan of an adult monarch butterfly can be as long as 5 inches.

The upper area of the wings has a tawny orange color. The black margins white spots also look gorgeous.

I saw the monarch butterfly, it felt like time itself had paused just for me to savor this encounter. I was strolling through my garden, which I had lovingly tended to create a sanctuary not just for myself, but for the creatures it could sustain. The air was filled with the gentle hum of bees and the sweet scent of blossoms, but it was the delicate flapping of wings that caught my eye.

There, among the vibrant blooms of my milkweed plants—carefully chosen for their importance to monarchs—was a butterfly so enchanting that it seemed like a fragment of a dream. Its wings, each one spanning roughly 3.7 to 4.1 inches from tip to tip, were a canvas of brilliant orange, veined with black lines and bordered with white freckles. The way the sunlight filtered through them, turning them almost translucent, was mesmerizing.

I watched in silent reverence as the monarch floated from flower to flower, its proboscis uncurling to sip nectar with an elegant precision. I felt a surge of pride knowing that my garden was a rest stop on this incredible insect’s migration journey, which could span thousands of miles. The monarch before me was possibly one of the fourth generation of the year, the one tasked with the monumental voyage to the overwintering sites in Mexico.

As it flitted gracefully around me, I couldn’t help but marvel at its resilience and the sheer miracle of its life cycle. From a tiny egg to a voracious caterpillar, to the mystery of the chrysalis, and then emerging as this weightless being of air and color, the monarch’s transformation was a testament to nature’s wonders.

After a few moments, the butterfly lifted off the milkweed and caught a gentle breeze, beginning its dance anew. I watched it until it became just a speck of orange against the vast blue sky, feeling fortunate to have witnessed such a moment of natural beauty. It was an encounter that lingered with me, a reminder of the delicate balance of life and the joy that could be found in a simple, fleeting visit.

 

 

  1. Red Admiral Butterfly

This is another famous butterfly, which is known for its strong flying ability. When compared to the species that we usually observe in parks and gardens, the Red Admiral butterfly appears to be a large species.

These butterflies are highly distinctive, as they mainly come from Britain and Ireland. They belong to the Nymphalids family. The wingspan of this butterfly ranges from 67 to 72 mm.

These are the well-characterized and medium-sized butterflies. They are popular for their black color. Besides, the orange bands and white wings give a distinctive look to these butterflies.

Red Admiral butterflies are normally found in warmer areas. Nevertheless, they also migrate to the northern areas during the autumn and spring seasons.

The most interesting fact about these butterflies is their ability to guard territory. They possess incredible territorial habits. The female species will only mate with those males, which hold their territory.

In addition, they also display irregular and erratic flights. The males normally wait for the female butterflies at the highest available ridge. Later on, the female will lay her eggs at the mating location.

The habitats of this particular butterfly include moist woods, yards, marshes, moist fields, parks, and fields. They can be spotted in all types of habitats ranging from tundra to sub-tropics.

 

  1. Karner Blue Butterfly

It is a delicate and small butterfly. It was initially listed as the endangered sub-species of the small blue butterfly. Previously, the Karner blue butterflies were found in abundance in the northern areas of blue lupine.

This particular range starts from Southern Maine and stretches to Eastern Minnesota. In the present era, these species are found in a few areas of central and western Wisconsin. Some of them are also found in selected areas of western Michigan.

These butterflies are reasonably small. Their wingspan can be no more than one inch. The male and female Karner Blue butterflies have different colors.

The females have a grayish-brown color with small blue spots in the upper area. Besides, the male Karner Blue has dark blue or silvery topside. The narrow black margins also look graceful.

During a hiking trip in the serene landscapes of northern Minnesota, I experienced an encounter that would etch itself into my memory with vivid hues and delicate fluttering. It was a warm summer morning, and the trail was alive with the buzz of nature’s daily hustle. I was traversing a path that wove through a mixture of tall pine trees and open meadows, my backpack snug against my shoulders—it was a sturdy 30-liter pack, filled with essentials and weighed down by a camera I had brought in hopes of capturing the wilderness’s beauty.

As I emerged into a sunlit clearing, something caught my eye—a flutter of brilliant blue that seemed almost too vibrant to be real. I paused, squinting against the sunlight, and there they were: Karner blue butterflies. They were flitting about with such grace and ease, their wings a striking azure that stood out against the green backdrop of the meadow grasses.

I knew immediately what they were because the Karner blue is a rare species, one that I had only read about in conservation articles detailing their endangered status. To see them here, alive and well, was nothing short of magical. Each butterfly was diminutive, their wingspans barely reaching an inch across, yet their color was so intense that they didn’t need size to make an impression.

I slowly unshouldered my pack and carefully extracted my camera, determined to document this moment. As I zoomed in, I could see the delicate patterns on their wings—tiny spots and borders of white and black that accentuated their blue. They danced from flower to flower, their tiny bodies working diligently to gather nectar, completely unfazed by my presence.

I must have spent a good half hour just watching them, taking photos, and reveling in the quiet joy of the scene. It was a personal revelation, a reminder of the fragile beauty that existed in hidden corners of the world. I felt privileged to witness such a sight, aware that places like this were the Karner blue’s last refuges.

 

  1. Blue Morpho Butterfly

The Blue Morpho butterfly has a vibrant blue color. The edges are jet black. These are among the largest butterflies. Their wingspan can range from 5-8 inches approx.

The Blue Morpho butterflies contain microscopic scales at the backside of the wings. These scales reflect the light. This gives them a sparkling blue appearance.

On the other hand, the lower side of the wings is quite dull. However, the presence of pale brown color assists them while they camouflage to avoid predators.

These butterflies are found in tropical forests of different regions including Latin America, Mexico, and Columbia. The adults are normally roaming close to the forest floor. They prefer to reside in small trees and shrubs.

These butterflies have a dual mechanism for tasting their diet. Apart from tasting with the sensors on their feet, these butterflies can also smell and taste their food with the air around their antennae.

    1. Brush-footed Butterfly

These species relate to a family of butterflies known as the Nymphalidae. These butterflies are also popular as “Four-Footed Butterflies”. The reason being is the fact that they only have four functional legs.

The length of their wingspan is between 1.5 to 3.5 inches. It is known to be the largest family of butterflies with over 6000 species. The most regularly seen colors of these butterflies include yellow, brown, and white.

 

  1. American Snout Butterfly

The American Snout butterfly is also known as the snout butterfly. It belongs to the sub-family “Libytheinae”, which relates to the family Nymphalidae.

These butterflies are common in North and South America. The name snout butterfly refers to its long snouts. It has a wingspan ranging from 3 to 5 cm.

The palms with a snout-like structure are usually extended to the front. American Snout butterflies are relatively small and come in dull or less vibrant colors.

The upper area of their wings has a brownish-black color. There are some orange patches too. The hind wings have a purple-gray shade.

The elongated snout looks fascinating. Most people do inquire about its purpose. According to some researchers, this long snout helps these butterflies to camouflage.

These butterflies appear to be dry leaves, which assists in avoiding predators. Even butterfly enthusiasts can’t locate them easily due to their long snouts and cryptically colored wings.

  1. Swallowtail Butterfly

Swallowtail butterflies also have a large family (Papilionidae) consisting of more than 500 species. These butterflies are extremely large and colorful too.

They are among the most widespread species. Hence, they are available in almost every continent excluding Antarctica. These Swallowtail butterflies gained this name due to their hindwing extensions, which look like a tail.

Nevertheless, this tail-like structure isn’t available in some of their species. The length of their wingspan ranges from 8 to 90 mm.

Generally, these butterflies love to thrive in temperate and tropical habitats. Some of their species are also living in sub-tropical regions such as Southeast and East Asia.

Talking about the colors, these butterflies are available in various attractive colors. These colors range from yellow, red, green, and orange. The blue, green, and black colors serve as a vivid background.

Milk parsley is the sole diet of these butterflies. However, some of their species also feed on wild carrots. They occasionally migrate to grasslands near the south coast of England.

 

  1. American Painted Lady Butterfly

Also referred to as American Lady, these butterflies are the largest species in Northern America. Apart from being famous for their attractive appearance, they are also known for the nests made by their caterpillars.

These nests are masterpieces and only the caterpillars of this species are skilled enough for making them. A few of the species are native to Southern Canada. These butterflies are also found in Europe.

The wingspan covers an area of 1.75 to 2.40 inches. The colors of their wings include a mixture of orange and brown. The upper surface comes with black margins. The front side also contains white spots.

Normally, the habitat of these butterflies includes those places that are open and have less vegetation. Hence, they are commonly found in areas such as dunes, forest edges, and meadows.

 

  1. Mourning Cloak Butterfly

These species belong to the Nymphalidae family. It is found in New Hampshire and North America. A few of its species tend to reside in Florida as well as in the Gulf states.

The habitat of a Mourning Cloak butterfly consists of open woodlands, forest borders, sunny glades, grooves, parks, and gardens. These butterflies have a wingspan that can grow up to 3.3 inches.

They have a stunning maroon or red color. The margins are creamy yellow, which are also reflective. After becoming a fully grown adult, these butterflies can also develop different markings.

 

  1. European Skipper Butterfly

This particular butterfly relates to the family Hesperiidae. The sub-family of the European Skipper butterfly is Hesperiinae. “Essex Skipper” is another common name for this species.

The length of their wingspan can reach up to 2.9 cm. They apparently seem identical to small skipper butterflies. However, there is one feature that creates a distinction between these two.

This relates to the color of their antennae. The antennae of a European Skipper butterfly is dark black. On the contrary, the antennae of smaller skipper have vivid orange color.

The wings have an orange color with delicate black margins. There are also some white spots in both the upper and lower areas of the wings.

 

  1. Creamy Marblewing Butterfly

This particular butterfly is often referred to as the “Large Marble”. The prime reason for this nickname is the fact that these are the largest among other butterflies of this species. This is another western species. Its major population is found in northern New Mexico and stretches to South Alaska. The lower side of the wings has marbled greenish and cream colors.

The tips and edges of their wings have black markings. The most noticeable characteristic of this butterfly is the presence of furry scales on its head. The round eyes also have a bright green color.

 

  1. Small Copper Butterfly

Also known as “Fat Flying Insect”, the Small Copper butterfly is a beautiful creature. Their vibrant forewings come in copper color. The major population of this butterfly is living in the UK and Ireland.

It has a wingspan that ranges from 32 to 35 mm. The upper part of their wing has a bright and shiny yellow color. The margins are brown with black spots.

The lower side of the wings has a bright orange color with black spots. The margins also have reddish stripes. The major habitats include dry slopes and rocky outcrops.

 

Types of Butterflies Depending on Their Habitat

Usually, butterflies are categorized depending on their species, and families. However, here, we have separated the different species of butterflies depending on their habitats.

So, let’s see what we got here.

  1. Woodland Butterflies

These butterflies are normally more colorful than other species. This is so, as they have access to numerous types of food sources. This kind of habitat contains the most species of butterflies. Some of them are discussed below.

Map Butterfly: These butterflies have an orange color in spring. However, the color changes to black in the summer season. Image:

 

 

Pine Butterfly: This type of butterfly has a beautiful white color with black veins. The wing bars are also black. Picture:

 

 

Acadian Hairstreak: The lower side of this butterfly is gray. In addition, the upper side contains a brown-gray color. The hindwings also contain a small tail. Photo:

 

Comma Butterfly: The underwings of this butterfly have a mottled brown color along with white marks. These marks are identical to a comma, which gives them the name “Comma Butterfly”. The upper areas of their wings contain a combination of brown and orange colors.

 

  1. Grassland Butterflies

These are the butterflies, which are commonly found in the grasslands and meadows. They have bright colors and are attracted to a wide range of flowers that are native to grasslands.

Below are some of the most common types of these butterflies.

Crescentspot: These butterflies have brown and red wings. The wings also contain white spots that are similar to a crescent.

 

 

Viceroy: It is a species, which shows patterns identical to a monarch butterfly. These butterflies have a dark orange color. Besides, the black veins give them a distinctive look. There are numerous white spots at the edges of their wings.

Monarchs: These butterflies have a reddish-orange color. They also have black veins. The wings have a black border with some white spots.

 

  1. Coastal Butterflies

Coastal butterflies are generally found in coastal regions, canals, and salt marshes. Some popular species of these types of butterflies are listed as under.

Green Hairstreak: These are small butterflies. They are so rare that you can only witness them in regions like Golden Gate Heights, San Francisco, and Presidio’s coastal bluffs. These are their original habitats.

 

 

Red Admiral: You can easily distinguish these butterflies due to their black forewings. These wings are also marked with white spots and red bars and.

Sleepy Orange butterfly: The upper side of the wings has a bright orange color. The black borders give them a distinctive look. The hindwings have a deep butter color during summer. In the colder months, their color might range from brick red to dark brown.

 

  1. Mountain Butterflies

The cold nights and short summers of mountain areas make it difficult for the butterflies to survive. However, a wide range of butterflies does exist in mountain ranges.

These butterflies have dark colors. This allows them to absorb the maximum heat of the sun. They have long and hairy scales, which helps them to retain the body heat for maximum time.

Below are a few of the species that live in the mountains.

Piedmont Ringlet: These butterflies have different colors that range from dark brown to black. They also have red bands at the upper wings.

 

Creamy Marblewing: This butterfly is a small species having a one-inch wingspan. The underside of this species has two major colors i.e. green and marbled cream.

Moorland Clouded Yellow: These butterflies are available in two different colors including pale yellow and lemon yellow. The upper side of the wings also contains black borders.

 

 

Arctic Fritillary: This butterfly has a distinctive dark orange color. There are chevron markings and black spots at the upper side of their wings.

Northern Blue: The upper side of the male’s wings is iridescent blue. On the contrary, the upper side of a female upperside has brown color with orange spots.

 

 

Endangered Species of Butterflies

Normally, butterflies rely on suitable habitats for their survival. Within a couple of decades, environmental changes have also destroyed the major habitats of butterflies.

The biggest cause of destruction is the changes made to these habitats by humans. The Californian Xerces Blue butterfly was last observed in the nearby areas of San Francisco in 1941. Hence, we presume that this type of butterfly is now extinct.

In the early 1800s, the Large Copper butterfly also became extinct. Once a particular species of butterfly is extinct, it’s gone forever.

Some other endangered species of butterflies include:

 

Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing

This type of butterfly owns an amazingly huge wingspan that can be as wide as one foot. It is the world’s largest butterfly that is still alive. However, it is found only in New Guinea rainforests.

Apart from its size, this particular butterfly is extremely beautiful. Talking about its colors, Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing comes in different stunning colors. These include neon green, aquamarine, and brown color.

The brown wings also have yellow spots to give these butterflies a distinctive appearance. Since these butterflies are rarely sighted, they are included in the list of endangered species.

 

Zebra Swallowtail

This is another large-sized butterfly with a wingspan of 2.5 to 4 inches. They usually have green wings with black, blue, and yellow bands. This is why they are referred to as the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly.

These are scarcely found in the selected areas of Florida and Texas. Hence, these butterflies are listed on the list of endangered species.

 

Key Features of a Butterfly

The word Lepidoptera means “scaled wings”. This term usually refers to moths and butterflies. Both these types of species are insects as well as arthropods. Hence, they are included in the order Lepidoptera. Some of the prominent features of butterfly include:

  • 4 large and attractive wings
  • Presence of scales on their wings
  • Mouthparts for sucking liquid diet
  • Main body consists of head, abdomen, and thorax
  • Butterflies have one exoskeleton and two antennae
  • Huge compound eyes
  • Like most other insects, a butterfly has six legs

 

Migrating

Migrating is another way that allows butterflies to escape extreme cold weather. A few species such as Cabbage Butterflies and Painted Ladies can fly no more than a hundred miles.

Some other species like Monarch butterfly is capable of traveling thousands of miles in search of a suitable weather condition.

Especially, monarchs are famous as the champions of butterfly migration. These butterflies can cover over 4000 miles while making a round trip.

While migrating, females don’t mate. They only lay eggs at a different locations. In most cases, offspring complete the journey that their parents had started.

 

Amazing Facts about Butterflies

  1. Wings of a Butterfly are Transparent

You might not believe it but it’s true. The wings of a butterfly are actually transparent. They are made of transparent material known as chitin, which is a type of protein.

The colors of a butterfly’s wings are due to the presence of thousands of scales. These miniature scales are perfectly arranged to create different patterns and color combinations.

  1. Butterflies have a Shorter Life Span

On average, adult butterflies can live for 3 to 4 weeks. However, their entire lifecycle (including metamorphosis) ranges between two and eight months.

However, there are a few exceptions. There is one type of a butterfly, which lives only for 24 hours. On the other hand, migratory butterflies such as Monarch can live for eight months.

  1. Butterflies have Taste Buds in their Feet

It sounds weird, yet it’s a normal thing for the butterflies to taste their food with their feet. This is so, as the taste buds or receptors are located at their feet.

These receptors help butterflies to locate a suitable flower by analyzing its flavor. Butterflies can even locate and identify the key nutrients required for their survival with help of their feet.

  1. Butterflies Don’t Eat-They Just Drink

Butterflies don’t have a regular mouth or teeth to bite or chew food. They only have a proboscis, which acts like a straw. Hence, butterflies rely on a liquid diet, which mainly consists of flower nectar.

  1. Butterfly Uses its Wings to Escape Predators

Butterflies have to struggle to live their already shorter lifespan. They have to stay alive for the mating. This ensures the existence of their species.

However, the most obvious threat to butterflies is from predators. To avoid them, butterflies use their wings to stay protected. When resting on a plant, butterflies tend to spread their wings.

The vibrant colors and striking patterns frighten the predators. This is so, as bright colors are the indication of danger. Hence, predators avoid messing with the butterflies.

  1. Butterflies Can’t See Much Further

The eyes of a butterfly can only see up to 10-12 feet. The eyesight of a butterfly is good within this range. However, anything beyond such a limit appears to be blurry.

On the contrary, butterflies can distinguish colors easily. They can even see a variety of other colors that are invisible to us. Their wings also have ultraviolet colors and markings. This helps them to identify their species.

These colors and patterns are extremely useful when it comes to identifying a potential mate. Flowers also have ultraviolet markings and colors. This helps them to attract pollinators such as butterflies and bees.

  1. Giant Swallowtail Butterfly is the Biggest Butterfly

As the name suggests, the giant swallowtail butterfly is the biggest of all species of butterflies. The wingspan of this butterfly ranges between four to seven inches.

The hindwings of this butterfly contain long tail-like structures. Hence, they are named swallowtail butterflies.

  1. Butterflies Possess Four, not Two Wings

Talking about the wings of a butterfly, they look astonishingly beautiful and fascinating. However, there is a misconception that butterflies have only two wings.

Apparently, we see only two wings. Nevertheless, in reality, butterflies have four wings. The wings near the head of a butterfly are known as forewings. On the contrary, the wings at the rear end are named hindwings.