Photos and information about 30 types of butterflies seen in the United States

  • What types of butterflies do you see around your house?

Butterflies have amazed people for centuries. It's amazing how a caterpillar can change into a beautiful butterfly.

Some people confuse Monarchs with the Queen butterflies.

How do you tell a Monarch butterfly from a Queen?

Popular types of butterflies seen in the United StatesIt's fun to name the butterflies!

types of butterflies seen in the united states

Click on the images to go down the page for more information.

swallowtail butterflies

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.

black swallowtail

Black Swallowtail ButterflyBlack Swallowtail

They have an orange spot on the back of the hind-wing.

The orange spot has black in the center of it. 2 1/2" to 3 1/2"

art by carol May

It is my joy to paint butterflies and all sorts of other things.

And to teach budding artist all about painting.

black swallowtail

Black SwallowtailBlack Swallowtail

Black Swallowtails are common in the eastern US and down to South America.

It looks like a bird may have gotten the left swallowtail, but the butterfly is still okay.

black swallowtail

Black Swallowtail, femaleBlack Swallowtail, female

The male and female Black Swallowtails may differ somewhat in their coloring.

Some resemble the Spicebrush, but lack the orange spot.

Spicebrush Swallowtail

Spicebrush SwallowtailSpicebrush Swallowtail

The bluish on the hind-wings may be blue or white. The Spicebrush has a solid orange spot on the back of the hind-wing.
3 1/2" to 4 3/4"

Pipevine Swallowtail

Pipevine SwallowtailPipevine 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"

Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtail ButterflyGiant Swallowtail Butterfly

The Giant Swallowtail Butterfly is a large 6".

It is found east of the Rockies to South America.

The top is bright yellow and black.

Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly undersideGiant Swallowtail

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.

Palamedes swallowtail

Palamedes SwallowtailPalamedes Swallowtail

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"

Zebra Swallowtail

Zebra Swallowtail ButterflyZebra Swallowtail

The Zebra Swallowtail of the eastern US may be confused with the Tiger Swallowtail, but it is noticeably smaller with no yellow on it.
2 1/2" to 3 1/2"

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger SwallowtailEastern Tiger Swallowtail

This stunning butterfly is one of my favorite types of butterflies.

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

Western Tiger Swallowtail

Western Tiger SwallowtailWestern Tiger Swallowtail

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"

Female Tiger Swallowtail

Female Tiger Swallowtail ButterflyFemale Tiger Swallowtail

There is a brown form of the female Tiger Swallowtail.

Swallowtail Butterflies

Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies pudlingTiger Swallowtail Butterflies

Male swallowtail butterflies getting minerals from the wet soil.

milkweed butterflies

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

You may see the Monarch Butterfly from southern Canada, across the United States, down to South America and out in some of the Pacific islands including Hawaii and New Zealand.
3 1/2" to 4"

Queen Butterfly

Queen ButterflyQueen Butterfly

The Queen Butterfly is seen from southern California to So. Georgia, Florida to Argentina.

The Queen lacks the black veins of the Monarch.
3" to 3 1/2"

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch ButterflyMonarch Butterfly

The Monarch has no white spots out in the middle of the fore-wing.

Queen Butterfly

Queen ButterflyQueen Butterfly

The Queen's underside resembles the Monarch, but it has white spots.

brush-footed butterflies

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.

painted lady

Painted LadyPainted Lady

This lovely little butterfly is seen throughout many parts of the world.
2" to 2 1/4"

Painted Lady

Painted Lady, undersidePainted Lady, underside

Painted Lady butterflies have very interesting patterns on the underside of their wings.

American Painted Lady

American Painted LadyAmerican 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"

Great Spangled Fritillary

Great Spangled FritillaryGreat Spangled Fritillary

The Great Spangled Fritillary is common throughout much of the eastern United States.
2 1/8" to 3"

Buckeye Butterfly

Buckeye ButterflyBuckeye 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

Red Admiral ButterflyRed Admiral Butterfly

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"

White Peacock Butterfly

White Peacock ButterflyWhite Peacock Butterfly

The White Peacock Butterfly is seen in south Texas, part of Florida and down through Mexico, Central America and into Venezuela.
2 1/8" to 2 3/4"

Pearl Crescent

Pearl CrescentPearl Crescent

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"

Red-spotted Purple

Red-spotted Purple ButterflyRed-spotted Purple

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"

Question Mark Butterfly

Question Mark ButterflyQuestion Mark Butterfly

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"

Viceroy Butterfly

Viceroy ButterflyViceroy Butterfly

The Viceroy may be confused with the Monarch, but it is smaller.

It has a heavy black band across the hind-wing. Monarchs don't have the black band.

Viceroy Butterfly

Viceroy Butterfly, undersideViceroy Butterfly, underside

It is seen in the United States east of California. The band on the hind-wings also shows on the underside.
2 1/2" to 3"

longwing types of butterflies

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 Longwing

Zebra Longwing ButterflyZebra 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 ButterflyJulia 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 ButterflyGulf Fritillary

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"

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary, undersideGulf Fritillary, underside

You may 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

Sulphurs PuddlingSulphurs Puddling

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.

Cloudless Sulphur

Cloudless SulphursCloudless Sulphur

When the Sulphurs fly, they don't float, they are always flapping their wings.
2 1/4" to 2 3/4"

Cabbage White

Cabbage WhiteCabbage White

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.


A Typical SkipperA Typical Skipper

There are hundreds of skipper types of butterflies that are difficult for amateurs to distinguish.

Checkered Skipper

Checkered SkipperCheckered Skipper

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

Long-tailed Skippers

Long-tailed SkippersLong-tailed Skippers

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 SkipperSilver-spotted Skipper

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

a moth is different from a butterfly

Moths look furry and are normally duller colored than butterflies.

You see them more at night-time hanging around lights. And when they land, they sit with their wings out. Butterflies normally sit with their wings lifted up.

more ways to tell a butterfly from a moth

Sphinx MothSphinx Moth

The Sphinx Moths are a large group of moths. They are fast flyers and may range in size up to 4".

Luna MothLuna Moth

The Luna Moth is a green color. It is seen across the United States and Canada, up to 5 1/2"

It is fun to learn the different types of butterflies in your yard. Whether you know the names of the butterflies is not as important, as enjoying these wonderful gifts in the garden.

There are 426 identified moths and butterflies in Missouri. Check it out

related pages

  • Monarch Butterfly

    The Monarch Butterfly is loved and admired for their beauty and courage in many parts of the world. Where they live, identify, Monarch migration, mimics and more

  • Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle

    Photos and description of Monarch Butterfly life cycle from butterfly eggs, caterpillar, pupa, chrysalis to the adult butterfly, amazing butterfly metamorphosis.

  • Flowers for Butterflies

    Butterflies eat flower nectar. So plant some flowers for butterflies to provide butterfly food. Butterfly weed and butterfly bush are favorite butterfly flowers.

  • Difference Between Moth and Butterfly

    What is the difference betweenmoth andbutterfly? How can you tell a moth vs a butterfly? Moths and butterflies are related, there are distinct differences.

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