30 Butterfly Species in Alberta
In Alberta, the diverse landscape and climate provide a suitable environment for various butterfly species to thrive.
With over 150 species of butterflies in the province, there’s no shortage of fascinating fluttering creatures to observe.
Let’s take a closer look at 30 of Alberta’s most remarkable butterfly species that you may come across during your next nature walk.
Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
Let’s dive into the world of the Mourning Cloak butterfly, an enchanting species that can be found in Alberta.
The Mourning Cloak, also known as Nymphalis antiopa, has a fascinating life cycle and unique features that make it a beloved visitor to gardens and natural spaces.
- Habitat: Mourning Cloak butterflies can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, parks, gardens, and even urban areas.
- Appearance: These butterflies are distinguished by their deep maroon wings with a bright yellow border and blue spots along the edges.
- Size: Their wingspan can range from 62 to 75 mm (2.4 to 3 inches), making them medium-sized butterflies.
- Diet: Adult Mourning Cloaks primarily feed on tree sap, rotting fruit, and nectar from flowers.
- Reproduction: Females lay their eggs in clusters on the twigs of host plants, and the caterpillars hatch to feast on the leaves.
- Lifespan: Mourning Cloak butterflies have an impressive lifespan, with adults living up to 11 months.
- Host Plants: The larvae prefer feeding on willow, elm, poplar, and hackberry trees.
Whether you’re a butterfly enthusiast or a casual observer, the Mourning Cloak is sure to capture your attention with its stunning appearance and intriguing habits.
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
The Painted Lady, an elegant butterfly species, exhibits exquisite patterns on its wings that can leave you in awe.
Its remarkable qualities make it an excellent representative of Alberta’s diverse butterfly species.
Let’s explore some fascinating facts about the Painted Lady:
- Habitat: Found in a wide array of environments, such as gardens, meadows, forests, and even deserts, the Painted Lady is known for its adaptability.
- Appearance: Its upper wings showcase shades of orange with black and white patches on the outer edges, while its underwings reveal a spectacular combination of brown, black, and grey with minute white specks.
- Size: Sporting a wingspan of approximately 5 to 9 centimeters, the Painted Lady is a moderately sized butterfly.
- Diet: Preferring the nectar of flowers, this butterfly can be seen pollinating plants like thistles, asters, and goldenrods.
- Reproduction: Females lay pale green, cylinder-shaped eggs on the leaves of host plants to ensure their offspring’s survival.
- Lifespan: With an average life cycle of around 4 to 6 weeks, the Painted Lady goes through multiple generations in a year.
- Host Plants: The Painted Lady’s caterpillars feed on a variety of plants which include thistles, mallow, and hollyhocks.
Next time you encounter this captivating creature, take a moment to appreciate its splendid display of colors and patterns while pondering the unique life of the Painted Lady.
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis)
The Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, scientifically known as Papilio canadensis, is a gorgeous butterfly species native to Alberta.
This species is often seen fluttering around during the warmer months, enchanting observers with its striking appearance and graceful movements.
Let’s discover more about the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail:
- Habitat: Canadian Tiger Swallowtails are ubiquitous across Alberta and other parts of Canada. They can also be found in the United States, typically in regions with a similar climate. They prefer wooded areas, parks, and gardens.
- Appearance: This butterfly is easily identified by its bold yellow and black tiger-striped wings. It also has a distinctive tail-like extension on the rear of its hind wings, which is common among swallowtail butterflies.
- Size: The wingspan of a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail can range from 7 to 10 cm.
- Diet: Adult butterflies primarily feed on nectar from various flowers. They have a preference for lilacs, wild cherries, and milkweeds.
- Reproduction: During the mating season, females lay eggs on appropriate host plants. The eggs develop into green larvae, which later pupate into adult butterflies.
- Lifespan: The adult butterflies live for approximately one month during summer.
- Host Plants: The larvae mainly feed on the leaves of deciduous trees such as aspen, willow, and birch.
The Canadian Tiger Swallowtail is an emblematic species of Alberta, bringing together their vibrant beauty, versatility, and adaptability to nature on full display.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a visually striking butterfly species commonly found throughout Alberta.
Known for their vibrant colors and bold patterns, this species is a delight to observe in the wild.
Let’s learn more about the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail:
- Habitat: This species thrives in diverse habitats, including deciduous forests, woodlands, meadows, riversides, and suburban gardens.
- Appearance: They’re characterized by their yellow wings with black tiger-like stripes, along with blue and orange spots near the tail.
- Size: With a wingspan ranging from 3 to 5 inches, they’re considered one of the largest butterflies in North America.
- Diet: As adults, they feed on nectar from a variety of flowers. The caterpillars primarily feed on the leaves of various host plants.
- Reproduction: Female butterflies lay their eggs on host plants, which the caterpillar will feed upon after hatching.
- Lifespan: The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail has a relatively short lifespan, averaging around 6 to 14 days in the adult form.
- Host Plants: Some of their preferred host plants include tulip trees, wild cherry, sweet bay, and aspen.
Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus)
The Western Tiger Swallowtail is a stunning butterfly species found in Alberta, characterized by its distinctive appearance and habits.
Get familiar with this beautiful butterfly by exploring some key facts below:
- Habitat: They inhabit riparian areas, woodlands, gardens, and meadows with their larval host plants, such as willow, cottonwood, and aspen trees.
- Appearance: These butterflies flaunt yellow wings adorned with black stripes and blue and orange spots near their lower edges, resembling a tiger’s pattern.
- Size: The wingspan of a Western Tiger Swallowtail ranges from 7 to 10 centimeters, making it one of the larger butterfly species in Alberta.
- Diet: Adults feed mainly on the nectar from flowers, while caterpillars depend on tree foliage, primarily willows and cottonwoods.
- Reproduction: Females lay their eggs individually on host plant leaves. Caterpillars undergo five instar stages before transforming into a chrysalis and eventually emerging as an adult butterfly.
- Lifespan: Adult Western Tiger Swallowtails have a short lifespan of approximately one month, while the entire lifecycle, from egg to adult, takes approximately 6-8 weeks.
- Host Plants: Caterpillars primarily feed on leaves of willow, cottonwood, and aspen trees, though they may also use other deciduous tree species.
Two-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata)
The Two-tailed Swallowtail, known scientifically as Papilio multicaudata, is a stunning butterfly species native to Alberta.
This butterfly is known for its large size and distinct characteristics, which sets it apart from other swallowtails.
Let’s take a closer look at some of its notable features:
- Habitat: This swallowtail species can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, gardens, and meadows in Alberta.
- Appearance: The Two-tailed Swallowtail has a distinctive pattern of yellow and black stripes, with blue and orange markings near the lower edge of its wings. What makes it stand out are the two long tails extending from the hindwings.
- Size: This species is one of the largest butterfly species in Alberta, with a wingspan of 80-100mm.
- Diet: The adult butterflies feed on nectar from various flowers, while the caterpillars feed on the leaves of their host plants.
- Reproduction: Female butterflies lay their eggs on host plants and have one to two broods per year.
- Lifespan: Adults have a relatively short life, spanning from a few days up to two weeks.
- Host Plants: Larval host plants include the leaves of apple, cherry, and other trees in the rose family (Rosaceae).
By learning about this magnificent butterfly, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for the diversity of the species that inhabit the beautiful landscapes of Alberta.
Old World Swallowtail (Papilio machaon)
The Old World Swallowtail is a beautiful butterfly species native to Alberta and is often admired for its striking visual characteristics.
Let’s explore this fascinating butterfly further:
- Habitat: Old World Swallowtails can be found in a wide variety of environments, including grasslands, meadows, and gardens.
- Appearance: These butterflies are characterized by their yellow and black markings, with red and blue spots along the hind wings, and long, distinctive tail-like appendages.
- Size: Old World Swallowtails have a wingspan of around 3.5 to 4.3 inches (9 to 11 cm).
- Diet: The adult butterflies feed mainly on nectar from flowers, while the caterpillars munch on various herbs and plants.
- Reproduction: Female butterflies lay their eggs singly on host plants; the emerging caterpillars then feed on the plant leaves.
- Lifespan: They typically have a lifespan of around 6 to 12 weeks in their adult form.
- Host Plants: Common host plants for the Old World Swallowtail include species in the carrot family, such as fennel and dill.
This captivating butterfly not only adds a splash of color to Alberta’s natural landscape, but also plays an essential role in pollination, contributing to the overall health of the region’s ecosystem.
Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)
The Black Swallowtail is a stunning butterfly species commonly found in Alberta. With its eye-catching features and fascinating life cycle, this butterfly is worth getting to know better.
So, let’s dive deeper into the world of the Black Swallowtail:
- Habitat: Black Swallowtails can be generally found in open or disturbed areas such as gardens, meadows, and fields.
- Appearance: These butterflies boast black wings with yellow or white spots along the edges, and their hindwings feature blue and red-orange markings. Females tend to have larger and more predominant blue markings.
- Size: Black Swallowtails have a wingspan ranging from 3 to 4 inches, with males being slightly smaller than their female counterparts.
- Diet: As adults, they feed on flowers for nectar, while their caterpillars consume the foliage of various host plants.
- Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on the leaves of host plants, giving rise to caterpillars that later transform into chrysalises before emerging as adult butterflies.
- Lifespan: Adult Black Swallowtails typically live for about 10 to 14 days, though their entire life cycle lasts around a month.
- Host Plants: Their larvae primarily feed on plants from the parsley family, such as dill, fennel, and Queen Anne’s lace.
With their striking appearance and fascinating life cycle, Black Swallowtails are truly a remarkable species that can be admired and appreciated throughout Alberta.
Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon)
The Anise Swallowtail is a visually stunning butterfly species found in Alberta. They play an essential role in pollination and serve as a joy for any butterfly enthusiast.
Let’s explore some interesting aspects of this species:
- Habitat: Found in open hillsides, meadows, gardens, and roadsides.
- Appearance: Yellow wings with black stripes and beautiful blue spots on the hind wings.
- Size: Fairly large with a wingspan between 52 and 80 mm.
- Diet: Primarily feed on nectar from flowers such as milkweed, thistles, and clover.
- Reproduction: Females lay pale green eggs singly on host plants.
- Lifespan: Adult butterflies generally have a lifespan of 2-4 weeks during the summer months.
- Host Plants: The larvae of the Anise Swallowtail primarily feed on plants from the carrot family, specifically anise, fennel, and parsley.
As amazing creatures, Anise Swallowtails are vital components of the ecosystem in Alberta.
Whether you have a blossoming garden or take a stroll through a meadow, keep an eye out for these colorful and captivating butterflies.
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
The Cabbage White butterfly is a common species in Alberta, and is often easy to spot due to its white color and black-tipped forewings.
These butterflies are widespread and can be found in various habitats.
Let’s dive into some fascinating facts about this butterfly species.
- Habitat: Cabbage Whites can be found in many habitats, including gardens, meadows, fields, and parks.
- Appearance: They are mainly white in color, with black-tipped forewings and black spots on their wings.
- Size: They have a wingspan of approximately 45-55 millimeters.
- Diet: The adults primarily feed on nectar from flowers, while the caterpillars prefer plants from the mustard family.
- Reproduction: Females lay their yellowish eggs singly on host plants, which will hatch into caterpillars.
- Lifespan: Cabbage White adults typically have a lifespan of 2-3 weeks.
- Host Plants: The preferred host plants for this species are those from the mustard family, such as cabbage, broccoli, and kale.
The Cabbage White is a fascinating and easily identifiable butterfly. It can be found in a variety of habitats and is always a delight to spot in the garden.
Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)
The Clouded Sulphur is a widespread and colorful butterfly species found in Alberta. It can be spotted fluttering through meadows, gardens, and grassy habitats.
Before we explore this charming butterfly’s characteristics, let’s take a look at some quick facts:
- Habitat: Meadows, gardens, grasslands, and open areas
- Appearance: Males are pale yellow with broad black borders on their wings, while females are yellow or greenish-white with dark spots and a less prominent border
- Size: Wingspan ranges from 3.2 to 5.1 cm
- Diet: Adult butterflies feed on nectar from a variety of flowers, while caterpillars feed on different host plants
- Reproduction: Females lay yellow-green eggs singly on host plants
- Lifespan: Adult butterflies usually live for a few weeks
- Host Plants: Caterpillars primarily feed on legumes, especially clover and alfalfa
To spot a Clouded Sulphur, make sure to keep an eye out for the vibrant yellow male.
The female, with her more subdued hues, can be more challenging to spot.
These butterflies are an integral part of Alberta’s natural landscape and a delightful sight for both amateur and seasoned butterfly enthusiasts.
Pink-edged Sulphur (Colias interior)
The Pink-edged Sulphur is one of the 30 species of butterflies that call Alberta home, and it’s truly a remarkable sight.
This incredible species of butterfly stands out due to its distinctive pale pink edges on its wings.
Let’s dive deeper into this fascinating creature and learn more about its characteristics and life.
- Habitat: You can mostly find the Pink-edged Sulphur in bogs, wet meadows, and forest clearings, as these environments provide the perfect conditions for their living and breeding.
- Appearance: These butterflies flaunt light yellow wings with distinct pink to purple edges, which make them easy to identify.
- Size: They have a wingspan of about 38-51 mm, making them a medium-sized species of butterfly.
- Diet: Adult butterflies generally feed on nectar from various flowers such as asters, milkweed, and goldenrod. The caterpillars, however, prefer to feed on blueberry and cranberry leaves.
- Reproduction: Pink-edged Sulphur butterflies typically lay their eggs on the leaves of their host plants. The eggs hatch into small caterpillars that go on to consume the leaves.
- Lifespan: Adult Pink-edged Sulphurs have a lifespan of approximately one month. Their overall lifespan, including their time as caterpillars, totals around two months.
- Host Plants: Some common host plants for Pink-edged Sulphur caterpillars include blueberry and cranberry plants, where the larvae can feed and develop.
Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)
The Orange Sulphur, also known as the Alfalfa Butterfly, is a beautiful and common butterfly you can find in Alberta.
This striking species is sure to catch your eye when you spot them fluttering in fields and meadows.
Below is some fascinating information about this appealing butterfly:
- Habitat: Orange Sulphurs are commonly found in open areas, including meadows, fields, and roadsides, where their host plants are plentiful.
- Appearance: The upper side of the wings is bright orange, with a black-bordered yellow center and dark markings. The underside has a more muted, pale yellow hue with small white spots on the forewing.
- Size: These butterflies have a wingspan of about 1.5 to 2.5 inches (4 to 6 centimeters).
- Diet: Orange Sulphurs mainly feed on the nectar of various flowers, such as vetch, milkweed, clover, and thistles.
- Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on host plants, from which caterpillars will emerge and feed.
- Lifespan: Adult Orange Sulphurs have a lifespan of around two to three weeks.
- Host Plants: Host plants for their caterpillars include alfalfa, white clover, and other legume species, which provide the necessary nutrients for their growth and development.
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti)
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell is a distinctively beautiful butterfly species that can be found across Alberta. This butterfly is known for its striking appearance and the fascinating life cycle it goes through.
Let’s dive into the world of Milbert’s Tortoiseshell and learn more about its characteristics:
- Habitat: Milbert’s Tortoiseshell inhabits various types of habitats, from woodlands and meadows to suburban gardens and city parks.
- Appearance: This butterfly showcases a beautiful mix of colors on its wings, with the inside being predominantly orange with black markings, while the outside edges are lined with stunning blue spots.
- Size: The wingspan of the Milbert’s Tortoiseshell ranges from 4.5 to 6.3 cm, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: As adults, these butterflies mainly feed on nectar from flowers; however, they may also enjoy tree sap and ripe fruit juices.
- Reproduction: During their mating season, females lay clusters of eggs on host plants such as nettles, providing the ideal environment for the caterpillars to thrive.
- Lifespan: The average lifespan of the Milbert’s Tortoiseshell is around 2 to 3 weeks as an adult.
- Host Plants: The favored host plants for their caterpillars are nettles, particularly the stinging nettle, as it provides protection from predators due to their irritant hairs.
Compton Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis vaualbum)
The Compton Tortoiseshell, scientifically known as Nymphalis vaualbum, is a butterfly species you’ll definitely enjoy learning about.
This fluttering beauty has a fascinating lifestyle and presence that is unique to its species:
- Habitat: You can find the Compton Tortoiseshell in deciduous and mixed forests, forest openings, and along woodland trails where its favorite host plants grow.
- Appearance: This butterfly boasts striking orange and black markings on the upper side of its wings, resembling dead leaves when at rest with wings folded vertically.
- Size: With a wingspan of 5 to 7.5 centimeters, this medium-sized butterfly makes a lasting impression.
- Diet: Adult Compton Tortoiseshells feed on tree sap, rotting fruit, and occasionally nectar from flowers.
- Reproduction: This species usually mates in the spring, with females laying eggs on host plants in batches of up to 200.
- Lifespan: The Compton Tortoiseshell has a comparatively long life, living up to 10 months as an adult butterfly.
- Host Plants: The primary host plants for this species’ caterpillars are the American Elm and the Willow trees.
Discovering the Compton Tortoiseshell in the wild could make your day truly unforgettable!
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
The Red Admiral is a striking butterfly species that can be found throughout Alberta. It is known for its bold colors and adaptability, making it a popular species among butterfly enthusiasts.
Here are a few notable features of the Red Admiral:
- Habitat: Red Admirals prefer wooded areas, gardens, and fields with nectar-rich flowers. They can be found in both urban and rural settings.
- Appearance: This butterfly boasts a deep black color with bright red bands on its wings. The underwings display a unique combination of blue, black, and orange hues.
- Size: With a wingspan of approximately 45 to 55mm, the Red Admiral is a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: Adult Red Admirals primarily feed on nectar from flowers like milkweed and aster. They can also be seen sipping sap and feeding on rotting fruit.
- Reproduction: Mating occurs in the spring and summer, with females laying up to 200 eggs individually on host plants.
- Lifespan: The average lifespan of a Red Admiral is around 45 to 60 days.
- Host Plants: The primary host plants for Red Admiral caterpillars are nettles, specifically the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) and the false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica).
The Red Admiral is a beautiful and adaptable species that adds a vibrant touch to Alberta’s butterfly scene.
Keep an eye out for these stunning creatures on your next walk through the woods or your own garden.
American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)
The American Lady is a striking butterfly species found in Alberta. It is recognized by its striking red-orange, black, and white markings.
The American Lady has some fascinating characteristics that make it a unique species in Alberta.
Here’s a brief overview of this beautiful butterfly:
- Habitat: American Ladies primarily reside in open areas, such as meadows, parks, and gardens. They can also be found in roadsides, forest edges, and other disturbed environments. They are quite adaptable and can be seen in a variety of habitat types.
- Appearance: This butterfly is characterized by its reddish-orange wings with black and white patches. The underwings display a unique pattern of five small submarginal blue spots surrounded by black and a red band.
- Size: American Ladies have a wingspan that ranges between 4.5 cm to 6.5 cm.
- Diet: Adults feed on nectar from various flowers, including milkweed, asters, and ironweed. The larvae primarily feed on their host plants.
- Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on the leaves of host plants. The larvae will undergo five instar stages before pupating.
- Lifespan: Adult American Ladies have an average lifespan of 2-3 weeks, but can live up to a month under ideal conditions.
- Host Plants: American Lady caterpillars feed on plants from the Asteraceae family, most commonly the Pussytoes, Pearly Everlasting, and Ironweed.
White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis)
The White Admiral is a stunning butterfly species that can be found in Alberta, known for its distinct appearance and captivating flight pattern.
This butterfly is not only fascinating to observe, but also plays an important role in the ecosystem.
Let’s take a closer look at some key aspects of the White Admiral:
- Habitat: Found in deciduous forests, woodlands, and forest edges, the White Admiral prefers shady areas with ample vegetation.
- Appearance: Its black wings are adorned with striking white bands and blue accents, which create a bold contrast that sets it apart from other species.
- Size: With a wingspan of 6 to 7.5 cm, the White Admiral is a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: Adults primarily feed on nectar from various flowers, while caterpillars munch on leaves of trees like poplars, birches, and willows.
- Reproduction: Males will stake out a territory to court females, and after mating, females lay their eggs on the leaves of host plants.
- Lifespan: Adult White Admirals have a short life span of about 2-3 weeks, but the entire life cycle from egg to adult averages about 6 weeks.
- Host Plants: As larvae, they feed on the leaves of trembling aspen, balsam poplar, and paper birch trees.
Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)
The Viceroy butterfly, scientifically known as Limenitis archippus, is a fascinating species found across Alberta and other parts of North America.
With its striking orange and black pattern, the Viceroy is often mistaken for the Monarch butterfly.
However, it is a unique species with interesting characteristics that set it apart.
- Habitat: Viceroys thrive in a variety of environments, including wetlands, meadows, and woodlands. They are often found near water sources, like ponds and streams.
- Appearance: Dark orange wings with black veins and a row of white spots on the black wing margins give the Viceroy its iconic look, closely resembling the Monarch butterfly.
- Size: With a wingspan of about 2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.4 to 8.9 cm), the Viceroy is slightly smaller than the Monarch.
- Diet: Adult Viceroys feed on nectar from flowers, while the caterpillars munch on the leaves of their host plants.
- Reproduction: Viceroys are known for their impressive courtship displays, where a male chases a female in circles before copulating. The female lays her eggs on host plants.
- Lifespan: The adult Viceroy butterfly lives for about two to three weeks.
- Host Plants: Willow, poplar, and cottonwood trees serve as primary host plants for Viceroy caterpillars, providing the necessary nutrients for growth and development.
Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)
The Eastern Comma, scientific name Polygonia comma, is a fascinating butterfly species that’s native to Alberta and other parts of North America.
Let’s learn more about this captivating creature:
- Habitat: Eastern Commas can be found in wooded areas, open fields, and even gardens. They prefer locations with plenty of trees and shrubs where they can rest and hide.
- Appearance: The upper wing surfaces are orange with black spots, while the undersides resemble a dead leaf with a distinctive silver comma-shaped mark, giving the species its name.
- Size: The wingspan of Eastern Commas ranges from 4.5 to 6.4 cm, making them a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: These butterflies love feeding on tree sap, rotting fruit, and nectar from flowers. They can often be seen basking in the sun to warm their bodies before taking to the air to feed.
- Reproduction: Each year, Eastern Comma butterflies have two to three broods. After mating, females lay their eggs on host plants, where the larvae will eventually emerge and feed.
- Lifespan: Eastern Commas usually have a lifespan of about one year, with some adults living for several months after emerging from their chrysalis.
- Host Plants: The caterpillar stage of the Eastern Comma feeds on plants such as elm, nettle, and hops. These plants provide the much-needed nutrients required for the larva to grow, eventually transforming into a beautiful butterfly.
Satyr Comma (Polygonia satyrus)
The Satyr Comma, also known as Polygonia satyrus, is a unique butterfly species native to Alberta.
In this mini-guide, you’ll learn about various aspects of this fascinating butterfly:
- Habitat: Satyr Commas are typically found in deciduous and mixed forests, as well as woodlands and near water sources. They are mostly present in the southern parts of Alberta.
- Appearance: Their wings showcase an intricate brown and orange pattern with white spots on the edges. The characteristic comma-shaped mark can be found on the underside of the hindwing.
- Size: These butterflies have a wingspan ranging from 4.5 to 6.3 cm, making them a medium-sized butterfly species.
- Diet: Satyr Commas feed on the nectar from various flowers, including milkweed, goldenrod, and asters. They also consume sap from trees and occasionally enjoy rotting fruit.
- Reproduction: Mating occurs in spring. After mating, females lay eggs on their host plants, and the caterpillars that hatch consume the foliage.
- Lifespan: Adult butterflies can live anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks in the wild, while the entire life cycle lasts for about one year.
- Host Plants: The larvae primarily feed on stinging nettles and different types of elm trees, which serve as their primary host plants.
Gray Comma (Polygonia progne)
The Gray Comma is a unique and fascinating butterfly species native to Alberta.
Here’s an overview of its characteristics:
- Habitat: These butterflies prefer wooded areas, especially coniferous and mixed wood forests, as well as valleys, ravines, and clearings.
- Appearance: The Gray Comma has a distinct scalloped wing outline, and the gray underside of its hindwings features a white comma-shaped mark, which gives the species its name.
- Size: The Gray Comma has a wingspan of around 4-6 centimeters, making it a relatively small to medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: Adult Gray Commas feed on tree sap, rotting fruit, and flower nectar, while their caterpillars feed on the leaves of various plants.
- Reproduction: Gray Commas have one generation per year. Females lay eggs on the leaves of host plants, and the caterpillars hatch after about one week.
- Lifespan: Adults live for about two weeks, while the caterpillars and pupae stages last for approximately one month each.
- Host Plants: The Gray Comma caterpillars prefer a wide variety of host plants, including Gooseberries (Ribes spp.), American and European currant (Ribes spp.), and Mountain currant (Ribes alpinum).
By learning more about the Gray Comma, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the beautiful diversity of butterflies in Alberta.
Green Comma (Polygonia faunus)
The Green Comma is a fascinating butterfly species native to Alberta and other regions in North America.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the features that make this butterfly stand out:
- Habitat: Green Commas primarily inhabit moist, wooded areas such as coniferous or mixed forests.
- Appearance: Known for their greenish, scalloped wings with intricate markings, these butterflies possess a distinct comma-shaped, silver mark on their underwings.
- Size: They have a wingspan ranging from 4 to 5.5 centimeters, making them small to medium-sized butterflies.
- Diet: Adults primarily feed on tree sap, rotting fruits, and plant nectar, while their caterpillars feed on specific host plants.
- Reproduction: Green Comma butterflies engage in a courtship dance, mating in the Spring and laying eggs on the underside of host plant leaves.
- Lifespan: On average, adults live up to 2 months with an overall life cycle taking less than a year to complete.
- Host Plants: Their caterpillars feed on various plants, such as willows, gooseberries, or azaleas, depending on their specific location.
The Green Comma is an enchanting butterfly species uniquely adapted to its forest environment with its striking green appearance and beautiful wing markings.
Northern Pearly-eye (Lethe anthedon)
The Northern Pearly-eye is a fascinating butterfly species found in Alberta, known for its beautiful eye-shaped spots on the wings.
Here’s everything you need to know about this captivating creature:
- Habitat: The Northern Pearly-eye prefers wooded areas, like damp and shady forests with grassy openings. They are often found near water sources such as streams, boggy areas, and swamps.
- Appearance: The wings of this butterfly are a rich brown color with a series of striking eye-shaped spots surrounded by a pale ring on both the upper and lower sides.
- Size: With a wingspan of 5-6.5 cm, the Northern Pearly-eye is a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: These butterflies feed on sap, rotting fruit, nectar, and animal droppings.
- Reproduction: The female Northern Pearly-eye lays her eggs on the grass blades of suitable host plants.
- Lifespan: The adult butterfly has a typical lifespan of 2-4 weeks.
- Host Plants: The primary host plants that the Northern Pearly-eye caterpillars feed on include various grass species, particularly those found in the Poaceae family.
Make sure to keep an eye out for this distinctive butterfly when wandering through Alberta’s wooded areas!
Little Wood Satyr (Megisto cymela)
The Little Wood Satyr is a lovely butterfly species to encounter while exploring the diverse habitats in Alberta.
This charming creature is bound to leave an impression on both butterfly enthusiasts and nature lovers.
Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of the Little Wood Satyr:
- Habitat: Little Wood Satyrs prefer deciduous and mixed forests, woodland clearings, and edges.
- Appearance: These butterflies exhibit a warm brown color with prominent eyespots on both upper and lower sides of their wings. The eyespots on the underside are ringed with yellow, adding a touch of whimsy to their appearance.
- Size: Little Wood Satyrs have a wingspan ranging from 32 to 44 mm, making them a small to medium-sized butterfly species.
- Diet: As adults, they primarily feed on nectar from flowers such as milkweed, thistles, and dogbane. Conversely, the caterpillars feast on grasses.
- Reproduction: The Little Wood Satyr has one generation per year, with females laying their eggs singly on blades of grass and various host plants.
- Lifespan: Adult Little Wood Satyrs have a brief lifespan, usually ranging from one to two weeks.
- Host Plants: Caterpillars of the Little Wood Satyr mainly feed on grasses, specifically the Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis) and other related species.
The Little Wood Satyr is a charming butterfly species found in various habitats in Alberta.
Its distinctive appearance and fascinating life cycle make it an exciting find for nature lovers and butterfly enthusiasts alike.
Silver-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene)
The Silver-bordered Fritillary is an enchanting butterfly species found in Alberta. This beautiful creature can truly captivate anyone with its unique characteristics.
Here’s an overview of the Silver-bordered Fritillary:
- Habitat: They mainly reside in moist meadows, wetlands, and marshy areas. They enjoy the picturesque surroundings of the Alberta landscapes.
- Appearance: These butterflies have an orange-brown upper side with black spots and a distinct silver-bordered wing edge on the under side.
- Size: Their wingspan is about 3-4 cm (1.2-1.6 inches), making them relatively small in comparison to other Alberta species.
- Diet: They primarily feed on nectar from flowers, and you can easily find them feasting on native flowers found in their habitat.
- Reproduction: The females lay their eggs on the host plant’s leaves. The caterpillars then feed on the host plant as they grow.
- Lifespan: The Silver-bordered Fritillary has a relatively short adult lifespan of approximately 2-4 weeks, so enjoy their beauty while you can!
- Host Plants: They lay their eggs on violets (Viola species), which act as their primary host plants throughout their life cycle.
As you venture through the Alberta landscapes, keep an eye out for these mesmerizing creatures!
Meadow Fritillary (Boloria bellona)
Let’s talk about the beautiful Meadow Fritillary (Boloria bellona). This fascinating butterfly species is known for its distinct features and plays a vital role in the ecosystem.
Let’s break down its characteristics:
- Habitat: You can find the Meadow Fritillary in lush grasslands, meadows, and woodland clearings. They often reside in areas where their host plants thrive.
- Appearance: The Meadow Fritillary has orange and black patterning on its wings. The tips of its forewings are darker, with a series of distinctive black dots.
- Size: These butterflies have a wingspan that ranges from 1.5 to 2 inches.
- Diet: Adult Meadow Fritillaries are nectar feeders, sipping from a variety of flowers such as milkweed, thistles, and goldenrod.
- Reproduction: Females lay their eggs singly on host plants. The resulting caterpillars feed on the host’s leaves before forming a chrysalis.
- Lifespan: The adult Meadow Fritillary lives up to two weeks, while the entire life cycle from egg to adult takes about two months.
- Host Plants: Meadow Fritillaries rely on violets as host plants for their eggs and caterpillars to feed on, making them essential to the survival of these captivating butterflies.
Now that you’ve learned about the Meadow Fritillary, keep an eye out for this intriguing species during your next outdoor adventure in Alberta!
Bog Fritillary (Boloria eunomia)
The Bog Fritillary is a fascinating butterfly species that can be found in Alberta. You’ll be amazed to learn about its unique characteristics and its importance to the ecosystem.
Here’s a quick overview of this captivating creature:
- Habitat: Typically inhabits boggy, wet areas with its preferred host plants, mainly in the boreal forest regions of Alberta.
- Appearance: This butterfly boasts a striking pattern of dark brown and orange on the upper side of the wings, with silvery spots on the underside.
- Size: The wingspan of the Bog Fritillary ranges from 35-45 mm, making it a relatively small butterfly.
- Diet: Adult butterflies feed on nectar from various flowers, like bog Labrador tea and marsh cinquefoil, while their caterpillars feast on leaves of host plants.
- Reproduction: Bog Fritillaries mate and lay eggs in the vicinity of the host plants, ensuring their offspring has a food source readily available.
- Lifespan: The adult butterfly lives for around two weeks, which is a typical lifespan for butterflies.
- Host Plants: The primary host plants for the Bog Fritillary are various species of violets, particularly the northern bog violet.
Now that you’re familiar with the Bog Fritillary, you can appreciate this delicate butterfly as you explore the natural beauty of Alberta.
Aphrodite Fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite)
The Aphrodite Fritillary is an interesting butterfly species found in Alberta.
Let’s take a closer look at some of its characteristics, which can help you easily identify it when you’re out exploring nature:
- Habitat: These beautiful butterflies prefer open fields, grasslands, and secondary growth forests as their habitat. They can be spotted across Alberta, especially in the summertime.
- Appearance: Aphrodite Fritillary butterflies boast a stunning combination of orange and black markings on their wings, with silver spots along the edge.
- Size: The wingspan of this species ranges from 2.3 to 3 inches (6 to 8 centimeters) making it a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: Aphrodite Fritillary butterflies feed on nectar from various flower species, like violets and milkweed.
- Reproduction: Females lay their eggs singly on host plants, typically during late summer months.
- Lifespan: This butterfly species has a rather short lifespan, with the adult living for just a few weeks.
- Host Plants: The larval stage feeds on violets, a common plant in their preferred habitats.
Remember, these fascinating facts can be useful when you want to know more about Alberta’s diverse butterfly population!
So, keep an eye out for the Aphrodite Fritillary the next time you’re outdoors.
Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)
You might be surprised to hear that the Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) is one of the most common and widespread fritillary species in Alberta.
This butterfly species is an undeniable beauty and quite large compared to others, sure to catch your eye.
Here are some key characteristics of the Great Spangled Fritillary:
- Habitat: These butterflies tend to frequent open deciduous forests, wet meadows, and grasslands.
- Appearance: They showcase stunning orange-brown wings with black spots and scalloped edges, while the edges of the underside are adorned with silver spots.
- Size: Their wingspan typically measures between 6.2 and 9.5 cm.
- Diet: Adult butterflies prefer nectar from various flowers, such as milkweeds, thistles, and violets.
- Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on or near violets, where the larvae will feed upon hatching.
- Lifespan: In general, the Great Spangled Fritillary has a life cycle of about 4 to 6 weeks, from egg to adult.
- Host Plants: The caterpillars rely on various species of violets as their host plants and primary food source.
Keep an eye out for these magnificent butterflies when exploring Alberta’s beautiful, diverse landscapes.
In conclusion, Alberta is home to an incredible variety of beautiful butterflies waiting for you to explore and admire.
These 30 species mentioned above are just a small sampling of the wonders you can find in this province.
Don’t hesitate to share your butterfly-spotting experiences in the comments below!