30 Butterfly Species in Arkansas

In this article, you’ll explore the colorful world of Arkansas’s vibrant butterfly species.

You’ll discover unique details on 30 different types of butterflies that call this state their home.

Get ready to immerse yourself in the captivating life cycles, habitats, and behaviors of these fascinating creatures.

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

The Red-spotted Purple or Limenitis arthemis, is one of the most dazzling and captivating butterfly species you’ll encounter in Arkansas.

Red-spotted Purple butterfly

  • Habitat: Familiar in the eastern and central parts of North America, it is often seen in woodlands and suburban areas.
  • Appearance: Primarily, their wings portray an iridescent blue color, ornamented with prominent red spots on their underside.
  • Size: These delicate creatures usually possess wingspans between 3 to 3.5 inches (approximately 76 to 89 mm).
  • Diet: Adult Red-spotted Purples savor the nectar from flowering plants while caterpillars munch on the leaves of host plants.
  • Reproduction: The females lay tiny, ribbed eggs on the top of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Their life cycle from egg to adult lasts around thirty days.
  • Host Plants: The favorite host plants include Black Cherry, Birch, Willow, and Poplar trees. These offer suitable homes for their eggs.

This species is noted for its mimicry, simulated the appearance of the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail to deter predators.

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

The Viceroy butterfly is a truly fascinating species that calls Arkansas its home.

Viceroy butterfly

  • Habitat: Viceroys are found in a wide range of habitats, such as forests and wetlands.
  • Appearance: They display a mimicry behavior, closely resembling the Monarch butterfly with their vibrant orange and black pattern. They, however, have a distinctive black line across its hind wings.
  • Size: The wingspan of Viceroys ranges from about 2.5 to 3 inches (6.4 to 7.6 cm).
  • Diet: They primarily feed on the nectar from flowers, but also imbibe from dung and carrion.
  • Reproduction: Female Viceroys lay green eggs on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Viceroy butterflies, like most butterflies, have a fairly short life span of merely two weeks.
  • Host Plants: Their larval host plants include trees of the willow, poplar and aspen variety. They build a shelter by folding over the leaf edge and residing inside.

It’s no wonder that this species is one of the most iconic butterflies of Arkansas.

Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)

Situated in Arkansas, you’ll often find the Hackberry Emperor. This butterfly is one of the various species that enriches the area’s biodiversity.

Hackberry Emperor butterfly

Let’s learn about this butterfly:

  • Habitat: They are often found in riparian areas, canyons, and around hackberry trees.
  • Appearance: Their wings are light brown with a series of white spots, and black antennae.
  • Size: These butterflies vary in sizes of 1.5-2.5 inches (3.8-6.35 cm) wide.
  • Diet: Adults feed on sap, rotting fruit, dung, and occasionally nectar.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale green eggs singly under host leaves.
  • Lifespan: The lifespan is usually a year. The adult butterflies can live for about a month.
  • Host Plants: Hackberry Emperors use several types of hackberry trees as host plants.

Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton)

The Tawny Emperor is an exquisite species of butterfly that calls Arkansas its home.

Tawny Emperor butterfly

  • Habitat: This creature is a woodland inhabitant, often spotted in areas with hackberry trees. It clings to the branches in the heat of summer afternoons.
  • Appearance: It carries unique traits like a brown base color and intricate spots that garnish its wings, presenting a fascinating texture and pattern.
  • Size: The Tawny Emperor is known to have a wingspan of about 2.5 to 3 inches (6.5 to 7.5 cm).
  • Diet: An interesting fact about this species is that adult Tawny Emperors do not feed on flower nectar. Instead, they consume sap, rotting fruit, and even dung.
  • Reproduction: These butterflies lay eggs in bunches on the underside of leaves, leading to the hatching of plump and spiky green caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of the Tawny Emperor is quite brief, lasting merely a few weeks during the summer month.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plants for this species are hackberry trees (Celtis) where females lay their eggs, and their caterpillars feed.

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

The Great Spangled Fritillary can brighten your day with a unique flash of color. Let’s take a deeper look into the features and lifestyle of this vibrant butterfly.

Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly thrives in meadows and fields, and can also be found in gardens, making rural Arkansas a prime location.
  • Appearance: They boast a dazzling orange color with unique black spots and distinct silver markings on the underside of their wings.
  • Size: A rather large species, their wingspan ranges from 2.5 to 4 inches (approximately 6-10 cm).
  • Diet: The adult butterflies are fond of nectar from various flowers whilst the caterpillars prefer violet leaves.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on or near violets. The caterpillars captivate with their black bodies and orange spines.
  • Lifespan: Adults live approximately for one month, spending their short lives brightening their surroundings.
  • Host Plants: Affectionately known as the violet butterfly, their larvae mostly feed on violets.

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

Gulf Fritillary is a well-distributed butterfly, notable in Arkansas for its striking appearance.

gulf fritillary

  • Habitat: It thrives in a range of settings from subtropical regions to gardens and parks.
  • Appearance: Its top side has features with vibrant orange color while the undersides are brown.
  • Size: Gulf Fritillary ranges between 2.4 to 3.5 inches (6 to 8.9 cm) wide.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies mainly feed on nectar from various flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay tiny, yellow eggs on host plants which hatch in about 3 days.
  • Lifespan: The lifespan of a Gulf Fritillary is roughly 3 weeks. Some may rub through 3-4 life cycles within a season.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plant is passion vines, where females lay eggs.

Julia Heliconian (Dryas julia)

Meet the Julia Heliconian, a unique butterfly species you can encounter in Arkansas. This lively butterfly is easily recognizable with its elongated wings and deep orange coloration.

Julia Heliconian butterfly

So, let’s take a closer look at its characteristics:

  • Habitat: Julia Heliconians prefer subtropical regions and can be found across South Texas to Arkansas.
  • Appearance: They display elongated wings in a rich orange hue. The females are duller than the males.
  • Size: These butterflies boast a wingspan ranging from 3.1 to 3.5 inches (about 80 to 90 mm).
  • Diet: As adults, they mainly feed on the nectar of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Julia Heliconian butterflies undergo a complete metamorphosis with stages of egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
  • Lifespan: The average life expectancy of an adult Julia Heliconian is around 2 weeks.
  • Host Plants: They lay their eggs on Passion vines, which serve as the primary food for the larvae.

From the bright coloration to the longevity, the Julia Heliconian is indeed a butterfly species worth noting in Arkansas.

Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)

The Variegated Fritillary is one of the vibrant butterfly species in Arkansas. Unlike other butterflies, their distinctive features make them a real sight to behold.

Variegated Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: You will find these butterflies in open disturbed areas and grasslands. They prefer sunny, open areas full of flowers.
  • Appearance: They sport an orange-brown color with black patterns. The underside has a silver-spotted look.
  • Size: On average, they span between 1.5 to 2.8 inches (3.8 to 7 cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on the nectar of various flowers. The caterpillars love to munch on the leaves of many different plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on host plants. Multiple generations can be seen each year.
  • Lifespan: Short-lived, most adults live only a few weeks. However, some winter-form adults can live up to nine months.
  • Host Plants: Violets, passion flowers, and various other plants may serve as host plants for caterpillars.

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)

The Zebra Heliconian, or Zebra Longwing, stands out with its striking yellow and black pattern.

zebra longwing butterfly

  • Habitat: These butterflies prefer subtropical forests, gardens and, occasionally, they favor hammocks too.
  • Appearance: Their distinctive stripe pattern, similar to zebras, have black wings with narrow yellow stripes. They have a long, slender body shape.
  • Size: Their wingspan reaches up to 2-4 inches (5-10cm); a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Nectar from flowers is their primary food source. Uniquely, they also consume pollen, which is unusual for a butterfly.
  • Reproduction: They lay eggs on the leaves of the host plant, usually a passion vine. The larvae will then consume the plant after hatching.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan is remarkably long for a butterfly, living up to six months due to their pollen diet.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillar feeds on various species of Passionflower (Passiflora).

With their bright, striped pattern, the Zebra Heliconian is certainly a beautiful sight to behold on a sunny day in Arkansas.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

The Monarch butterfly, one of the most recognized species in the world, is a fitting tribute to the vast wilderness of Arkansas.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

  • Habitat: These beautiful butterflies are opportunistic and can settle in a wide range of environments including fields, gardens, and urban areas.
  • Appearance: With strong, large wings displaying a pattern of black, white, and orange, the Monarch is difficult to miss.
  • Size: Fully-grown, it spreads its wings to about 3.5-4 inches (8.9-10.1 cm).
  • Diet: Adult Monarchs absorb nectar from an array of flowers, while the caterpillars feast on milkweed.
  • Reproduction: The female Monarch lays eggs singularly on the underside of milkweed leaves, the hatched caterpillars then mature into the vibrant butterfly we admire.
  • Lifespan: Most Monarchs live for 2-6 weeks, but the generation that migrates lives up to 8 months.
  • Host Plants: Milkweed is essential in every phase of their life-cycle, hence the co-dependence on this genus of plants.

Queen (Danaus gilippus)

Queen is an iconic, majestic butterfly species that you can witness in Arkansas.

Queen Butterfly

  • Habitat: Adaptability is their strength. You’ll spot them in forests, meadows, wetlands, and even your neighbourhood parks.
  • Appearance: The Queen is dressed in deep orange, infused with black veins running through. One glimpse of the black and white spotted body is enough to identify them.
  • Size: Queens usually claim a wingspan of about 3 to 3.5 inches (7.5 to 8.5 cm).
  • Diet: Sweet nectars from flowers is their favourite, plus the nourishment from aphid honeydew adds to their unique diet.
  • Reproduction: The Queen opts for a single mate each time and the eggs are cleverly laid amongst milkweeds.
  • Lifespan: A Queen can rule for about 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Milkweeds serve as an all-in-one shelter, food source, and nursery for Queens.

Remember, Queens are curious, they might even land on you for an inspection!

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

The American Lady butterfly is a recurring guest in Arkansas.

American Lady butterfly

  • Habitat: It prefers open, sunny areas with low vegetation and surfaces to bask on.
  • Appearance: It’s recognized by its distinctive orange-brown, black and white spotted wings, with two large eyespots on the underside.
  • Size: A medium-sized butterfly, its wingspan ranges from 1.75-2.6 inches (44-66mm).
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from a variety of flowers, while caterpillars eat leaves of host plants.
  • Reproduction: Female lays eggs singularly on the host plant tops.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan is 2 weeks, but they can live up to 9 months in the south.
  • Host Plants: Preferred plants include various everlastings and cudweeds (like the Pearly Everlasting).

The American Lady is a welcomed sight, indicative of a healthy, thriving environment.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

The Painted Lady butterfly is a semi-frequent visitor to Arkansas. It’s multifaceted and rather intriguing.

painted lady butterfly

Let’s delve into the details:

  • Habitat: They are cosmopolitan, found almost everywhere except South America, the Arctic and Australia.
  • Appearance: They exhibit bright orange, black and white markings on their wings. The underside of the wings has a complex pattern of brown, black, and gray.
  • Size: The wingspan is around 2 to 3 inches (5 – 7.6 cm).
  • Diet: Adult Painted Ladies prefer to sip nectar from thistles, asters and other composites.
  • Reproduction: The females lay eggs on the upper side of host plant leaves, adopting a scattered approach instead of clustering.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan is about 2 weeks for adults, but the longest living ones can survive for a month.
  • Host Plants: They will lay eggs on over 100 different types of plants, but their favorite is the thistle.

Let’s continue our journey through Arkansas’ butterfly species.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

The Red Admiral is a vibrant butterfly species that you may encounter in Arkansas.

red-admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: This species is rather flexible and can be found in a variety of habitats like gardens, woods, and parks.
  • Appearance: The butterfly is aesthetically dressed in orange-red bands against a deep black wing, making it highly noticeable and visually appealing.
  • Size: An adult Red Admiral usually spans from 1.75 to 3 inches (45 to 76mm wide).
  • Diet: It enjoys feeding not only on nectar but also on decaying fruit and sap.
  • Reproduction: In the spring, the female lays greenish eggs on nettle leaf tips.
  • Lifespan: Generally, in their adult form, they can survive for about six months.
  • Host Plants: They primarily use plants from the nettle family during their caterpillar stage.

The Red Admiral is undoubtedly a captivating spectacle to witness, providing a bright splash of color in any environment it inhabits.

Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)

The Eastern Comma is one of the intriguing butterfly species found in Arkansas. Often mistaken for a dead leaf, it has an amusing ability to blend into its surroundings.

Eastern Comma butterfly

The Eastern Comma is named after the small, silver, comma-shaped mark located on the underside of its hind wings.

  • Habitat: Eastern Commas prefer open woodland areas, stream banks, and wooded swamps.
  • Appearance: The upper side of the wings is reddish-orange with a pattern of dark spots and lines. The underside is browner with a silver comma.
  • Size: With a wingspan of 1.75-2.25 inches (4.4-5.7 cm), Eastern Commas are a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: They feed on tree sap, rotting fruit, and nectar from asters and milkweed.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on the host plant. The caterpillars feed on the leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adult Eastern Commas can live up to several weeks.
  • Host Plants: Favorite host plants include elms, nettles, and hops.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

The Common Buckeye is a widespread butterfly species known for its beautiful eye patterns. It’s a feast to spot this species in Arkansas.

Common Buckeye butterfly

  • Habitat: Common Buckeyes can be found in open, sunny spaces. They prefer gardens, fields, and roadsides.
  • Appearance: They flaunt brownish coloration with gorgeous eye spots on their wings. Each wing has two eyespots with the largest one on the forewing.
  • Size: This species usually ranges from 1.5-2.7 inches (3.8-6.8 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Like many butterflies, the Common Buckeye feeds on the nectar of a variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the undersides of host plants. The resulting larvae feed on these plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for a couple of weeks. However, those that emerge in late summer or fall may live to migrate and overwinter.
  • Host Plants: They prefer snapdragons, plantains, and several species of verbena.

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

The Mourning Cloak, scientifically known as Nymphalis antiopa, is one of the fascinating butterfly species you’ll find in Arkansas.

Mourning Cloak butterfly

This butterfly is:

  • Habitat: Mainly found in woodland areas and parks.
  • Appearance: Notable for its dark brown, almost black, wings rimmed with a band of bright yellow. Its wings also have a series of electric-blue spots.
  • Size: With a wingspan extending to about 3.5 inches (8.9cm), it’s considered one of the larger butterflies.
  • Diet: The adults feed on tree sap mostly from oaks. They also enjoy rotting fruit and, occasionally, flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: Adult females lay clusters of eggs on the host plants, mostly on willow, poplar, and elm trees.
  • Lifespan: Interestingly, Mourning Cloaks can live up to 11 months, making it one of the longest living butterflies.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars feed primarily on willow trees but can also be found on elm or poplar trees. This species is certainly a remarkable representative of Arkansas’ butterfly biodiversity.

American Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

The American Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) is a compact butterfly species found across the state of Arkansas.

American Copper butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly prefers open areas such as fields and heaths, and populates human habitats including gardens and parks.
  • Appearance: Its upper wings display a radiant copper orange color, with dark spots accentuating the vibrant hue. The under wings, in contrast, are grayish with orange spots.
  • Size: An average adult has a wingspan of about 1 to 1.6 inches (2.5 to 4 cm).
  • Diet: Adult American Coppers feed on nectar from flowers such as clovers, milkweeds, and vetches.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs singly on the leaves of the host plant.
  • Lifespan: The typical lifespan is a few weeks, with two to three generations per year.
  • Host Plants: The larvae particularly savor plants from the sorrel family and the dock family.

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Gray Hairstreak, scientifically known as Strymon melinus, is small butterflies that adds life to your garden.

Gray Hairstreak butterfly

  • Habitat: These creatures inhabit a wide range of environments from open woodlands to your own backyard across Arkansas.
  • Appearance: Gray with a small orange spot near its tail, it can easily be identified by the slender ‘hairstreak’ running along its hind wings.
  • Size: It’s compact, typically with wingspan around 1 to 1.5 inch (25 to 38mm).
  • Diet: They are primarily nectar feeders with an affinity for a wide range of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on host plants where the larvae feed and grow.
  • Lifespan: Gray Hairstreaks do not typically live past a few weeks, although the entire lifecycle is about 1 to 2 months.
  • Host Plants: They are not picky eaters at the caterpillar stage, and they eat from more than 30 plant families.

Banded Hairstreak (Satyrium calanus)

The Banded Hairstreak butterfly is a small, resilient species often found throughout Arkansas. Its distinct design and phenomenally adaptable characteristics make it a uniquely versatile butterfly.

Banded Hairstreak - Satyrium calanus

  • Habitat: Predominantly found in deciduous forests, meadows, and gardens.
  • Appearance: Features smart greyish-brown wings with intricate white lines forming a network-like pattern. The lower edge of the wing exhibits a tail and a band of orange spots.
  • Size: A petite creature, it spans 1 to 1.25 inches (about 2.5 to ~3.2 centimeters).
  • Diet: Feeds mostly on the nectar of flowers like milkweed, dogbane or goldenrod. The larvae eat the leaves of their host plants.
  • Reproduction: Males perch on shrubs and trees in afternoon to wait for females. Females lay eggs singly on the host plant.
  • Lifespan: Adults have a short lifespan of around a week, but the entire life cycle lasts about a month.
  • Host Plants: Primarily various species of oak, hickory, and walnut.

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

The Cloudless Sulphur is a standout among Arkansas’ butterfly species due to its vibrant color and size.

cloudless sulphur butterfly

  • Habitat: They have a broad range and can adapt to many different habitats such as meadows, fields, roadsides, and gardens.
  • Appearance: They have an enchanting, electric yellow color, with males showcasing brighter shades than the females. Females may have faint spots on their wings.
  • Size: With wingspans around 2 to 3 inches (5-7.5 cm), the Cloudless Sulphur is considerably larger than many other Sulphur species.
  • Diet: The adults feed on nectar from various flowers, while the caterpillar feeds on the foliage of host plants.
  • Reproduction: They reproduce up to three times annually in the south, with males waiting around host plants for females.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan varies, with adults living up to around a month.
  • Host Plants: They prefer cassia species, with caterpillars often found on wild senna or partridge peas plants.

Large Orange Sulphur (Phoebis agarithe)

Soaked in warmth, you’d find the Large Orange Sulphur most commonly in Southern States, like Arkansas. Its preference? Open, sunny fields or coastal landscapes.

Large Orange Sulphur (Phoebis agarithe)

  • Habitat: Open, sunny fields and coastal landscapes.
  • Appearance: Can you guess its primary color? Yes, bright orange! It also sports tiny black scales on its upper wing surface.
  • Size: They are petite creatures, ranging from 2.3 to 3.1 inches, or 5.8 to 7.8 cm in wingspan.
  • Diet: A variety of flowering plants serve as their favorite delicacies, including wild marigold and bull thistle.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale green eggs singly on host leaves. In about 4 days, a caterpillar emerges.
  • Lifespan: A few days as a caterpillar, about 2 weeks as a chrysalis, and up to about 2 months as a butterfly.
  • Host Plants: Its larvae feast on leaves of various legume species. These host plants include alfalfa, clover, and pea plants.

Isn’t it interesting to learn about the beautiful creatures that we share our backyards with?

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Let us shift our focus towards the stately Black Swallowtail.

Black Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly can be found on a variety of low-growing plants, primarily in open areas or gardens.
  • Appearance: Black wings with yellow spots form a sharp contrast, along delicate blue and red spot patterns on the underside.
  • Size: A medium-to-large butterfly, its wingspan measures from 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.1 centimeters).
  • Diet: Adult Black Swallowtails mainly feed on flower nectar. Caterpillars indulge in dill, carrot, and parsley plants.
  • Reproduction: They lay their eggs on host plants where larvae complete their metamorphosis over several weeks.
  • Lifespan: A relatively short lifespan of about two weeks is typical for these creatures.
  • Host Plants: Dill, parsley, and carrot plants serve as hosts for the Black Swallowtail caterpillar, thus making them vital for its life cycle.

The Black Swallowtail is a striking butterfly, one of Arkansas’s true natural gems.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, scientifically called Papilio glaucus, is an eye-catching butterfly common in Arkansas.

eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly

So, let me walk you through some interesting facts about them:

  • Habitat: They widely inhabit deciduous woods, along streams, rivers, and wooded suburbs.
  • Appearance: Marked by large yellow and black striped wings, these butterflies are true to their name. Some females are entirely black for camouflage.
  • Size: They are fairly large and can span from 4 to 4.5 inches (10-11 cm) across.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on the nectar of flowers whereas caterpillars prefer the leaves of different trees.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the leaves of host plants in the late summer.
  • Lifespan: They enjoy a lifespan of about one month as adult butterflies.
  • Host Plants: Mainly feeds on plants like tulip tree, wild black cherry, and ash.

Evidently, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a butterfly with unique qualities worth appreciating.

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

You might have spotted the Giant Swallowtail, or Papilio cresphontes, fluttering in your surroundings.

giant swallowtail butterfly

Here are some key features about it:

  • Habitat: Mostly found in forests and open, sunny areas like gardens and parks.
  • Appearance: Black and yellow in color. It has a signature “tail” seen in many other swallowtails.
  • Size: It can grow up to between 4.5-6.3 inches (11.5-16 cm) in wingspan, making it one of the largest butterflies in the region.
  • Diet: As caterpillars, they feast on citrus trees. As adults, they prefer nectar from a variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the underside of leaves. A single butterfly can lay up to 100 eggs.
  • Lifespan: In the wild, they live about 10-12 days once they reach adulthood.
  • Host Plants: Mainly citrus plants like orange, lime, and grapefruit trees. They also like prickly ash.

Remember to plant citrus trees if you want to attract these majestic butterflies to your garden.

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

You might have seen a distinctive, black and blue colored butterfly in Arkansas known as the Spicebush Swallowtail. This butterfly species is one of the state’s precious treasures.

Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly

Here are some interesting facts about them:

  • Habitat: Predominantly, you’ll find them in forests, woodlands, and marshes.
  • Appearance: The Spicebush Swallowtail has black wings with blue or green ‘eye’ spots on the tail.
  • Size: These beauties average a wingspan of 3-4 inches, or 7.5-10 cm.
  • Diet: Nectaring on flowers is the primary diet as adults, while larvae feed on Spicebush leaves.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the underside of host plants. The resulting larvae go through several stages before maturing into butterflies.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan is about 3-4 weeks, although some can survive into winter as larvae or pupae.
  • Host Plants: As the name suggests, Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is the preferred host plant, but they also use sassafras trees.

The Spicebush Swallowtail is a captivating butterfly that embodies the uniqueness of Arkansas’s wildlife.

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

Native to Arkansas, you’ll often spot the Pipevine Swallowtail fluttering across meadows and forests. Let’s delve deep into the characteristics of this distinctive species.

Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: They’re common in woodland areas but adaptable to various environments.
  • Appearance: Adults have iridescent blue or blue-green wings. The underside is black or brown with white spots.
  • Size: Their wingspan ranges from 2.75 to 5 inches (70 to 127mm).
  • Diet: Adults sip nectar, while caterpillars rely on pipevine for sustenance.
  • Reproduction: Females lay brown-red eggs that turn a lighter color before hatching.
  • Lifespan: Adults can live up to a month in ideal conditions.
  • Host Plants: Pipevine, the primary host plant, is critical for caterpillar feeding and egg laying.

Remember, by conserving the habitat of the Pipevine Swallowtail, we ensure this spectacle of nature continues to grace our lives.

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

Zebra Swallowtail is another butterfly species you’ll find in Arkansas.

Zebra Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: They mainly inhabit deciduous woodlands and nearby fields.
  • Appearance: Their name reflects their stunning black and white stripped pattern. Additionally, they flaunt a unique pair of tails at the hindwings.
  • Size: The wing span typically ranges from 2.75-4 inches (7-10 cm).
  • Diet: As adults, they feed on nectar from a variety of flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single greenish eggs on the leaves of their host plants.
  • Lifespan: Zebra Swallowtails have an average lifespan of about 6 months.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars feed primarily on species of pawpaw.

These butterflies are not only fascinating to spot, but also play a crucial part in pollination. They are especially known for their quick and lightweight flight.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

This distinct butterfly is common in Arkansas. Its peculiar traits make it easy to identify.

Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly

  • Habitat: Predominantly in meadows, gardens and edges of forests.
  • Appearance: Brown wings with a silvery patch on the hind wings.
  • Size: Spans about 2 inches (5 cm) in width.
  • Diet: Nectar from plants such as butterfly bush and milkweed.
  • Reproduction: Females lay around 600 eggs, usually on legumes.
  • Lifespan: Short – about a week as an adult butterfly.
  • Host Plants: Various species of legumes.

Being able to distinguish the Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) adds more value to your butterfly-watching experience.

Once you know what to look for, spotting this butterfly is a breeze. Now, let’s move on to another fascinating butterfly, the Long-tailed Skipper.

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)

Meet the Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus), a unique resident of Arkansas – a butterfly that simply cannot be overlooked.

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)

  • Habitat: The Long-tailed Skipper frequents urban areas, forests, and gardens. It thrives mainly in warmer climates.
  • Appearance: Its deep blue-green iridescent body and noticeable tails on their hind wings distinguish this butterfly easily from others. The body color fades into a subtler shade of brown towards the edge of the wings.
  • Size: Adults typically reach 1.75 to 2.25 inches (44 to 57 mm) in size.
  • Diet: Adult skippers feed on the nectar of a variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Female skippers deposit eggs on the host plants. The caterpillar forms a shelter by folding leaf edges where it then rests and feeds.
  • Lifespan: Adult skippers live for about a month or so.
  • Host Plants: Young Long-tailed Skippers prefer feeding on plants in the pea family (Fabaceae).


In conclusion, Arkansas is endowed with a dazzling array of butterfly species each with its unique attributes.

The diversity enriches the local ecosystem and provides a fascinating subject for photography and study.

Feel free to share in the comments section any experiences or encounters you have had with these beautiful creatures.

Butterflies   Updated: August 2, 2023
avatar Welcome to Insectic, a blog to learn about insects and bugs. I'm Richard, and I've created this website to share my experience, knowledge, and passion with others.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *