30 Butterfly Species in Delaware

Discover the diverse range of butterfly species calling Delaware home.

From the rich warm hues of the Monarch to the delicate patterns of the Red-spotted Purple, we will guide you through a vivid spectrum of thirty species.

Equip yourself with a new understanding of these insects and their fascinating lives in Delaware’s unique environment.

Harvester (Feniseca tarquinius)

The Harvester is a butterfly species that is distinct due to its carnivorous larvae.

Harvester (Feniseca tarquinius)

  • Habitat: Harvesters are generally found near freshwater bodies in dense woodlands. You can spot them flitting in the sunlight near the forest edges.
  • Appearance: These butterflies boast a rich combination of shades. Their upper side is orange with black spots, while the underside presents light grey with dark patches and silver spots.
  • Size: They span just about 1 inch (2.5 cm), making them somewhat smaller compared to many butterfly species.
  • Diet: Harvester larvae feed on aphids. As adults, they thrive on honeydew, tree sap, or carrion instead of nectar.
  • Reproduction: Mating takes place in the spring, and females subsequently lay eggs on woolly aphids colonies.
  • Lifespan: The adult Harvester’s longevity is around a week, typically passing after reproduction.
  • Host Plants: Woolly aphids serve as the primary hosts for Harvester larvae.

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

The Red-spotted Purple, scientifically named ‘Limenitis arthemis’, is a common butterfly species seen in Delaware. Their striking appearance is captivating and characteristic.

Red-spotted Purple butterfly

  • Habitat: They are predominantly found in wooded areas and forest edges due to their preference for tree canopy.
  • Appearance: This butterfly species sports a vivid blue or blue-purple colour accompanied by noticeable red spots.
  • Size: The wingspan of adult Red-spotted Purple ranges between 3 to 5 inches (roughly 7.62 to 12.7 cm).
  • Diet: As adults, they feed on tree sap, rotten fruits, and even dung. The larval stage feeds on leaves of preferred host plants.
  • Reproduction: Female lays eggs on host plant leaves where caterpillars will feed upon hatching.
  • Lifespan: They have a relatively short lifespan, with adults living around a week on average.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars enjoy various types of willow, poplar, and cherry trees. These provide ample food to support growth and development.

Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)

Meet the Hackberry Emperor, scientifically known as Asterocampa celtis. This butterfly species is one of the 30 butterfly species you’ll find in Delaware.

Hackberry Emperor butterfly

  • Habitat: The Hackberry Emperor is usually found in deciduous woodlands and forests. It gravitates towards Hackberry trees, hence its name.
  • Appearance: This butterfly displays brown coloration on its upper side, with cream-colored markings. The underside of its wings are characterized by a complex pattern of brown, cream, and black.
  • Size: It boasts a wingspan ranging from 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm), creating quite a spectacle when in flight.
  • Diet: The Hackberry Emperor tends to feed on tree sap, rotting fruit, dung, and occasionally nectar from flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs in singles on host plants in late summer. These hatch into brilliantly colored, brown and white caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Once emerged, the adult butterfly lives for approximately 10-14 days in the wild.
  • Host Plants: As larvae, these butterflies feed exclusively on species of Hackberry and Sugarberry trees.

This butterfly species is fascinating, isn’t it? Let’s move on and explore more about Delaware’s Butterfly Residents.

Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton)

Tawny Emperor, scientifically known as Asterocampa clyton, is one of the 30 butterfly species you can see in Delaware.

Tawny Emperor butterfly

Here are some interesting facts about this species:

  • Habitat: The Tawny Emperors are native to North America. They usually inhabit woodland edges and nearby open areas.
  • Appearance: This species stands out for its rich brown color. The males generally have a lighter tone than females.
  • Size: They have a wingspan that varies from 2.4 to 2.9 inches (6-7.3 cm).
  • Diet: Adult Tawny Emperors feed on rotting fruit and tree sap, rather than flowers.
  • Reproduction: The females lay their eggs in clusters on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan usually lasts from 2 weeks to a month.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars feed on various species of hackberry trees.

This butterfly is truly a gem to behold in the Delaware ecosystems!

Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)

Delaware’s open woods, fields, and gardens often play host to the elegant Red-banded Hairstreak.

Red-banded Hairstreak butterfly

  • Habitat: They prefer areas with flowering plants and meadows.
  • Appearance: The upper part of their wings is grayish-blue with a red band on the bottom.
  • Size: They can reach a wingspan between 0.9 to 1.2 inches (23 to 30 mm).
  • Diet: These nectar feeders enjoy sweet treats from flowers like verbena and aster.
  • Reproduction: The female lays single green eggs on the bottom of fallen oak leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live for about a week in the wild.
  • Host Plants: As caterpillars, they feed on the foliage of fallen leaves from oak, hickory, and other hardwoods.

Their short lifespan makes each encounter with a Red-banded Hairstreak a treasured experience.

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

This spectacular butterfly is known as the Pipevine Swallowtail.

Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly

Here are some key details you need to know:

  • Habitat: They are primarily seen in moist forests, meadows, and near streams. Also, they can adapt to suburban and urban areas.
  • Appearance: They are recognized by their shiny, dark blue or black wings. The underside of their hind wings has a row of orange spots.
  • Size: Their wing span ranges from 2.75 to 5 inches (7 to 12.7cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies drink nectar from a variety of flowers, while caterpillars feed on the leaves of the pipevine plant.
  • Reproduction: Females lay tiny, reddish eggs on the leaves or stems of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live 2-3 weeks, but can survive for at least a month in captivity.
  • Host Plants: Primarily, they rely on the pipevine plant, which gives them their name. It provides food and protection for their caterpillars.

Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)

The Eastern Comma species is an integral component of the butterfly diversity that inhabits Delaware’s wildlife reserves, providing spectators with its distinct wing pattern.

Eastern Comma butterfly

  • Habitat: Primarily forests, woodlots, and open areas with trees.
  • Appearance: Seasonal variations exist with darker summer (hindwing) and lighter winter (underwing) morphs. Distinguishable by their orange-brown color with black spots.
  • Size: Roughly 1.9 to 2.8 inches (4.8 – 7.1 cm) wide, an intermediate size for butterflies.
  • Diet: Depends on the seasons – tree sap, rotting fruit, or even carrion, but mostly nectar during the flowering season.
  • Reproduction: Two broods a season, with the larvae wrap themselves with the leaf edge in a silver-gray chrysalis.
  • Lifespan: Adults live up to 20 days, with winter form capable of up to nine months.
  • Host Plants: Mostly the Hackberry tree, also includes American Elm, hops, and curiously, nettles.

Undeniably, the Eastern Comma provides interest throughout the year, adding a splash of color to our environment.

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

Mourning Cloak, or Nymphalis antiopa, is a fascinating species, easily recognizable in Delaware’s diverse butterfly population.

Mourning Cloak butterfly

  • Habitat: They’re generally found near trees, especially willow, poplar, and elm.
  • Appearance: Their wings have unique outer edges of bluish spots. The inside is a deep maroon, giving a cloak-like appearance.
  • Size: They reach dimensions between 2.25 to 4 inches (5.7 to 10.2 cm), classifying them as a medium-sized species.
  • Diet: Adult Mourning Cloaks primarily savor tree sap, but they also consume rotting fruit and even animal dung.
  • Reproduction: After mating, female Mourning Cloaks lay clusters of eggs on suitable host plants.
  • Lifespan: They are quite long-lived in comparison to other species. Many reach 11 months, overwintering in a frozen state.
  • Host Plants: Willow, elm, and poplar trees are their preferred host plants, where females lay eggs.

Their intriguing lifecycle and distinct appearance make these butterflies a noteworthy sight in Delaware.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

The American Lady is a fascinating butterfly species you can spot in Delaware.

American Lady butterfly

Here’s some specific information about them:

  • Habitat: Widespread across North America, inhabits fields, gardens, and open areas.
  • Appearance: Features two large eye-like spots on the underside of the hindwing. Upperside is orange-brown with dark patches.
  • Size: Wingspan typically ranges from 1.75 to 2.6 inches (4.5 to 6.7 cm).
  • Diet: Adults feed on flower nectar, while caterpillars eat leaves of host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on host plants. Caterpillars form a nest by folding leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live for 2-3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Primarily use plants from the Asteraceae family, including sunflower, ironweed, and pearly everlasting.

Lovely to see and witness, the American Lady is truly an essential part of Delaware’s rich biodiversity.

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

Incredibly pretty, this butterfly species known as the Pearl Crescent tends to make the state of Delaware its home.

Pearl Crescent butterfly

  • Habitat: Thrives well in the open and sunny areas. Their presence is noticed in fields, roadsides, and meadows.
  • Appearance: They are often orange and black, with a small pale spot on the hindwings, which explains its name ‘Pearl Crescent’.
  • Size: They measure about 1.25 inches (3.18 cm) in wingspan, making them a compact species.
  • Diet: These creatures are mostly nectar feeders, feasting on a variety of flowers. They also enjoy mud puddling to gain nutrients.
  • Reproduction: They experience multiple broods per year, usually from May to October.
  • Lifespan: Their typical lifespan is about a few weeks in their flying stage.
  • Host Plants: Primarily, Pearl Crescents enjoy asters. In fact, their caterpillars feed strictly on aster plants.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

The Red Admiral has a distinct appearance and is an alluring representative of Delaware’s butterfly species.

red-admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: Usually found in moist areas, near bodies of water or woods.
  • Appearance: Characterized by black wings with striking white spots and reddish-orange bands.
  • Size: The Red Admiral has a wingspan around 2.75 inches (7 cm).
  • Diet: They prefer nectar from flowers like milkweed, red clover, aster, and buddleia. They also feed on ripe fruit or sap.
  • Reproduction: Females lay round green eggs on the undersides of host plants’ leaves.
  • Lifespan: They live for about one year, going through a full metamorphosis during this time.
  • Host Plants: Common host plants include nettles (genus Urtica), hence their nickname, ‘Nettle Admiral’.

With remarkable adaptability, these butterflies can thrive in a variety of environments, confirming their widespread presence in Delaware.

Eastern Pine Elfin (Callophrys niphon)

Eastern Pine Elfin, scientifically known as Callophrys niphon, is a familiar presence in the forests and suburban gardens of Delaware.

Eastern Pine Elfin - Callophrys niphon, C. F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area, Sumerduck, Virginia, April 29, 2020

  • Habitat: These butterflies are common in pine forests, preferring open spaces with plenty of sunlight.
  • Appearance: It sports an enchanting color palette featuring variations of brown and gray with a sprinkle of blue spots near the tail.
  • Size: It’s rather small with a wingspan between 1 and 1.5 inches (2.54 to 3.81 cm).
  • Diet: Adult Eastern Pine Elfin feed mostly on flower nectar and tree sap.
  • Reproduction: Females lay camouflaged eggs singly on the needles of host pine trees.
  • Lifespan: In the butterfly form, their life expectancy is a couple of weeks.
  • Host Plants: This species primarily uses pines as its host plants, especially Eastern White Pine (Pinus Strobus). Specific tree choice often depends on the local availability.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

The Monarch butterfly is without question, one of the most renowned butterfly species in Delaware and elsewhere.

Its fame is partly due to its conspicuous and appealing looks and its incredible migratory pattern.


  • Habitat: As a migratory species, Monarchs are found in a variety of habitats including fields, meadows, prairies, and even residential areas.
  • Appearance: Monarchs are large, bright orange butterflies with black veins. The underside of their wings has a lighter orange hue.
  • Size: Monarchs have a wingspan of about 3.5 to 4 inches (9 to 10 cm), making them one of the larger butterfly species.
  • Diet: Adult Monarchs feed on the nectar from a variety of flowers. The caterpillars however, strictly feed on milkweed.
  • Reproduction: Monarchs have a unique reproductive cycle involving multiple generations throughout their migratory journey.
  • Lifespan: While most butterflies have a life span of a few weeks, Monarch butterflies can live up to 9 months.
  • Host Plants: Monarchs only lay their eggs on milkweed, which is also the only food source for the caterpillars.

American Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

The American Copper is an intriguing butterfly worth study.

American Copper butterfly

  • Habitat: You’ll often find them in meadows, wasteland, and other open areas, even at times in your own backyard garden!
  • Appearance: Known for their beautiful copper color, you can identify these marvels by the bright spots and the orange and black bands on the underside of their wings.
  • Size: They are small butterflies with a wingspan that ranges between 0.9 to 1.4 inches (23-36mm).
  • Diet: As caterpillars, they feed on Dock and Sorrel plants. Adult butterflies sip nectar from flowers and like the moisture from damp ground.
  • Reproduction: Females usually lay single eggs on the leaves, where the larvae feed after hatching.
  • Lifespan: A relatively short life cycle, surviving only about 3 to 4 weeks on average.
  • Host Plants: The larvae particularly enjoy Dock, Sorrel, and other related plants.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

The Cabbage White butterfly, known scientifically as Pieris rapae, is one of Delaware’s easily recognizable butterfly species.

Cabbage White butterfly

  • Habitat: Familiar to many during summer months, they warm to gardens and open spaces alike.
  • Appearance: Sporting white wings with black dots, their beauty is unpretentious yet appealing.
  • Size: The wingspan reaches 45 to 55 millimeters (1.7 to 2.1 inches).
  • Diet: Nectar from flowers serves as their meal.
  • Reproduction: The female can lay up to a whopping 600 eggs in her lifetime.
  • Lifespan: They possess a fleeting lifespan of only two weeks.
  • Host Plants: Their larvae feed on plants in the mustard family making your homegrown cabbages potential food sources.

The Cabbage White’s simplicity and humility are its charm. Keep an eye out for these in your summer garden visits.

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

The Orange Sulphur, commonly known as the Alfalfa butterfly, is a bright spectacle in the butterfly world.

Orange Sulphur butterfly

  • Habitat: You’ll find them in open areas like meadows, fields, roadsides, and yards.
  • Appearance: They have an orangish-yellow upperwing surface with a distinctive black border. The female’s underside is somewhat greenish.
  • Size: These medium-sized butterflies span 1.5 to 2.75 inches in width (38-70 mm).
  • Diet: Favourite food sources include nectar from clover, milkweeds, and asters.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single, pale green eggs on the leaves of their host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults live around 2 weeks. However, the caterpillar and pupal development stages can last a few weeks to months.
  • Host Plants: Alfalfa, white clover, and other legume species are the preferred choice for providing essential nutrients.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

The Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) is a true spectacle in the world of butterflies. Their habitat predominantly lies in open areas with low vegetation and bare ground.

This species adds a swirl of color to the landscape of Delaware.

Common Buckeye butterfly

Let’s dig deeper:

  • Habitat: Commonly seen in sunny and open areas like fields, parks, and meadows.
  • Appearance: Exhibits brown wings, marked with eye-like color patterns of blue or purplish-blue, yellow, and black.
  • Size: Average wingspan is around 2 – 2.8 inches (5 – 7 cm).
  • Diet: Sips nectar from various types of flowers. Caterpillars feed on plants from snapdragon family.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale green eggs on host plants, mostly in solitude.
  • Lifespan: Adults usually live for about two weeks.
  • Host Plants: Larvae prefer to feed on plants from the snapdragon family as well as false foxglove.

This species has a beautiful and distinctive appearance that is sure to catch your interest. The Common Buckeye is a versatile butterfly which can adapt in diverse environments.

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

You can spot the small Spring Azure butterfly during spring and summer months.

Spring Azure butterfly

  • Habitat: They’re often seen in open woodlands and shrublands.
  • Appearance: They’re delicate creatures, with a pale blue upper surface of their wings.
  • Size: These dainty creatures span between 0.875 to 1.375 inches (2.2-3.5 cm) wide.
  • Diet: Adults enjoy sipping nectar from various flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females deposit their eggs on flower buds where the larvae feed upon.
  • Lifespan: The life cycle spans over an entire year in total.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars feed on a wide range of host plants, including dogwood, and viburnum species.

Observing and studying these small yet significant creatures adds a whole new layer to your own appreciation of the outdoor world.

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)

You are likely to come across the American Snout butterfly in a variety of habitats, such as river valleys, desert washes, suburban areas and forests.

Its name is derived from its unique feature: an elongated mouthpart resembling a snout.

American Snout butterfly

  • Habitat: Mostly found in river valleys, forests, suburban areas, and desert washes.
  • Appearance: This butterfly is characterized by its unusually long “snout”, which is formed by its mouthparts.
  • Size: With a wingspan of 1.62 to 2.44 inches (around 4 to 6.2 cm), it’s a moderate-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: The adults are avid feeders and take nutrition from flower nectar and decaying fruit.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: They tend to live for a week or two as adults.
  • Host Plants: Hackberry trees serve as their primary host, where caterpillars feed on the foliage.

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

The Viceroy butterfly, also known scientifically as ‘Limenitis archippus’, is truly a captivating sight that you shouldn’t miss.


  • Habitat: Viceroys are typically found in wet, marshy areas and around willow thickets throughout Delaware.
  • Appearance: Remarkably similar to the Monarch, Viceroys sport an orange and black pattern with a distinctive black line across their hind wings.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 2.5 to 3 inches (6.35 to 7.62 cm), Viceroys are slightly smaller than their Monarch counterparts.
  • Diet: These brilliant butterflies feed on nectar from flowers as adults, but as caterpillars, they thrive on the leaves of willow trees.
  • Reproduction: In June, eggs are laid on the leaves of willow trees. The hatching caterpillars will then remain on the tree as they transform.
  • Lifespan: Although Viceroys typically live for only a few weeks, some are known to overwinter and can live up to nine months.
  • Host Plants: Willow trees, primarily black and crack willows, act as the main host plants for this species.

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

The Spicebush Swallowtail is a striking representative of the butterfly fauna in Delaware.

Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly

Let’s dive into specific details about this fascinating species:

  • Habitat: It often inhabits woodlands and fields, where its host plants, the spicebush and the sassafras tree, are found.
  • Appearance: The upper wing surface is primarily black, featuring a row of light spots along the edge. The underwing has two orange spots in the corner, suggestive of eyes.
  • Size: This species can attain impressive wingspans of 3.5 – 4.5 inches (8.9 – 11.4 centimeters).
  • Diet: Caterpillars feed on the leaves of the host plants, while adult butterflies sip nectar from various flowers.
  • Reproduction: After mating, female butterflies lay their eggs on the undersides of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: A lifespan of 2-3 months can be expected from the adult stage.
  • Host Plants: The larvae primarily use spicebush and sassafras tree as their host plants, hence its name.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is among the more stunning butterfly species found across Delaware’s varied habitats. Visibly striking and equally interesting in behavior.

eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly

Here’s a brief breakdown of its features:

  • Habitat: They are found in a variety of settings, including deciduous woods, city parks, and suburban areas.
  • Appearance: Characterized by yellow and black striped wings, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail can be easily recognized.
  • Size: Adults are notably large, with a wingspan ranging from 3-5.5 inches (7.6-14 cm).
  • Diet: They feed on the nectar of a variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs singly on a host plant leaf.
  • Lifespan: Adult Eastern Tiger Swallowtails can live for several weeks.
  • Host Plants: These butterflies use a variety of plants as hosts, including wild cherry and tulip trees.

Their flamboyant appearance and fluttering flight style make these butterflies a delightful sight to behold in the warmer months of the state.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Often known as the cosmopolitan, the Painted Lady has a widespread range covering Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America.

painted lady butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly is seen in various habitats including gardens, fields, open woods, and even mountain areas.
  • Appearance: It possesses a striking pattern with orange-brown wings, adorned with black and white spots.
  • Size: The Painted Lady has a wingspan that can reach 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.6 cm).
  • Diet: Adult Painted Ladies primarily feed on flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: Females oviposit eggs on the tops of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Its life expectancy ranges from 2 weeks to a month.
  • Host Plants: Various species of thistles and mallows are typically chosen as host plants for their larvae.

Frosted Elfin (Callophrys irus)

The Frosted Elfin is unique among Delaware butterflies.

Frosted Elfin on Lupine (Explored 5/24/20)

Here are some facts about this remarkable creature:

  • Habitat: This butterfly is often found in sandy coastal environments, pine barren ecosystems, and oak savannahs, primarily east of the Mississippi.
  • Appearance: Frosted Elfins possess a unique brown color with a frosted appearance. Their underwings are a rusty brown with several light spots.
  • Size: Typically small in stature, their wingspans range from 0.8-1.1 inches (2-2.8 cm).
  • Diet: As adults, they primarily feed on nectar from many different kinds of flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the buds of their host plants where the larvae will consume the blossoms.
  • Lifespan: Their lifecycle is quite short, between 6-12 months in the wild.
  • Host Plants: They use different kinds of Lupine and Baptisia as host plants, which are devoured by the hungry larvae.

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

Recognize the Gulf Fritillary by its dazzling, bright orange wings, veined with black. If you’re lucky, you may spot this beauty everywhere from your backyard gardens to open grasslands in Delaware.

gulf fritillary

  • Habitat: Prefer open, sunny habitat like gardens, fields, and edges of forests.
  • Appearance: Bright orange wings with black venation. The underside is buff, with large silver spots.
  • Size: Average wingspan is 2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.35 to 8.9 cm), making it a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Adults feast mainly on nectar from flowers. Caterpillars munch on the leaves of various species of passionflower.
  • Reproduction: Female lays single eggs on host plants, which develop into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterfly lives 2-4 weeks on average.
  • Host Plants: Relies on species of passionflower for larval development.

In Delaware, keep an eye out for Gulf Fritillaries around late summer to early fall, their usual flight period.

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

You might feel privileged if you catch a glimpse of the Black Swallowtail. This butterfly species is known for its breathtaking aesthetics.

Black Swallowtail butterfly

Let’s delve into specifics:

  • Habitat: Black Swallowtails favor sunny, open spaces such as meadows, gardens, or parks.
  • Appearance: They boast black wings with two rows of yellow spots. Females display a blue dusting between the spots.
  • Size: Reaching a wing-span of 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 cm), these butterflies are a wonder to observe.
  • Diet: Adult Black Swallowtails have a penchant for nectar, while larvae feast on a variety of plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on host plants. Caterpillars emerge to feed and grow until pupation.
  • Lifespan: This species is relatively ephemeral, with adults typically living for two weeks.
  • Host Plants: Parsley, dill, and fennel are a few plants that Black Swallowtail caterpillars feed on with relish.

This species truly adds a touch of beauty to Delaware’s butterfly scene.

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

Primarily, the Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) is a butterfly that’s fascinating. Each has its unique features and characteristics.

Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: You’ll often spot them in open, diverse habitats. Think about meadows, prairies, and wetlands.
  • Appearance: They are ornate with orange wings interspersed with black spots and silver underwings. They are a sight to behold.
  • Size: These fritillaries size is no joke; they range from 2.5 to 4 inches (6.4 to 10.2 cm).
  • Diet: Adult’s mealtime consists of flower nectar, while caterpillars munch on violets.
  • Reproduction: They reproduce once per year. Their survival relies heavily on their ability to lay hundreds of eggs.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan usually caps at 2 weeks, but they live a full, vibrant life within that short period.
  • Host Plants: Violets serve as their host plants. Next time you spot violets, look around; you might see a Great Spangled Fritillary.

In essence, the Great Spangled Fritillary is a beautiful, extravagant spectacle of nature. Don’t miss the opportunity to appreciate them when in Delaware.

White-M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album)

The White-M Hairstreak is an interesting species you can observe in Delaware. It is endorsed with unique features including its iconic blue tail and the white M-like design on its underwings.

White-M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album)

  • Habitat: Habitually, they live in deciduous woodlands, edges and open areas with trees.
  • Appearance: Dressed with a metallic blue dorsal side, with an orange cap and a white striped band that forms an ‘M’ under their wings.
  • Size: The White-M Hairstreak has a wingspan of 1.1-1.3 inches (2.8-3.3 cm).
  • Diet: White-M Hairstreak butterflies feed on flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: Eggs are developed in spring and laid on buds of the host plants.
  • Lifespan: They live for about one year, surviving through winter in the pupal stage.
  • Host Plants: Their favorite host plants include various types of oaks and hickory.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

Take a closer look at the Silver-spotted Skipper, identified with its scientific name as Epargyreus clarus.

Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly

  • Habitat: Found throughout North America, it’s popular in Delaware. You’ll find them in open, sunny habitats.
  • Appearance: Look for a rich, brown body with creamy spots on its wings. It has a metallic silver band on the lower side.
  • Size: These critters can range from 1.7 to 2.8 inches (43 to 71 millimeters) in length.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on nectar from flowers, while caterpillars munch on various types of leaves.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on the underside of host plant leaves and do so selectively.
  • Lifespan: They can live for up to a month in their butterfly stage.
  • Host Plants: They use plants like Black Locust and Honey Locust as host plants in their caterpillar stage.

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

The Zebra Swallowtail is one of a kind.

Zebra Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: You can spot it, fluttering around deciduous forests and near water bodies.
  • Appearance: Distinct. Black and white stripes along with long tail-like extensions give it the Zebra identity.
  • Size: Quite noticeable. Wingspan varies from 2.75 to 4 inches (70 to 100mm).
  • Diet: For a change, they feed on nectar from a variety of flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on plant leaves; typically Pawpaw, their favorite host.
  • Lifespan: Quite short. Usually, it’s about one month in the butterfly stage.
  • Host Plants: Pawpaw trees are their top choice; perfect for raising the caterpillars.

This species possesses an intrinsic charm that can make anyone’s stroll in the park truly memorable.


The incredible variety of butterfly species in Delaware truly adds to the state’s kaleidoscope of biodiversity.

No matter you’re a die-hard entomologist or a casual nature lover, these 30 butterfly species are sure to capture your imagination.

Don’t hesitate to leave a comment sharing your own butterfly experience in Delaware.

Butterflies   Updated: August 3, 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.

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