30 Butterfly Species in Idaho

In this article, you’ll uncover the diversity of butterfly species found in Idaho. As you explore, you’ll learn about each species’ unique markings, behavior, and migration patterns.

Get ready to immerse yourself in the fluttering world of 30 Idaho butterfly species.

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)

Clouded Sulphur, known scientifically as Colias philodice, is a regular visitor to Idaho’s various ecosystems.

Clouded Sulphur butterfly

Here’s a quick glance at this lovely butterfly species:

  • Habitat: It thrives in open areas such as meadows, fields, and lawns.
  • Appearance: Males have bright yellow wings, while females have yellow or greenish-white wings, both with solid black borders.
  • Size: Generally, they have a wingspan of 1.25 to 2 inches (3.2 to 5.1 centimeters).
  • Diet: Adults enjoy nectar from various flowers, while caterpillars feed on leaves of legume family plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale green eggs, often on host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: On average, they live for around a year, with most of their life spent as caterpillars.
  • Host Plants: Various species of clover, alfalfa, and peas serve as their favorite host plants.

In a nutshell, these lively creatures add beauty to Idaho’s natural landscapes with their vibrant colors and flitting movements.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

The Red Admiral is an adventurous species of butterfly that offers a miraculous sight with its stunning color pattern.

Affectionately known as Vanessa Atalanta, this beautiful insect is a common sight to see in Idaho.

red-admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: Red Admirals have a diverse habitat. They are found in marshes, fields, and even roadsides.
  • Appearance: A deep red band across both black wings sets them apart along with white spots near the wingtips.
  • Size: Fitting in the palm of your hand, Red Admirals average 2 to 3 inches (5-7.6cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Nectar is the primary diet of Red Admiral. They also feed on tree sap, rotten fruits, and bird droppings.
  • Reproduction: Females lay small green eggs on nettle leaves, hatching into spiky black caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan is rather short, usually surviving around 6 months.
  • Host Plants: Nettle plants serve as the primary host plants for caterpillars.

These features make the Red Admiral one of the most distinctive and thrilling butterflies you might encounter in Idaho.

Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon)

The Anise Swallowtail, a medium to large sized butterfly, is another proud resident of Idaho.

anise swallowtail butterfly

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Habitat: These butterflies prefer open fields and meadows, but can also flourish in urban gardens.
  • Appearance: Adults have black wings with large yellow spots. The lower side of their back wings carry blue and orange eyespots.
  • Size: Their wingspan ranges between 2.4 and 4 inches (60-100 mm).
  • Diet: As caterpillars, they feast on plants like anise, fennel, and parsley. Adults sip nectar from a range of flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the leaves of host plants. The caterpillars that emerge eat these leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about a month. Overwintering as pupae lets them survive the cold season.
  • Host Plants: Besides anise, fennel, and parsley, Anise Swallowtail caterpillars can also eat from common rue and citrus plants.

With their attractive colour patterns, they surely are a sight to behold.

Lorquin’s Admiral (Limenitis lorquini)

Let’s journey together as we delve into the captivating world of the Lorquin’s Admiral. It’s a butterfly species that’s part of the intricate ecology of Idaho.

Lorquin's Admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly loves wooded areas, especially near rivers and streams. They’ve also been sighted in urban parks and yards.
  • Appearance: Adult Lorquin’s Admiral have dark brown wings with white bands and orange patches at the tip.
  • Size: Their wingspan extends from 2.0-3.5 inches (5–9 cm), providing a captivating display when in flight.
  • Diet: Their preferred meals are plant nectars, but they’ll feed on decaying fruit or dung if needed.
  • Reproduction: A single female lays about 100 eggs. She carefully selects leaves of host plants for the purpose.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about a month during the summer season.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed on trees and shrubs like the cottonwood, aspen, and poplar.

A great part of Idaho’s natural beauty, Lorquin’s Admiral is indeed an admirable species to observe.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

The Painted Lady, scientifically known as Vanessa cardui, is a fairly common butterfly species you can see in Idaho.

painted lady butterfly

  • Habitat: Painted Ladies are a global species. They flourish in open spaces and meadows in Idaho.
  • Appearance: They are orange and black with complex patterns, and a unique distinguishing “5-spot” pattern on the underside.
  • Size: These butterflies are medium-sized, with a wingspan typically between 2 to 2.9 inches (5 to 7.3 cm).
  • Diet: Nectar is their main food source. You can often spot them on wildflowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on plants. One brood is raised each year.
  • Lifespan: The adult Painted Ladies live for approximately 2 weeks.
  • Host Plants: They frequently lay their eggs on thistle and mallow plants.

This bright, widespread species is truly a sight to behold when you’re in the Idaho outdoors.

Edith’s Checkerspot (Euphydryas editha)

Let’s peek into the life of the Edith’s Checkerspot.

Edith’s Checkerspot (Euphydryas editha)

  • Habitat: These colorful butterflies are mountain dwellers. They prefer the lush green of grasslands and alpine meadows, found all over the landscapes of Idaho.
  • Appearance: Edith’s Checkerspot dresses in a vibrant pattern of orange, white, and black on the upper side of the wings, with a “checkered” white underside.
  • Size: They’re small, stretching up to a maximum of 2.2 inches (5.5 cm).
  • Diet: They fancy a nectar-heavy diet, so you’ll often spot them grazing on coastal and mountain wildflowers.
  • Reproduction: The females deposit their eggs on the underside of host plant leaves where the caterpillars have immediate access to food upon hatching.
  • Lifespan: They possess a rather short life span of only one year.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed on a wide range of plant species, with paintbrush plants being the primary preference.

There you have it, a snapshot of the captivating Edith’s Checkerspot.

Two-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata)

The Two-tailed Swallowtail is a remarkable presence worth noting. Spirited, it’s often noticed in open woodlands, gardens, and riparian corridors.

two-tailed swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: Spacious woodlands and riparian areas.
  • Appearance: Yellow with black stripes and a distinctive pair of ‘tails’.
  • Size: Large, with wingspans of 3.5–4.5 inches (8.9–11.4 cm).
  • Diet: Nectar from various flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on host leaves, which caterpillars later consume.
  • Lifespan: Usually a few weeks as butterflies (total life cycle is about one year).
  • Host Plants: Aspen, willow, and cherry plants.

Although their lifespan as butterflies is somewhat fleeting, their overall lifecycle extends over a year. Don’t miss an opportunity to admire these lovely creatures when in Idaho.

California Sister (Adelpha bredowii)

The California Sister is a truly fascinating butterfly. Ranging in different shades of brown, orange, and black, they certainly know how to steal the show.

California Sister butterfly

Here’s why:

  • Habitat: They love oak woodlands but are also found in coastal chaparral and urban gardens.
  • Appearance: Their upper side is black with a white band on the forewings. The hindwings have a striking blue center edged with a black band.
  • Size: With a wingspan of 2.5 – 3.5 inches (6.35 – 8.89 cm), they are a midsize butterfly.
  • Diet: Adults feed on rotting fruit or tree sap, especially oak sap.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on the tips of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adult lifespan depends on resource availability and predation, but generally, it is around a few weeks.
  • Host Plants: They prefer oaks, but also use madrone, manzanita, and gooseberry.

Next time you’re in Idaho’s oak woodlands, keep an eye out for these beauties!

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

The Viceroy is one unique butterfly, known for its uniqueness in mimicry.

Viceroy butterfly

  • Habitat: Viceroys reside mostly in wet, open, or damp areas where willows are seen.
  • Appearance: Recognized by their striking orange, black, and white pattern, they closely resemble the Monarch butterfly.
  • Size: On average, Viceroys span about 2.5 – 3.1 inches (6.4 – 7.9 cm), a size comparable to the Monarch.
  • Diet: Adult Viceroys primarily feed on dung, fungus, and carrion, unlike many butterflies that sip nectar.
  • Reproduction: Viceroy females lay light green eggs singly on leaves of the host plants.
  • Lifespan: Viceroys can thrive for about 2 weeks in their butterfly stage.
  • Host Plants: Willow, aspen, and poplar trees serve as the host plants for the Viceroy butterfly.

The Viceroy butterfly is a true master of survival and adaptability. Their amazing mimicry tactics make them one of Idaho’s many fascinating butterfly species.

Sachem (Atalopedes campestris)

The Sachem is a small yet attractive butterfly species you can encounter in Idaho.

Sachem Skipper butterfly

  • Habitat: The Sachem can adapt to a variety of habitats. It’s found in meadows, grassy fields, gardens, and roadsides.
  • Appearance: This species shows sexual dimorphism. Males have a distinguishing dark color with hints of orange. They also have an unfurled black line on the forewings. Females have minimal spots, and their overall color is a light brown.
  • Size: Sachems are on the smaller side. They have a wing span that ranges from 1.25 to 1.75 inches (3.2 to 4.4 cm).
  • Diet: These butterflies feed on nectar and draw from flowers including milkweed, and asters.
  • Reproduction: Female Sachems lay eggs singly on host plants. These will hatch into caterpillars who will someday turn into beautiful butterflies.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of a Sachem butterfly is about two weeks.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars feed primarily on the Bermuda grass and other species of grass for nourishment.

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

The ‘Mourning Cloak’, scientifically known as Nymphalis antiopa, is a fascinating butterfly species.

Mourning Cloak butterfly

  • Habitat: They are spotted across a broad range including both lowlands and mountainous regions.
  • Appearance: Their distinct dark brown wings are bordered with a light yellow edge and dotted with blue spots on the outer corner, likened to a cloak of mourning.
  • Size: They sport a wingspan ranging from 2.25 to 4 inch (roughly 5.7 to 10.16 cm).
  • Diet: Unlike many butterflies, adults prefer the sap of oak trees, overripe fruit, and other sugary organic material.
  • Reproduction: Adult females lay their eggs in large groups, usually on the underside of host plants.
  • Lifespan: A Mourning Cloak’s life can extend up to 11-12 months, one of the most extended among butterflies.
  • Host Plants: Preferred host plants include various species of willow, cottonwood, and elm.

Witnessing the Mourning Cloak in motion is truly a sight to behold.

Aphrodite Fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite)

The Aphrodite Fritillary is a stunning butterfly species that adds a pop of color and charm to Idaho’s landscape. Known for its beauty, it’s one of Idaho’s prized gems.

It bears unique patterns that stand out in nature.

Aphrodite Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: It prefers open woodland and prairie habitats, often near water.
  • Appearance: The upper side is orange with black markings. The underwing features silver spots that inspired the name, “fritillary.”
  • Size: It boasts a considerable wingspan of about 2.5 – 3.5 inches (6.35 – 8.89 cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on flower nectar while the caterpillars eat leaves.
  • Reproduction: Female lays eggs on host plant leaves, hatching into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Adults live around 1 – 2 months after emerging, with the full lifecycle being a year.
  • Host Plants: Violet plants serve as the prime host for Aphrodite Fritillary larvae.

So, if you spot this butterfly, take a moment to admire its intricate beauty. The Aphrodite Fritillary truly embodies the natural splendor of Idaho’s wildlife.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

The American Lady is an exquisite butterfly that graces various areas in Idaho. Fascinated by this species?

American Lady butterfly

Below, we delve into various aspects that make it unique.

  • Habitat: From sunny fields to your garden, it thrives in multiple environments.
  • Appearance: Donned in orange, white, and black, it’s indeed a sight to behold.
  • Size: Generally, it spans from 1.75 to 2.25 inches (4-5.7 cm).
  • Diet: Nectar flowers are its preference for a sweet treat.
  • Reproduction: After mating, females lay eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: In typical conditions, it survives up to a few weeks.
  • Host Plants: Favourites include pearly everlasting and members of the aster family.

Despite their relative subtlety, the American Lady can offer a riveting spectacle for Idaho’s nature enthusiasts. Nature’s miracles sure come in small sizes.

Watch out for this butterfly next time you’re on a stroll. Who knows, you might just spot it fluttering by.

California Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica)

The California Tortoiseshell is a butterfly species prevalent across Idaho’s diverse environments.

California Tortoiseshell butterfly

  • Habitat: Predominantly dwells in woodland areas and mountainous terrains.
  • Appearance: Displays an orange and black pattern, akin to tortoiseshell, hence its name.
  • Size: Showcases a wingspan ranging from 2 to 2.8 inches (5 to 7.2 centimeters).
  • Diet: Feeds on nectar from various flowers. Caterpillars enjoy munching on California lilac plant leaves.
  • Reproduction: Females lay clusters of eggs, typically on the underside of leaves.
  • Lifespan: Grows from an egg to a full-grown butterfly in approximately 20 to 25 days, then lives another ten days as a butterfly.
  • Host Plants: California lilac is a vital food and breeding place for the California Tortoiseshell.

This beautiful, mid-sized butterfly adds color to Idaho’s environment. Its distinctive patterns coupled with its unique life cycle make it an intriguing species to study.

Old World Swallowtail (Papilio machaon)

  • Habitat: You can spot this species in open fields and meadows. It has a taste for sunny and warm areas.
  • Appearance: This butterfly stands out with its black and yellow striped wings. On the sides, it sports a blue and red eye-spot detail, lending it an exotic look.
  • Size: This is one of the larger butterfly species in Idaho, with a wingspan of 3.5 to 4.5 inches (8.9 to 11.4 cm). The females tend to be slightly larger than the males.
  • Diet: Larvae feed on plants in the carrot family, while adults sustain themselves on nectar from a variety of flowering plants.

old world swallowtail butterfly

  • Reproduction: Females lay their spherical, yellowish eggs singly on the leaves of host plants. The larvae emerge and feed on the leaves.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of the Old World Swallowtail in the wild is about 6 weeks. This can change based on environmental conditions.
  • Host Plants: Common host plants are wild parsley, dill, and carrots. Cultivating these plants in your garden could attract these butterflies.

Large Marble (Euchloe ausonides)

The Large Marble, or Euchloe ausonides, can be found fluttering about in different habitats. Don’t let their size fool you, as they are a joy to witness.

Large Marble (Euchloe ausonides)

  • Habitat: Mainly spotted in open areas. They prefer sunny fields, meadows, and hills.
  • Appearance: These butterflies are quite distinct. Their white to cream colored wings have a gorgeous black tip and green marble-like patterns.
  • Size: Typically, they span 1.25 – 2 inches (3.17 – 5 cm) in width.
  • Diet: Adult Large Marbles feed on nectar from a variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: They’re single brooded. Females lay their pale green eggs on the undersides of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Their lifecycle starts from egg to larva to chrysalis to adult, lasting around 1 month.
  • Host Plants: Most often, these butterflies find rock cresses, which belong to the mustard family, as their hosts.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a magnificent butterfly that you’ll likely encounter in Idaho.

eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly

Here are some facts about this beautiful species:

  • Habitat: These butterflies thrive in several environments. From woodlands to city parks, you could spot them practically anywhere.
  • Appearance: As the name suggests, they boast a striking yellow color with black stripes, mimicking the markings of a tiger. Additionally, their hind wings have elegant, long tails.
  • Size: Generally, their wingspan ranges from 3.1 to 5.5 inches (7.9 to 14 cm). That makes them one of the larger butterfly species in the region.
  • Diet: The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail adults feed on flower nectar, while the caterpillars enjoy the leaves of various trees.
  • Reproduction: These butterflies lay their greenish-yellow eggs on the undersides of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterflies live around 20 days, which is spent reproducing and feeding.
  • Host Plants: They prefer to lay their eggs on plants such as willow, cherry, and tulip trees.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

This insect is known as the Silver-spotted Skipper, scientifically named Epargyreus clarus. These little species can easily grab your attention with their distinct physical traits and behaviors.

Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly

  • Habitat: These species are primarily located in fields and open areas, riverbanks, or near forests.
  • Appearance: Unmistakable. The wings possess dark brown upper surfaces with golden spots, and their silver-white underwings have a distinct, silver-blotch pattern.
  • Size: Boasting a wingspan of approximately 1.5-2.5 inches (3.8-6.4 cm).
  • Diet: They sip nectar from many flowers, and the caterpillars munch on leguminous plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs individually on host plants. For the caterpillars, these plants become home and food.
  • Lifespan: Their lifecycle completes in around 20-30 days from egg to adult.
  • Host Plants: They prefer Legumes, including Black Locust and Honey Locust, for laying eggs.

Northern White-Skipper (Heliopetes ericetorum)

The Northern White-Skipper is an ethereal member of the butterfly family Hesperiidae. Overly delicate, this species enchants enthusiasts with its petite elegance.


  • Habitat: They prefer open, sunny areas close to their host plants. You’ll often glimpse them in scrublands and grassland environments.
  • Appearance: The Northern White-Skipper boasts an enchanting mix of white and brownish orange on their wings. The upper side is mostly light-colored, while the underside portrays patterns in orange and brown.
  • Size: These skippers are small. The average wingspan ranges between 1.2 to 1.5 inches (3 to 3.81 cms).
  • Diet: Adorning your gardens with blooming plants can attract them, as they feed mainly on flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: Females lay green eggs individually on host plants.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan averages two weeks, an ephemeral existence in human terms.
  • Host Plants: Their larvae feed on a wide variety of plants, primarily in the mallow family (Malvaceae).

This butterfly species is a reminder of nature’s delicate beauty, so be gentle if you spot one in the wild.

Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus)

The Western Tiger Swallowtail brings a sense of vibrancy to Idaho. This successful butterfly is one not to be easily missed.

Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: They’re often seen near water bodies, including streams, rivers, and canyons.
  • Appearance: They resemble flying tiger-striped pieces of art. Their vast wings are yellow with black stripes.
  • Size: Average wingspan is usually 3 to 4 inches (8-10 cm).
  • Diet: They certainly love nectar from flowers. Moreover, when young, they eat leaves of host plants.
  • Reproduction: They lay round, green eggs on the tops of leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies typically live up to two weeks.
  • Host Plants: They love to inhabit trees like aspens, willows, and cottonwood trees.

When you’re out exploring Idaho’s natural treasures, the sheer sight of this butterfly can brighten your day.

Their appearance rivals the topmost natural spectacles and will leave you in sheer admiration for Mother Nature.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

The Common Buckeye is a fascinating butterfly species you can stumble upon in Idaho.

Common Buckeye butterfly

  • Habitat: Its habitat tends to vary. This species inhabits many areas including, but not limited to, meadows, roadsides, open woodland, and gardens.
  • Appearance: The butterfly has prominent eyespots on its wings, which are brownish in color, and bands of white and orange.
  • Size: The wingspan of this butterfly ranges from 1.6-2.2 inches (4-5.5 cm).
  • Diet: The Common Buckeye mainly feeds on nectar from various flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: During spring, females lay eggs on the top of host plants.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of this species is around 10-14 days after achieving adulthood.
  • Host Plants: Its caterpillar host plants include members of the snapdragon, plantain, and false foxglove families.

Always remember that observation and appreciation are key when watching these beautiful creatures. Every detail counts in butterfly watching. Enjoy the process.

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

Welcome to the beautiful world of the Great Spangled Fritillary. It’s one of the many admirable butterfly species found in Idaho. Let’s take a closer look at its characteristics.

Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: They usually dwell in moist meadows and open woodlands.
  • Appearance: Their wings exhibit a striking orange with black spots, giving them a regal aura. Females are distinctly darker.
  • Size: With a wingspan of about 2.5 to 4 inches (6 to 10 cm), these butterflies are amongst the larger ones seen in the state.
  • Diet: The adults feed primarily on the nectar of thistles, while the caterpillars feed on violets.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on various species of violets, which the caterpillars feed upon the following spring.
  • Lifespan: Their typical lifespan in the wild ranges from 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Host Plants: They usually prefer violets as their host plants for laying eggs and feeding.

The Great Spangled Fritillary is truly an interesting subject in Idaho’s varied butterfly population.

Gray Comma (Polygonia progne)

This fascinating butterfly species is prominent in Idaho, known for its distinct ‘Comma’ shape on the undersides of its wings.

Gray Comma butterfly

  • Habitat: Gray Commas primarily exist in deciduous and coniferous forests.
  • Appearance: The butterfly exhibits striking juxtapositions of bright orange and dark gray. Note the unique silver comma-shaped mark on the underside of its hindwing.
  • Size: Adult Gray Commas are roughly 1.75 inches (4.45 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Adults feed on tree sap, rotting fruit and dung. Also, they enjoy nectar from various flowers including milkweed.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs individually on the host plant, hatching into caterpillars that feed on leaves.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterflies live for about two weeks, while the full life cycle lasts one year.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars prefer hops, nettles, and elm leaves for their development.

Eye-catching and mysterious, the Gray Comma butterfly truly enlivens Idaho’s lush landscapes.

Queen (Danaus gilippus)

Few butterfly species are as striking and majestic as the Queen. Here’s a quick snapshot of this splendid creature.

Queen Butterfly

  • Habitat: Primarily in warm, semi-tropical areas such as southern U.S. states and Mexico.
  • Appearance: Bearing a close resemblance to the famed Monarch, it touts a rich, deep orange color with black lines and white spots.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging between 2.5 to 3.5 inches (64-90mm), it’s recognizable yet not overwhelming in size.
  • Diet: Sips nectar from various flowers, including milkweed.
  • Reproduction: Females often lay up to 400 eggs on their favored host plants.
  • Lifespan: Live between 2-6 weeks, with those in diapause living several months.
  • Host Plants: Primarily nectar-rich milkweed, which also in turn offers a defense mechanism for larvae, making them distasteful to predators.

Clearly, the Queen butterfly is truly a ruler among its kind, in many fascinating ways.

Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis)

The Common Checkered-Skipper is a delightful species of butterflies you will happily discover in Idaho.

Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis)

  • Habitat: These butterflies inhabit open fields, gardens, and roadsides, thriving in sunny weather.
  • Appearance: They don a grayish-blue coat with white checks, lending itself to the name ‘Checkered.’ They also feature black margins and have distinctive white spots.
  • Size: Their compact size ranges from 1 to 1.5 inches (approximately 2.5 to 4 cm).
  • Diet: Adults feed on flower nectar from plants such as asters, while their larvae prefer mallow family plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the underside of host plant leaves—where their larvae will ultimately feed and grow.
  • Lifespan: Checkered-Skippers have a brief lifespan ranging from two weeks to a month.
  • Host Plants: The favorites among this species are plants from the mallow family, like hollyhock and checkerbloom.

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

Often, you can spot the Orange Sulphur in open meadows and fields. It boasts an attractive mixture of bright orange and yellow. On average, their wingspans measure about 1.4 to 2.25 inches (3.5 to 5.7 cm).

Orange Sulphur butterfly

As for what it eats, these butterflies feed on flower nectar. Fascinatingly, the females lay their green eggs on alfalfa, which serves as a host plant to the larvae.

The lifespan of these fluttering beauties tends to linger around two weeks.

Important features include:

  • Habitat: Open meadows and fields.
  • Appearance: Orange and yellow hue.
  • Size: Wingspans of 1.4 to 2.25 inches (3.5 to 5.7 cm).
  • Diet: Flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: Females lay green eggs on alfalfa.
  • Lifespan: Around 2 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Naturally drawn to crops like alfalfa.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

As an admirer of Idaho’s breathtaking butterfly species, the Cabbage White is one you can’t pass up. Native to Europe, this species has made Idaho home.

Cabbage White butterfly

  • Habitat: Delectating a variety of environments, it primarily thrives in open spaces, gardens and fields.
  • Appearance: Their alluring presence is notable with off-white wings bordered and punctuated with black at the tips.
  • Size: Small yet expressive, it spans 1.8–2.4 inches (45–60 mm) in size.
  • Diet: Preferring sweet nectar, they sip from an array of flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Entering the world as green larvae after the winter, their transformation to pupae and butterflies is a sight to behold.
  • Lifespan: Despite a brief lifecycle of two weeks, multiple generations appear throughout the year.
  • Host Plants: Our namesake, the Cabbage, indeed! Apart from it, they favor other cruciferous vegetables like kale and radish.

Now that we’ve immersed in learning about this species, isn’t it exciting to imagine spotting the Cabbage White during your next Idaho retreat? Interesting, isn’t it?

Pine White (Neophasia menapia)

One of the unique butterflies you can spot in Idaho is the Pine White, scientifically known as Neophasia menapia.

Pine White butterfly

  • Habitat: Pine Whites are often found in coniferous forests, most common among pines.
  • Appearance: These butterflies boast a distinctive look with their white wings, lightly marked with black spots.
  • Size: Typically, they have a wingspan of 1.5 to 2.5 inches (38-63mm), making them a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Adult Pine Whites primarily feed on nectar from various flowering plants, while caterpillars munch on pine needles.
  • Reproduction: Females lay tiny green eggs on the undersides of host plant leaves, which transform into green caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Their lifecycle from egg to adult usually takes a few weeks. However, it depends on the availability of quality food and environmental conditions.
  • Host Plants: They are particularly drawn to ponderosa pines, which serve as both the primary host plant and food source for the caterpillars.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Perhaps one of the most distinctive butterfly species, the Monarch, calls Idaho home at specific times of the year. This species is truly amazing and noteworthy for its fascinating characteristics.


  • Habitat: Monarchs are migratory, spending summers in northern climates like Idaho and winters in warmer regions like California and Mexico.
  • Appearance: Their bold orange wings are adorned with black-veined stripes and white spots, an iconic look.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging between 3.5–4 inches (8.9–10.2 cm), they’re fairly large butterflies.
  • Diet: As adults, Monarchs feed on the nectar of various flowers, while caterpillars primarily eat the leaves of milkweed plants.
  • Reproduction: Female Monarchs lay their eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves, where the larvae will have a food source once they hatch.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan varies from 2–6 weeks for summer generations, while the migratory generation can live up to eight months.
  • Host Plants: Milkweed plants are the primary host plant for Monarchs, acting as both habitation and food source during their caterpillar stage.

Woodland Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides)

The Woodland Skipper, scientifically known as Ochlodes sylvanoides, is a common butterfly species you’d encounter in Idaho.

Woodland Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides)

The following interesting details about this species make it stand out:

  • Habitat: Prefers open woodlands, chaparral, and gardens.
  • Appearance: Distinguishable by its small size and brown color. It has a distinct row of pale spots, aligned on the wings’ edges.
  • Size: 1.25 to 1.75 inches (3.18 to 4.44 cm) in span.
  • Diet: As an adult, it feeds on flowers nectar. While as a caterpillar, it primarily feeds on grass.
  • Reproduction: It produces a single brood each year, generally in spring through fall.
  • Lifespan: Adults live only three to ten days, but the overall lifecycle from egg to adulthood takes roughly a month.
  • Host Plants: Common grasses, including Bermuda grass and Kentucky bluegrass serve as host plants for the caterpillars. The Woodland Skipper is truly a remarkable member of Idaho’s butterfly population!


In conclusion, Idaho’s rich biodiversity is clearly reflected in the variety of its butterfly species. Each species adds to the unique beauty of Idaho’s ecosystem.

Don’t hesitate to leave a comment and share which butterfly you find most fascinating.

Butterflies   Updated: August 4, 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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