30 Butterfly Species in Indiana

Step into the colorful world of butterflies in Indiana, where 30 diverse species thrive. You’ll marvel at the vivid patterns and delicate habits of these winged wonders.

Let this guide introduce you to each entrancing species, enhancing your appreciation for Indiana’s rich biodiversity.

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

This beautiful creature is the Great Spangled Fritillary.

Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: It primarily thrives in sunlit fields, meadows, and wetlands.
  • Appearance: Displaying a bold orange coloration dotted with black spots, it’s hard to miss this butterfly.
  • Size: Its wingspan ranges from 2.5 to 4 inches, or 6.3 to 10.2 centimeters.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies sip nectar from various wildflowers while the caterpillars munch on violets.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs in late summer which will become the next generation of butterflies.
  • Lifespan: Their average lifespan runs from early summer until late fall, a couple of months in all.
  • Host Plants: For this species, violets serve as the primary host plants where they lay their eggs.

Don’t miss the chance to glance at this beautiful fritillary if you happen to cross its path.

And remember, every butterfly plays a significant part in the ecosystem even if just by adding a dab of colour to it!

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

The Mourning Cloak butterfly is a sight to behold.

Mourning Cloak butterfly

Here’s an overview:

  • Habitat: They’re found in hardwood forests, especially near water sources.
  • Appearance: Its wings are dark brown with an elegant cream-colored edging and a row of vibrant blue spots.
  • Size: Adults have a wingspan of 2-4 inches (5-10 cm).
  • Diet: They feed on tree sap, decaying fruit, and only occasionally on flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: Females lay clusters of eggs on host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Incredibly, Mourning Cloaks can live up to 11 months.
  • Host Plants: Their preferred host plants are willow, elm, poplar, and hackberry.

This species encapsulates the wonder of metamorphosis, from egg to caterpillar, then to chrysalis, before emerging as a beautiful butterfly.

Guarded by its dark wings, the Mourning Cloak is a master of survival. A little knowledge can help us appreciate these magnificent creatures even more.

Orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

The Orange sulphur, scientifically known as Colias eurytheme, is an enchanting butterfly species that is common in Indiana.

Orange Sulphur butterfly

  • Habitat: Frequently found in open, sunny areas like meadows and agriculture fields.
  • Appearance: Its upper surface wings are a vibrant orange-yellow with dark borders. The female’s wing has an additional black spot at the center of the forewing.
  • Size: This species has a wingspan of about 1.75 inches (4.45 cm). It is quite visible due to its bright color.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from various flowers while caterpillars eat leaves of plants majorly from the pea family.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on host plants. After roughly a week, the caterpillar hatches.
  • Lifespan: An adult Orange sulphur lives for about a month. They live through winter in their chrysalis phase.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars feed on plants from the pea family (Fabaceae) like alfalfa and white clover.

Silver-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene)

The Silver-bordered Fritillary, scientifically known as Boloria selene, is one of the distinct butterfly species in Indiana.

Silver-bordered Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: You’ll commonly find these butterflies near wet meadows and marshy areas. They thrive in moist environments.
  • Appearance: This species sports a stunning orange colour. The underwings have silver spots — a characteristic trait.
  • Size: Adults typically reach a wingspan of 1.5-2.5 inches (3.8-6.3 cm). They are medium-sized.
  • Diet: As a caterpillar, they feed on violets. As butterflies, nectar from flowers of different plants is their primary food.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the leaves of host plants to provide food for the larvae.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan is typically a few weeks, ranging from late spring to early fall.
  • Host Plants: Violets serve as the primary host plant, crucial for their life cycle.

This species adds a touch of silver and orange to the lush Indiana landscapes.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

The Painted Lady is one of the butterfly species you can find in Indiana. Let’s learn some facts about this pretty butterfly.

painted lady butterfly

  • Habitat: They are natural adventurers, one can spot them everywhere, from mountaintops to meadows.
  • Appearance: They wear a beautiful dress of orange wings, peppered with black and white spots on the edges.
  • Size: They have a moderate size, with a wing span between 2 to 2.9 inches (5.1 to 7.3 cm).
  • Diet: They feed primarily on flower nectar, but also enjoy fruit and sap.
  • Reproduction: They lay eggs on plants like thistles. The caterpillars emerge after a week.
  • Lifespan: Painted Ladies live up to 2 weeks, focused on feeding and reproduction.
  • Host Plants: Thistles are preferred, but they can also use Mallow plants and other member of the Boraginaceae family.

From the caterpillar stage to majestic flights, the Painted Lady is an enchanting sight in Indiana.

Eastern tailed-blue (Everes comyntas)

The Eastern tailed-blue butterfly is one of the most charming species you’re likely to see fluttering in Indiana.

Belonging to the Lycaenidae family, it’s enchanting to behold, and its existence is tied closely to its environment and life cycle.

Eastern Tailed Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: Typically, they inhabit open spaces, including fields, gardens, and roadsides.
  • Appearance: Their distinguishing features include blue wings with tailed hindwings and black dotted borders, differentiating males and females.
  • Size: With a wingspan of only 1 to 1.25 inches (2.5 to 3.2 cm), it’s indeed a petite beauty.
  • Diet: On the menu are flower nectar and occasionally, fresh fruit.
  • Reproduction: Eggs are laid singly on flower buds. The caterpillars are found on a variety of legumes.
  • Lifespan: With a short lifespan of just five to ten days, they live fast, dying young.
  • Host Plants: Legumes such as clovers and beans are preferred host plants for caterpillar development.

Their name is a nod to their tail, which mimics the head of a caterpillar, quite the decoy when evading predators.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Prepare to be charmed by the red admiral butterfly. This beautifully hued butterfly is prevalent in Indiana.

Red admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: You would generally spot these butterflies in moist settings like forests, marshes, and gardens.
  • Appearance: Their striking black wings edge with a red band and white spots make them hard to ignore.
  • Size: A typical size of a Red Admiral ranges around 2 to 2.75 inches (5-7 cm) in length.
  • Diet: Sugar! They feed on tree sap, fermenting fruit, and nectar from flowers.
  • Reproduction: They go through four stages – egg, caterpillar, pupa, and adult butterfly.
  • Lifespan: The life-span of this butterfly is up to six months.
  • Host Plants: They prefer the nettle family including stinging nettle, tall wild nettle, and wood nettle for their larvae.

Whether you’re an enthusiastic butterfly watcher or just an admirer, the sight of the Red Admiral in Indiana is bound to captivate you.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is an opulent sight in Indiana’s vibrant landscapes. With its diverse ecological preferences, you can spot it in a variety of settings.

eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: Flourishing in many different habitats, it frequents deciduous woods, fields, rivers, parks, and even suburban areas.
  • Appearance: Sporting yellow wings with black tiger-like stripes, this butterfly is a head-turner. A hallmark feature—protruding blue spots and orange dots on the lower wing—seals their identification.
  • Size: Adult swallowtails display an impressive wingspan, ranging from 3 to 5.5 inches (7.5-14 cm).
  • Diet: Adult Eastern Tigers favor nectar. However, the young caterpillar feasts on leaves, predominantly from tulip trees and wild black cherries.
  • Reproduction: Female swallowtails lay individual eggs on host plant leaves, hatching in about 4-10 days.
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies typically live up to 2 weeks. In cooler climates, the chrysalis can overwinter, prolonging overall lifecycle.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars find comfort and sustenance in tulip trees, sweetbay, wild black cherry, and occasionally basswood.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Monarchs, considered one of the most recognized butterflies in Indiana, contribute to the state’s vibrant biodiversity.


  • Habitat: You’ll find Monarchs in open fields, meadows, and particularly in areas with milkweed.
  • Appearance: Monarchs are known for their orange and black wings, accentuated by white spots along the edges.
  • Size: These creatures have a wingspan ranging from 3.5 to 4 inches (8.9-10.2 cm).
  • Diet: Monarchs feed mainly on the nectar from a variety of flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Monarchs lay their eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves, providing food for the caterpillars upon hatching.
  • Lifespan: Adult Monarchs live for up to 4 to 5 weeks, but the generation that migrates can live up to 8 months.
  • Host Plants: Milkweed species are the principal host plants for Monarchs, serving both for egg-laying and as a food source for the caterpillars.

Monarchs remain striking symbols of nature’s beauty in Indiana, captivating eyes and hearts alike.

White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis arthemis)

The White Admiral or the Red-spotted Purple is a distinct butterfly species found in Indy.

White Admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: It navigates forest edges and wetlands.
  • Appearance: Its upper wings showcase a striking blue-black tone, covered with white bands and red spots.
  • Size: A typical wingspan of this butterfly measures up to 2.9-3.1 inches or 7.4-7.9 cm.
  • Diet: It feeds on nectar from various plants like milkweed and rotting fruit.
  • Reproduction: They lay eggs singly on the tips of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: In captivity, they can live up to a year.
  • Host Plants: Primarily, the host plants include willows, poplar, and birch.

The unique appearance of the White Admiral captures attention. Its contribution to the local ecosystem through pollination makes it important.

Keep an eye out for this stunning butterfly next time you’re out in nature. The beauty of the White Admiral is truly something to behold.

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

This distinct species, Viceroy (Limenitis archippus), is renowned for mimicking the Monarch butterfly with its stripy orange and black pattern.


  • Habitat: Typically seen near wetlands, marshes, and ponds throughout Indiana.
  • Appearance: Viceroys are marked with an orangish-red top, with black veins and white spots in the black margins. Unique to Viceroys is a black line running across the hindwing.
  • Size: With a wingspan of 2.5-3.1 inches (6.35-7.87 centimeters), they are slightly smaller than the Monarch they mimic.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from flowers, while the caterpillars munch on willow, aspen and cottonwood leaves.
  • Reproduction: Female Viceroys can lay up to 500 eggs, typically one per plant, on the host plant’s leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adult Viceroys live approximately 14 days, managing one or more broods from May to October.
  • Host Plants: Aspen, cottonwood, and willow trees serve as host plants for developing caterpillars.

Endeavor to spot one of these interesting mimic-masters on your next nature walk.

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)

Are you familiar with the Long-tailed Skipper? It’s a fascinating butterfly found throughout the state of Indiana.

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)

  • Habitat: These insects often inhabit urban gardens and fields, making them a common sight.
  • Appearance: Their unique look comprises beautiful greenish-blue iridescent wings and two “tails” on each hind wing.
  • Size: Typically, they exhibit a wingspan of around 1.75 to 2.25 inches, which is about 4.4 to 5.7 cm.
  • Diet: They feed on nectar from various flowers, keeping your gardens in bloom.
  • Reproduction: These creatures lay tiny, yellowish eggs on leguminous plants.
  • Lifespan: On average, they live for a few weeks, where larvae stage may last for 20 days.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars feed on a variety of legume plants, primarily those in the bean family.

All in all, the Long-tailed Skipper presents a delightful sight for butterfly enthusiasts.

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

The Black Swallowtail, known scientifically as Papilio polyxenes, is a prominent species among the 30 butterflies you’ll encounter in Indiana.

Black Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: These creatures favor open fields and gardens, but you’ll often find them in urban areas too.
  • Appearance: Males exhibit a stunning display of yellow spots on their black wings, while females flaunt a blue band on their back wings.
  • Size: They measure an impressive 3.1-4.3 inches (8-11 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from flowers such as milkweed and thistle. Caterpillars prefer the taste of plants in the carrot family.
  • Reproduction: On average, females lay 200-430 eggs, typically on the host plant’s leaves.
  • Lifespan: The butterfly stage lasts 10-20 days, but can survive the winter in the pupal stage if necessary.
  • Host Plants: Parsley, dill, fennel, and carrots are favorites among the Black Swallowtail caterpillars.

Don’t miss the chance to spot these beauties, they’re a visual treat!

Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis)

The Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis) is a well-known species in Indiana.

Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis)

  • Habitat: You’ll typically find them populating open fields where flowers are abundant.
  • Appearance: Distinguished by their checkered design of white and gray on the wings, they’re a sight to behold.
  • Size: Small, they span an impressive 1 – 1.5 inches (25.4 – 38.1 mm).
  • Diet: These butterfly species primarily feed on the nectar of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Female species lay single, green eggs on the undersides of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Although their specific lifespan is unknown, it’s likely to be short, just like many butterfly species.
  • Host Plants: Their preferred hosts are plants of the mallows family, especially the globemallow and hollyhock species.

It’s a joy to spot a Common Checkered-Skipper fluttering around, so keep an eye out for these charming creatures next time you take a nature walk.

Their unmistakable checkered design is hard to miss.

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

The Zebra Swallowtail is a unique butterfly that you can find in Indiana.

Zebra Swallowtail butterfly

Here’s a quick overview of this beautiful creature:

  • Habitat: Lush green environments, preferably near streams or rivers.
  • Appearance: Triangular wings with white/black stripes, resembling a zebra pattern. Red and blue marks can also be spotted on the lowerwings.
  • Size: Their wingspan can reach 2-4 inches (5-10 cm). Quite impressive, right?
  • Diet: They are nectar lovers. You might spot them feasting on wildflowers.
  • Reproduction: After mating, the females lay eggs on the underside of pawpaw tree leaves. Their caterpillars use pawpaws as a food source.
  • Lifespan: They have a short adult life, usually 6 weeks. This includes the caterpillar and pupa stages as well.
  • Host Plants: Pawpaw trees dominate their life cycle, serving as the perfect nesting and feeding spot.

Knowing these details, you’ll no doubt recognize the Zebra Swallowtail when you see one!

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

Let’s take a moment to become better acquainted with the Silver-spotted Skipper. This remarkable creature is more than just a pretty face.

Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly

  • Habitat: You will primarily find Epargyreus clarus in fields, yards and other open areas. They are not preferential and can adapt to a variety of environments.
  • Appearance: As suggested by their name, Silver-spotted Skippers boast a distinctive silver spot on their lower wing. The rest of their body carries a brown hue, making their silver patches stand out.
  • Size: Adults span 1.75 to 2.5 inches (4.4 to 6.35 cm). Their size is certainly striking when caught in flight.
  • Diet: These skippers are fond of nectar. You might spot them frequenting flowering plants during the day.
  • Reproduction: The female Silver-spotted Skipper lays her eggs singly on the host plant. This begins their life cycle.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan involves stages that are hatchling, caterpillar, pupa, and adult, which together last about 3-4 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Certain plants appeal to the Silver-spotted Skipper for feeding and reproductive purposes. These include American wisteria, honey locust, and black locust. It’s worth noting that different regions offer varying plant options.

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)

Looking for a charming addition to the vibrant wildlife of Indiana? Let me introduce you to the Clouded Sulphur. This butterfly species is an integral part of Indiana’s butterfly community.

Clouded Sulphur butterfly

  • Habitat: These lovely creatures are frequently found in fields, gardens, and road edges, notably those with alfalfa or clover.
  • Appearance: Clouded Sulphurs have a bright yellow or cloudy white color with sharp, defined black borders on their wings.
  • Size: They’re not too big, usually with a wingspan of 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm).
  • Diet: Their diet mainly consists of nectar from various flowers such as goldenrod, clover and milkweed.
  • Reproduction: Females generally lay single pale green eggs on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Their life expectancy ranges between a few weeks to one month.
  • Host Plants: This species goes for plants in pea family, like alfalfa and clover, for their larvae’s nourishment.

The Clouded Sulphur is an enchantingly precious sight to behold in Indiana.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

The American Lady is an intriguing member of Indiana’s butterfly species.

American Lady butterfly

Here’s a breakdown of its characteristics:

  • Habitat: Found in various environments, from gardens, meadows, to sunny roadsides.
  • Appearance: Characterised by two large eye spots on the underside of hind wings, with orange and black patterns on the upper side.
  • Size: The wingspan varies, from 1.75 to 2.6 inches (4.4 to 6.6 cm) wide.
  • Diet: It feeds mostly on nectar from flowers like butterfly bush, aster, and dogbane.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale green eggs on the top side of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: The typical lifecycle from egg to adult lasts 1-2 months, but adults can live up to 2 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars consume plants like cudweed, pearly everlasting, and burdock.

This adaptable butterfly thrives across a wide variety of habitats, adding a dash of colour to the Indiana landscape.

Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)

In the great fauna collection of Indiana, the Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) holds a distinctive place.

Eastern Comma butterfly

  • Habitat: Eastern Comma butterflies are typically found in forests, parks, and woody areas.
  • Appearance: They are recognizable by their orange and black wings, with silver marks shaped like a comma on their underwing, hence their name.
  • Size: On average, these butterflies have a wingspan of around 1.8-2.5 inches (4.5 – 6 cm), making them a fairly medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Primarily, they feed on aphid honeydew, rotting fruit, and tree sap, but occasionally on flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs singly on the host plant, usually a nettle or elm.
  • Lifespan: Adult Eastern Comma butterflies live about two weeks on average.
  • Host Plants: The larvae of the Eastern Comma butterflies typically feed on nettles, hops, and elm leaves.

This unique butterfly species adds colour and intrigue to the Indiana landscape, being a captivating sight for nature enthusiasts.

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

The Red-spotted Purple is a wonderful feat of nature that brings a splash of color wherever it goes.

Red-spotted Purple butterfly

Here is everything you need to know:

  • Habitat: You’d typically find them in woodlands and open areas.
  • Appearance: Look for a dark blue or black color with red spots and white bands.
  • Size: They often reach between 3 – 3.5 inches (7.6 – 8.9 cm).
  • Diet: Love nectar! Particularly drawn to rotting fruit and delectable tree sap.
  • Reproduction: They lay eggs singly on host plant leaves that hatch in about nine days.
  • Lifespan: These butterflies live for just a week or two as adults.
  • Host Plants: Wild cherry (Prunus), poplar (Populus) and cottonwood (Populus deltoides) are a few favorites.

The Red-spotted Purple is a beautiful and unique addition to the diverse ecosystem of Indiana.

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)

Are you familiar with the American Snout? This butterfly is named for the peculiar “snout” that extends from its head.

American Snout butterfly

  • Habitat: Generally the American Snout can be found in forested regions, grasslands, or deciduous thickets.
  • Appearance: They sport a mottled brown and gray coloration. Observant eyes will note their distinctive long “snout” formed by a pair of palps.
  • Size: A medium-sized butterfly, their wingspan ranges from 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm).
  • Diet: Mainly, they feed on the nectar of various flowers such as aster, dogbane, goldenrod, and others.
  • Reproduction: They lay round, green eggs individually on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about a month, laying the groundwork for the next generation.
  • Host Plants: Primarily, they prefer plants such as hackberries (Celtis species).

So, you see, the American Snout, although easily overlooked, is a unique gem among Indiana’s butterflies.

Cabbage white (Pieris rapae)

The Cabbage White, a widespread butterfly species, is native to Europe and Asia but has now adapted to other continents such as North America; in Indiana, it’s quite common.

Cabbage White butterfly

  • Habitat: They thrive in open, sunlit areas like gardens, meadows, and alongside roads.
  • Appearance: Cabbage Whites have white wings edged with light gray or pale yellowish color, with small black dots on the upper wings.
  • Size: They fall into the small-medium category of butterflies, with a wingspan of 1.3-2 inches (32-51mm).
  • Diet: Adults predominantly feed on nectar while the caterpillars feed on brassicaceae family plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale-yellow eggs singly on the underside of host plant leaves. It takes about a week for the eggs to turn into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live for 2-3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Cabbage Whites are found where cabbage, rapeseed, radish, and other Brassicaceae family plants are grown. These serve as their host plants where they lay their eggs and the caterpillars feed.

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Gray Hairstreak is a fascinating creature, common to Indiana, exuding a unique charm. Now, let’s uncover more about this captivating species.

Gray Hairstreak butterfly

  • Habitat: Gray Hairstreak is highly adaptable. It exists in varied climates and thrives in open, sunny spaces like meadows and vacant lots.
  • Appearance: Its underside is gray with a hair-like tail. The upper side features large black borders and white markings on wings.
  • Size: It is fairly small, with a wingspan around 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5-3.8 cm).
  • Diet: The adults feed on nectar from many different flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on flower buds or leaves. Caterpillars feed on these plants.
  • Lifespan: The estimated lifespan is 2-4 weeks for adults.
  • Host Plants: They prefer using multiple plants as hosts. This includes cotton, mallow, and legumes.

The Gray Hairstreak is a fine champion of adaptability, illustrating a serious signature of resilience.

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

From the butterfly kingdom, there is an enchanting creature you’ll encounter in Indiana, the Spicebush Swallowtail.

Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly

Keep an eye out for these fascinating butterflies:

  • Habitat: They love hardwood forests and swampy areas, meadows, and even suburban gardens.
  • Appearance: Distinctive black with blue or green ‘dust-like’ covering. A striking feature is their large eye-like spots on the back.
  • Size: Typically measures 3 to 4 in (7.6 to 10.2 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Primarily feeds on nectar from a range of flowering plants. As caterpillars, their diet includes spicebush and sassafras leaves.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale-green eggs on the underside of host plant leaves. Caterpillars emerge after a couple of weeks.
  • Lifespan: Adults usually live up to 12 days. Overwintering as pupa can allow some to live up to 10 months.
  • Host Plants: Predominantly spicebush, but also sassafras and other trees from the Laurel family.

Discovering butterfly species like the Spicebush Swallowtail in your locale can be a delightful experience.

Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)

Let’s take a closer look at the Hackberry Emperor, a unique species of butterfly known as Asterocampa celtis. This butterfly has uniquely evolved with a strong preference for hackberry trees.

Hackberry Emperor butterfly

  • Habitat: They are usually found in wooded areas where hackberry trees grow.
  • Appearance: The Hackberry Emperor displays brown, tan and beige colors with prominent black spots on its wings.
  • Size: They are mid-sized with a wingspan of roughly 2.5 – 3 inches (6.35 – 7.62 cm).
  • Diet: These butterflies are known for feeding on tree sap, rotten fruit, and even animal feces. They rarely feed on flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: A female can lay hundreds of eggs. Larvae are usually solitary and pupate in leaf shelters.
  • Lifespan: Adult Hackberry Emperors typically live for 2-3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of hackberry trees.+-

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

Meet the Gulf Fritillary, an eye-catching butterfly native to Indiana. With its bright orange-red wings sprinkled with black spots, it’s easily one of the most recognized species.

gulf fritillary


  • Habitat: This butterfly is a regular in meadows, parklands, gardens, and any open, sunny areas.
  • Appearance: Gulf Fritillaries are well-known for their vibrant orange-red wings dotted with black spots, and silver-spangled underwings.
  • Size: They measure around 2.5 – 3.5 inches (6.5 – 9 cm) in wingspan, giving them a robust presence.
  • Diet: Adult Gulf Fritillaries feed mainly on nectar from flowers, and occasionally, rotting fruit or dung.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their cream-colored eggs on their host plants. A single butterfly can lay up to several hundred eggs.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan is short-lived in the adult stage, typically 3 weeks. However, the entire lifecycle takes about 1 month.
  • Host Plants: Their larvae are found on passion vines (Passiflora spp.), the source of their larval diet.

You will often encounter this butterfly from spring through fall, lending a splash of color to your day.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye is a frequent sight in Indiana, recognizable by its prominent eye-like spots.

Common Buckeye butterfly

  • Habitat: Buckeyes thrive in sunny, open areas such as fields, gardens, and roadsides.
  • Appearance: Featuring six eye-like spots on their wings, they have brown coloration with orange and white spots.
  • Size: Their wingspan tends to be 2-2.5 inches (approximately 5-6.4 cm).
  • Diet: Known to nectar on a wide variety of flowering plants. As caterpillars, they consume the leaves of host plants.
  • Reproduction: Adult females lay eggs on the leaves of host plants for the caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Their lives typically span about two weeks in the butterfly stage.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars can consume a variety of plants, including snapdragons and plantains.

So, next time you encounter a Common Buckeye, take a moment to admire their intricate patterns and remember the vital part they play in pollination.

Aphrodite Fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite)

The Aphrodite Fritillary, a breathtaking creature, adorns the landscapes of Indiana with elegance and splendor.

Naturalists and butterfly enthusiasts rave about its unparalleled charm and vibrant hues.

Aphrodite Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly prefers sunny meadows and open woodlands. They’re typically found in areas with lush vegetation.
  • Appearance: Aphrodite Fritillaries are characterized by their orange-brown wings with black spots. The underside of their hind wings showcases silver spots, lending them a diamond-like sparkle.
  • Size: They are rather large, reaching wingspans of 2.5 to 3.5 inches (approximately 6.5 to 9 cm).
  • Diet: These butterflies mostly sustain on nectar from a plethora of blooming plants.
  • Reproduction: Mating begins in late summer with females laying eggs on the host plants.
  • Lifespan: The adult Aphrodite Fritillary enjoys a lifespan of around 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Host plants: Violets are their primary host plant. Females exclusively lay eggs here, signifying the indispensability of these vivid flowers in their life cycle.

Isn’t it fascinating how these butterflies add a splash of color and vibrancy to the Indiana ecosystem?

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

The Giant Swallowtail is a sight to behold among Indiana’s myriad of butterfly species. This vibrant creature holds a few notable attributes.

giant swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: It favors open woods, fields, orchards, and gardens.
  • Appearance: Famous for its striking yellow and black coloration, it features a uniquely patterned wing with yellow bands.
  • Size: This is the largest butterfly in North America, reaching up to 4-6 inches (10-15 cm).
  • Diet: As an adult, it feeds on the nectar of many different flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay spherical, light-yellow eggs on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies live for a few weeks, but the whole butterfly cycle can take 2 months.
  • Host Plants: Citrus plants, including oranges and lemons are favorites, but they can also feed on northern prickly-ash and hop tree.

Their presence adds a distinctive touch to the colorful palette of Indiana’s butterfly population.

Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)

The Variegated Fritillary is a unique species, known for its adaptability.

Variegated Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: You’ll find it in a range of environments – open fields, prairies, roadsides, even deserts.
  • Appearance: This species has a distinctive, mosaic-like pattern of black, orange, and white on its wings.
  • Size: Typical adult wingspan ranges from 1.75 to 2.25 inches (4.4 to 5.7 cm).
  • Diet: Adult Variegated Fritillaries feed on a variety of flowers, from thistles to milkweed.
  • Reproduction: It lays single eggs on host plants. Caterpillars have a spiky appearance with a white midline.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live for about a month during the summer.
  • Host Plants: Larvae feed on various violets, flax, and passion vine.

This adaptable and resilient butterfly is a splendid sight to behold. Always fluttering, searching, and adapting, it brings a special diversity to Indiana’s butterfly population.


Throughout Indiana, you can discover the astounding beauty of these 30 distinct butterfly species.

Their vibrant colors and unique characteristics truly make Indiana a treasure trove for butterfly enthusiasts.

Please feel free to share your experiences or ask any questions about Indiana’s butterflies in the comment section below.

Butterflies   Updated: July 25, 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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