30 Butterfly Species in Louisiana
Venture with us as we explore the diverse world of butterflies in Louisiana. Unearth 30 of the most commonly spotted species in this unique habitat.
Buckle up, because starting with the Cloudless Sulphur, prepare to embark on a fascinating journey through the wings of Louisiana.
Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)
The Cloudless Sulphur is one of Louisiana’s unique butterfly species that’s a sight to behold.
Here are some fascinating features about it:
- Habitat: This breed mainly resides in open spaces, gardens, and meadows.
- Appearance: It has an attractive yellow hue, with males being entirely yellow and females having slightly darker edges.
- Size: Its span ranges from 2.3 to 3.1 inches (58 to 78 millimeters), a significant size for a butterfly.
- Diet: The adults typically feed on nectar from a variety of flowers, while larvae eat cassia species.
- Reproduction: The female lays her pale, green eggs singly on host plants.
- Lifespan: Adults live around 6 to 14 days in the wild.
- Host Plants: Its larvae mainly rely on the cassia species in the pea family.
The Cloudless Sulphur, with its vibrant colors and unique needs, is a perfect example of the diverse butterfly species found in Louisiana.
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
Undoubtedly, the iconic Monarch (Danaus plexippus) is one of the most recognized butterfly species not only in Louisiana but across North America.
Let’s explore what makes these butterflies special.
- Habitat: Predominately found in open fields, meadows, and rural gardens.
- Appearance: Distinguished by their bright orange wings marked with black veins and white spots at the edges.
- Size: Adult Monarchs can span approximately 3.5-4 inches (8.9-10.2 cm) across.
- Diet: Nectar from a variety of flowers, including milkweed.
- Reproduction: Females lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed plants.
- Lifespan: Adult Monarchs can live up to 9 months during the winter generation but only 2-6 weeks during other times.
- Host Plants: Milkweed is the primary host plant for Monarchs, providing nourishment for the larvae.
The Monarch butterfly is a fascinating species certainly worth protecting due to its unique lifecycle and close relationship with milkweed plants.
Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)
The Long-tailed Skipper is a butterfly species native to Louisiana that is easily recognizable.
- Habitat: Typically, they are found in many areas, including gardens, fields, and open woodland spots.
- Appearance: They sport a charming blue-green iridescence on their bodies with brown edges.
- Size: They measure approximately 1.5-2 inches (3.8-5.1 cm) from one wingtip to the other.
- Diet: Adult butterflies feed on nectar from various flowers, while larvae feed on leguminous plants.
- Reproduction: Adult females lay their eggs on plants that the larva can feed on after hatching.
- Lifespan: Adults live typically for just a few weeks, but eggs, larvae, and pupae overwinter to create a new generation.
- Host Plants: The caterpillars prefer feeds on plants from the bean family like wisteria and other legumes.
By being familiar with these attributes, it’s easier to spot this stunning species in your next nature outing.
Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)
Meet the Orange Sulphur, a common visitor to the southern gardens of Louisiana. It’s part of the Pieridae family which is recognised for their bright, often yellow, colors.
- Habitat: Thriving in open spaces like meadows or parks, they seem to love the sun.
- Appearance: Showing off its delicate orange and yellow wings speckled with black dots.
- Size: Moderately sized, their wing spans average at around 1.5 to 2.25 inches (3.8 to 5.7 cm).
- Diet: They are keen on nectar, favoring flowers such as milkweed and red clover.
- Reproduction: Females lay single, pale green eggs on host plants where they hatch into green caterpillars.
- Lifespan: Adult butterflies typically live 2-3 weeks, however, the final generation of the year can live up to 9 months.
- Host Plants: Often found on alfalfa, white clover, and other legumes.
The Orange Sulphur is undoubtedly a fluttering gem in the Louisiana lands.
Julia Heliconian (Dryas julia)
The Julia Heliconian, also known as Dryas julia, is a fascinating butterfly you can find in Louisiana.
- Habitat: Its habitat primarily consists of tropical areas and open spaces.
- Appearance: This species displays an attractive tone of orange on its wings, contrasted by a black outline.
- Size: The wingspan is approximately 3.5 inches (8.9 cm), making it medium-sized.
- Diet: As an adult butterfly, the Julia Heliconian feeds on the nectar of various flowers.
- Reproduction: During the mating season, female butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves of host plants.
- Lifespan: Its lifespan varies but can extend up to two weeks as a butterfly.
- Host Plants: The passion vine is a common host plant for this species, where the caterpillars feed and grow before turning into adult butterflies.
Overall, the Julia Heliconian is an impressive butterfly, appreciated for its striking appearance and adaptability.
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Meet the Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), a delightful, travel-loving species dispersed worldwide, including Louisiana.
- Habitat: They are true cosmopolitans, found in diverse habitats such as fields, gardens, and roadside ditches.
- Appearance: Boasting striking orange wings etched with black and white patterns, it’s easy to spot these beauties.
- Size: Medium-sized creatures, wingspan stretches from 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 centimeters).
- Diet: Nectar is their primary food source, mainly from thistles and asters.
- Reproduction: Their unique migration behavior leads to a complex reproduction cycle, involving several generations throughout the year.
- Lifespan: Usually, they enjoy a lifespan of 2 weeks to a month.
- Host Plants: Thistles, mallows, and legumes are their preferred host plants, where females lay eggs, fostering the next generation of painted ladies.
This lovely species is truly a treat to the eyes, enriching Louisiana’s diverse butterfly population.
Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)
The Black Swallowtail, or Papilio polyxenes, is a fascinating species found in Louisiana.
- Habitat: They inhabit various environments including gardens, fields and deciduous forests.
- Appearance: As the name suggests, they have predominantly dark, often black, wings adorned with yellow spots. A striking bluish or red mark graces the lower portion of their wings.
- Size: The wingspan ranges between 3 to 4.5 inches (7.6 to 11.5 cm).
- Diet: In the caterpillar stage, they feed on host plants while adults sip nectar from flowers.
- Reproduction: Females lay pale green eggs on the host plants. The caterpillars exhibit drastic color changes through the stages of their life.
- Lifespan: On average, they live approximately one month in the wild.
- Host Plants: Parsley family plants are their primary host plants, including celery, parsley, carrots and dill.
Each of these features makes the Black Swallowtail a truly unique and delightful member of Louisiana’s butterfly community.
Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)
Clouded Sulphur is a fascinating butterfly species commonly seen in Louisiana.
- Habitat: It prefers open areas with a wide variety of flowers.
- Appearance: On the upper side, males are lemon-yellow with a dark border around, while females are yellow or greenish-white with a dark border.
- Size: It has a wingspan of 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 centimeters).
- Diet: The caterpillars of this species feed on legumes, especially Alfalfa, White Clover, and Red Clover. They get their sustenance from flowers.
- Reproduction: Generally, they produce more than three broods each year.
- Lifespan: They have a typical lifespan of around a year.
- Host Plants: The caterpillars primarily consume the peas and cotton. They also use some native legumes.
Clouded Sulphurs are an embodiment of natural beauty and serve as important pollinators in their ecosystems. Enjoy their gentle presence during your nature walks.
Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)
The Common Buckeye is a prevalent sight in Louisiana. This impressive species is a delight to encounter.
- Habitat: You’ll find the Buckeye in a variety of environments including open woods, fields, and gardens.
- Appearance: They’re known for their distinctive ‘eye’ spots on the upper side of their wings.
- Size: A petite species, their wingspan measures approximately 2 – 2.5 inches (5 – 6.3 cm).
- Diet: As a caterpillar, they feast on snapdragons and plantains. As an adult, they savor the nectar of various flowers.
- Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on the bud of a host plant. The resulting caterpillars, adorned in spots and spikes, spend their days feeding.
- Lifespan: In warmer climates like Louisiana, these butterflies can produce multiple generations in a year, each living up to a few weeks.
- Host Plants: Plantain, snapdragon, and other plants from the family Scrophulariaceae are the preferred host plants for Buckeye caterpillars.
Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)
The Zebra Swallowtail is a sight to behold.
Let’s delve deeper into its characteristics:
- Habitat: It has a liking for damp woodlands and grassy riverbanks. They are commonly found across Louisiana.
- Appearance: Its bold zebra-like black and white stripes give it its name. Its wings also have a small red and blue spot near the tail.
- Size: The wingspan varies from 2.4 to 4 inches (60 to 100mm), making it a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: With an affinity for pawpaw flowers, it also drinks nectar from other flowers. Its larva feeds on leaves from pawpaw trees.
- Reproduction: Zebra Swallowtails lay single, green eggs on the underside of leaves.
- Lifespan: With a life expectancy of about 6 weeks, it has two generations between April and September.
- Host Plants: Pawpaw trees serve as their hosts, which are especially crucial during the larval stage.
Remember to cherish these beautiful creatures if you’re lucky enough to spot one!
Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)
The Question Mark, scientifically known as Polygonia interrogationis, is one of the 30 butterfly species that you can encounter in Louisiana.
This species’s uniqueness stems from its summer and winter form difference, making it an exciting addition to the local biodiversity.
- Habitat: Originating from North America, the Question Mark enjoys habitats such as parks, woodlands, and suburbs.
- Appearance: Its name comes from the small white mark on the underside of its hindwing, which looks similar to a question mark.
- Size: Wingspan usually varies from 2.25 to 3 inches (5.7 to 7.6 cm).
- Diet: The adults feed on tree sap, rotting fruit, animal dung, and occasionally, nectar.
- Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly, and they prefer hackberry and elm trees as their host plants for reproduction.
- Lifespan: In summer form, they can live 2 – 3 months, while the winter form can live up to 9 months.
- Host Plants: Preferred host plants include American elm, hackberry, and nettles.
Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis)
Common Checkered-Skipper is native to Louisiana.
Here’s a closer look at this fascinating species:
- Habitat: Common Checkered-Skippers live in open, sunny habitats with few trees, such as meadows and fields.
- Appearance: These butterflies are silvery gray with a checkered pattern of white spots. Females are darker and less patterned.
- Size: Adults have a wingspan of 1 to 1.5 inches or 2.5 to 4 centimeters.
- Diet: Adult butterflies feast on nectar from flowers. Baby caterpillars munch on leaves of their host plants.
- Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on tips of host plant leaves. The greenish-white eggs then hatch into caterpillars.
- Lifespan: Their average lifespan ranges from a few weeks to a few months, varying with conditions.
- Host Plants: The caterpillars feed primarily on species in the mallow family, including hollyhock and checkerbloom.
The Common Checkered-Skipper is a tiny wonder of the butterfly world.
Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis Arthemis)
The Red-spotted Purple is a butterfly species that is remarkable for its stunning colors and patterns. Aptly named, this butterfly stands out with its unique physical characteristics.
- Habitat: Primarily found in forested areas and suburban habitats with trees and shrubs.
- Appearance: Known for their iridescent blue-and-black wings with red spots on the undersides.
- Size: With a wingspan of 3 to 3.5 inches (around 7.5 – 8.75 cm), they are visible from a distance.
- Diet: Adults feed on tree sap, ripe fruits, and occasionally on flower nectar.
- Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on leaves of host plants. Caterpillars feed on leaves and rest on silken mats in shelters of rolled leaves.
- Lifespan: Typically, live up to 2 weeks.
- Host Plants: Wild cherry, aspen, poplar, birch, hawthorn, and willow trees are some preferred host plants for their larvae.
A special member of the butterfly community, the colorful Red-spotted Purple is known to put on a mesmerizing display in the Louisiana wild.
Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)
The Silver-spotted Skipper is an engaging butterfly that you may come across in Louisiana. This butterfly species is admired for its attractive silver spot.
- Habitat: It especially thrives in open woodland and fields.
- Appearance: Its dark brown wings are adorned with an unmistakable silver spot, adding to its distinctive beauty.
- Size: With roughly a 2 inches (approx. 5 cm) wingspan, this is a relatively large butterfly.
- Diet: It usually draws nutrients from flowering plants like thistles and milkweeds.
- Reproduction: Females lay eggs on legumes, which later become the caterpillar’s food source.
- Lifespan: In the larval stage, it can overwinter lasting up to 10 months, but as a butterfly, it lives around 10-20 days.
- Host Plants: Caterpillars feed on many species of legumes such as locust and wisteria.
The Silver-spotted Skipper is a joy to discover on Louisiana’s green landscapes.
American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)
This vibrant butterfly is common in Louisiana.
- Habitat: You’ll find the American Lady across various environments. It moves freely in open woods, fields, roadsides, and gardens.
- Appearance: It has a creamy orange color with black and white spots. The lower side of the wings display camouflage patterns.
- Size: The American Lady measures around 1.75 to 2.25 inches (4.4 to 5.7 cm) in wingspan.
- Diet: Nectar from thistles, asters, and goldenrods makes up a huge part of its diet. It feeds on sap occasionally.
- Reproduction: After mating, females lay green eggs on host plants. Golden-furred yellowish-green caterpillars emerge.
- Lifespan: From larvae to butterfly, the lifespan varies, lasting up to 2 months.
- Host Plants: Preferred plants include pussytoes, everlasting, and cudweeds. Caterpillars polish these off before chrysalis.
Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)
This species, the Great Spangled Fritillary, is notable for its bright, spangled wing patterns. It’s primarily encountered from late spring to early fall.
Here’s a snapshot about this butterfly:
- Habitat: Prefers open woodland, fields, and gardens.
- Appearance: Their wings are orange with black spots. Rear wings have silver spots (hence the term ‘spangled’).
- Size: A sizeable butterfly with a wingspan of 2.5-3.5 inches (6.3 – 8.9 cm).
- Diet: Adult butterflies are spotted on flowers; they favor thistles and milkweeds for nectar.
- Reproduction: Female butterflies interact with the males flying near the host plants and lay eggs on or close to violets.
- Lifespan: Adults possess a life expectancy of 2-3 weeks. They complete their life cycle in a year.
- Host Plants: Utilizes violets as larval host plants. After hatching, the caterpillars will overwinter till spring before consuming the violet leaves.
As such, the Great Spangled Fritillary represents a stunning member of Louisiana’s butterfly biodiversity.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
Often seen fluttering in the summertime, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is one of the most distinctive butterflies inhabiting Louisiana.
Here are some key features of this species:
- Habitat: These butterflies thrive in forests, woods, and even urban environments with plenty of deciduous trees.
- Appearance: They boast striking yellow wings adorned with black stripes, similar to a tiger’s coat.
- Size: Weight is about 0.3 oz (8.5 g), and wingspan can range between 3.1 and 5.5 inches (8-14 cm).
- Diet: Adult butterflies feed on the nectar from flowers of various plants while caterpillars prefer leaves.
- Reproduction: Eggs are laid on leaves of host plants where caterpillars stay post-hatching, feeding on leaves till they pupate.
- Lifespan: In butterfly form, their life expectancy fluctuates between 6-14 days. The entire life cycle takes about a month.
- Host Plants: Cherries, Ash, and Willow are among the various host plants for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.
Such are the fascinating aspects of this butterfly, one of the 30 butterfly species residing in Louisiana.
Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)
Take a look at the Hackberry Emperor, or Asterocampa celtis. This butterfly species is particularly common in Louisiana.
- Habitat: It comfortably resides in forest edges, open woodlands, and along streams.
- Appearance: Its outer wings exhibit an attractive mix of brown and orange patterns while the hind-wing undersides flaunt a more subdued mottling.
- Size: The wingspan of this intriguing creature varies between 1.75-2.5 inches (4.4-6.35 cm).
- Diet: Adult Hackberry Emperors prefer dining on tree sap, rotting fruits, dung, and carrion over flower nectar.
- Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on host plants, typically the leaves of hackberry trees.
- Lifespan: These butterflies generally have two to three broods per year. Their lifespan can reach up to two weeks in their flying stage.
- Host Plants: Caterpillars feed on hackberry tree leaves, hence the name ‘Hackberry Emperor’. Notice how the name of the butterfly reflects its own unique lifecycle.
Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)
The Viceroy is widely known for its striking similarity to the Monarch butterfly. It’s interesting that first it was thought of as a classic example of a Batesian mimic, it was later discovered it actually exhibits Müllerian mimicry.
- Habitat: Habitats range from marshes to open or shrubby wetlands. Known to thrive near water bodies such as ponds and rivers.
- Appearance: Viceroys have an orange and black color scheme like Monarchs. However, they have a black line across the hind wings that Monarchs lack.
- Size: A fully grown Viceroy has a wingspan of about 3 inches (approximately 7.5 cm).
- Diet: Caterpillars feed on tree leaves, specifically from willows, poplars, and fruit trees. Adult Viceroys feed on nectar from flowers, decaying fruit, and dung.
- Reproduction: They lay round, green eggs one at a time on host plant leaves.
- Lifespan: Adult Viceroys live for about 2 weeks.
- Host Plants: Willows (Salix), poplars and cottonwoods (Populus), and fruit trees (Prunus).
American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)
The American Snout or Libytheana carinenta is one of the eye-catching butterfly species native to Louisiana.
Having the right knowledge about this winged creature enriches your understanding of the local fauna.
- Habitat: The American Snout prefers woodland edges, open woods, and disturbed sites. They are found throughout both North and South America. They especially thrive in scrubby grasslands and forest edges.
- Appearance: It is identifiable by the long, beak-like labial palpi or “snout.” The upper side of its wings is brown with a white spot on the forewing.
- Size: The wingspan of an American Snout ranges from 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5.1 cm).
- Diet: Their primary food source is nectar from flowers.
- Reproduction: Females lay single, green eggs on host plants like hackberries.
- Lifespan: Adult American Snout butterflies live for around one month.
- Host Plants: Their caterpillars consume a variety of hackberry trees. Understanding their love for specific plants can give you a better chance of spotting them.
Admire these fascinating creatures when you come across them, for their existence adds beauty to the Louisiana environment.
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
The Red Admiral, also known as Vanessa atalanta, is quite a sight to behold.
Let’s dive deeper into understanding this beautiful creature:
- Habitat: They primarily inhabit woodland areas, but can also be seen fluttering around in parks, yards, and moist areas.
- Appearance: The Red Admiral sports an appealing dark brown, red, and black wing pattern. Their wings showcase a unique orange-red band.
- Size: With a wingspan of 1.75 – 2.5 inches (about 4.4 – 6.3 cm), they are considered medium-sized butterflies.
- Diet: They feast mainly on fermented tree sap, overripe fruit, and bird dropping – a diet quite diverse among butterflies.
- Reproduction: They typically lay their eggs on the leaves of nettles, the chosen host plant.
- Lifespan: Adult Red Admirals may live up to six months, a respectable lifespan for a butterfly.
- Host Plants: They prefer plants from the nettle family, including false nettle.
Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)
The Giant Swallowtail is an awe-inspiring butterfly species native to Louisiana.
- Habitat: This species is frequently found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, open fields and suburban gardens.
- Appearance: Known for its striking appearance, it sports a combination of black and yellow hues, with light bands on the wings and torso.
- Size: In terms of size, they’re known to be quite large, with a wingspan of roughly 6 inches (15 cm).
- Diet: Adult Giant Swallowtails feed on nectar from various types of flowers.
- Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the underside of host plant leaves, which hatch into caterpillars that have a unique bird-dropping camouflage pattern.
- Lifespan: The average lifespan of butterflies varies greatly, but adult swallowtails generally live for about 1 month.
- Host Plants: As for their host plants, you’ll find them on citrus trees, prickly ash, and hop tree among others.
The Giant Swallowtail is one species that never fails to captivate butterfly enthusiasts.
Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton)
The Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton) is a lovely species to sight.
- Habitat: They’re seen mainly in wooded areas, particularly in Louisiana’s deciduous forests.
- Appearance: The Tawny Emperor has a warm, rich, orange-brown color, with striking dark patterns.
- Size: Wingspan ranging between 2.3 to 2.9 inches (5.8 to 7.4 cm) for males and 2.4 to 3.1 inches (6.1 to 7.9 cm) for females.
- Diet: One unique trait is that adults don’t eat flower nectar but feed on tree sap and rotting fruits.
- Reproduction: The females lay eggs in clusters on the host plants.
- Lifespan: They live for approximately 7 days in the wild. A short yet spectacular life.
- Host Plants: Hackberry trees are their favorite, where they lay eggs and caterpillars feed on the leaves.
Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
As a butterfly enthusiast, you will certainly appreciate learning about the Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa).
- Habitat: A true generalist, this species can be found nearly everywhere including forests, cities, and suburbs throughout Louisiana.
- Appearance: Boasting an appealing pattern, the Mourning Cloak showcases a deep maroon with a bright, yellowish edge, hence the ‘Cloak’. Tiny blue spots highlight the edges.
- Size: It’s generous in size, expanding up to 4 inches (approximately 10 centimeters).
- Diet: Adults feed on tree sap, especially oak. They sometimes feast on rotting fruit and even animal dung.
- Reproduction: Females lay clusters of eggs on host plants. These hatch into caterpillars, which later transform into adults.
- Lifespan: Impressively, this species stays alive up to 12 months, making it one of the longest-living butterflies.
- Host Plants: Host plants typically include willow, elm, and poplar, on which the female lays her eggs.
The Mourning Cloak presents a unique beauty not to be missed in your backyard.
Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)
The Spicebush Swallowtail is an extraordinary butterfly specimen you can spot in Louisiana.
Here are fascinating details about this butterfly:
- Habitat: Thrives in deciduous woodlands, meadows, and bogs.
- Appearance: Blue iridescent coloring on the upper portion of the hind wings, and dark-brown to black-colored fore wings.
- Size: Wing span’s around 3.5-4.5 inches (8.9-11.4 cm).
- Diet: Caterpillars feed on the leaves of spicebush plants; adults ingest nectar from a variety of plants.
- Reproduction: Females lay single green-colored eggs on undersides of leaves.
- Lifespan: Adult butterflies typically live around a month.
- Host Plants: Mostly Spicebush and other trees like sweetbay, sassafras, and tulip trees.
This butterfly is striking in its beauty. The glossy wings glint in sunlight captivating the hearts of nature lovers everywhere. It truly embellishes the rich biodiversity of Louisiana.
Harvester (Feniseca tarquinius)
The Harvester is a unique butterfly species you can spot in Louisiana.
- Habitat: Peculiarly, it prefers moist environments near water bodies.
- Appearance: Displaying a beautiful orange and brown pattern, it’s hard to overlook.
- Size: On average, it spans about 1.3 inches (3.3 cm), making it small yet noticeable.
- Diet: Unusually, the now rare Harvester is the only carnivorous butterfly species in North America.
- Reproduction: Females lay eggs on woolly aphids, which later become the caterpillar’s food.
- Lifespan: Typically, the Harvester lives for about a week in butterfly form.
- Host Plants: Woolly aphids are not only food but the host plant for Harvesters. This oddity contributes to its decrease due to habitats destruction.
Spotting a Harvester is a special experience, given the rarity and unique nature of the species.
Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas)
The Eastern Tailed-Blue is a fascinating creature to observe. Found across the Louisiana countryside, this butterfly species embodies elegance and beauty.
- Habitat: They primarily inhabit open spaces such as fields, meadows, roadsides, and even your own backyard.
- Appearance: The males exhibit a captivating bright blue on top, while females boast a softer hue with extensive gray or brown.
- Size: Typically, the Eastern Tailed-Blue has a wingspan of 0.9-1.2 inches (approximately 2.3-3.0 cm).
- Diet: These butterflies, possess a sweet tooth, feeding primarily on flower nectar, decaying fruit, and sometimes, damp soil.
- Reproduction: Females lay their tiny eggs on the buds of host plants.
- Lifespan: On average, their lifespan ranges from a few days to a week.
- Host Plants: You’ll find them using a variety of legumes, including clovers, wild peas, and beans.
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)
A vision worth marveling at, the Gulf Fritillary is a stunner among the butterfly species in Louisiana.
- Habitat: This beauty thrives in different environments from meadows, roadsides to urban parks and gardens.
- Appearance: Vibrant orange wings with black spots give this species its unique look. The underwings, however, are hued in dull red.
- Size: The Gulf Fritillary spans an approx size of 2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.4 – 9 cm), showcasing a moderate size compared to other species.
- Diet: Adult Gulf Fritillaries primarily feed on nectar from a variety of flowers.
- Reproduction: Females lay their yellow eggs individually on host plants, mostly on the leaves of the passion vine.
- Lifespan: The adults have a lifespan ranging from 2 to 3 weeks.
- Host Plants: A unique aspect of Gulf Fritillaries is their reliance on passion vines as host plants for their caterpillars.
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
Meet the Cabbage White, Pieris rapae. A common resident in Louisiana, you’ve likely seen it fluttering around nearby.
- Habitat: These butterflies adapt well to different conditions. They inhabit gardens, fields, and roadsides.
- Appearance: Adults are white with small black spots. The underside of the hindwing is pale greenish-yellow.
- Size: Their wingspan ranges from 1.75 to 2.25 inches, or 44 to 57 millimeters.
- Diet: Adult Cabbage Whites feed on flower nectar. The caterpillars favor cruciferous plants.
- Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on host plants. Multiple generations occur annually.
- Lifespan: For adult butterflies, life lasts about 2-3 weeks. Longer if they’re overwintering.
- Host Plants: Caterpillars of Cabbage White feed primarily on crucifers. They consume cabbage, broccoli, radish, and mustard plants.
Seeing a Cabbage White is like finding a small speck of floating cotton. They’re a delicate addition to Louisiana’s vibrant butterfly population.
Common Mestra (Mestra amymone)
The Common Mestra, scientifically known as Mestra amymone, is undoubtedly a unique species to observe.
It commonly resides in the southeastern parts of Louisiana, embracing the semi-tropical climates.
- Habitat: Prefer open areas, agricultural lands, and gardens.
- Appearance: It has a distinctive greyish brown color coupled with checkered edges and brown lines.
- Size: With a wingspan ranging from 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm), it’s seen as quite average-sized.
- Diet: Adult Common Mestras feed on the nectar of a variety of flowers such as sunflowers.
- Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on host plants which later transfigures into brown or green caterpillars.
- Lifespan: Exact lifespan is unknown, but most butterfly species live a few weeks to a few months.
- Host Plants: Frequently observed on False Nettle, mimicking their surroundings and keeping them safe from predators.
These physical attributes make the Common Mestra an impressive jewel in Louisiana’s butterfly species.
In essence, Louisiana is a thriving sanctuary for a rich diversity of butterfly species.
From the vibrant Monarch to the subtle Cabbage White, each butterfly adds a splash of color to the Louisiana landscape.
What’s your favorite butterfly out of these 30 species? Please leave a comment below.