30 Butterfly Species in Maryland

Venture into the colorful world of Maryland’s butterflies with us, discovering 30 fascinating and diverse species.

From the majestic Black Swallowtail to the delicate White Admiral, this guide familiarizes you with their special characteristics and habits.

Buckle up as we delve into the wings and wilderness of Maryland, enriching your knowledge and understanding of these graceful creatures.

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

As a butterfly lover, you’ll undoubtedly appreciate the Black Swallowtail. This species, scientifically known as Papilio polyxenes, is truly one-of-a-kind.

Black Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: You’ll encounter this species in open fields, along roadsides, and in your own backyard.
  • Appearance: Identifying this butterfly is a breeze. It has black wings adorned with yellow spots. Plus, mature females exhibit blue spots on their hind wings.
  • Size: It’s a moderately large butterfly, typically measuring 3-4 inches (7.6-10.2 cm).
  • Diet: Larvae feed primarily on plants in the parsley family. As adults, they sip nectar from flowers.
  • Reproduction: After mating, females lay single, spherical eggs, usually on the underside of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Under optimal conditions the life cycle lasts 24 days. Adults live 9 to 19 days in the wild.
  • Host Plants: They favor plants in the carrot family, such as Queen Anne’s Lace, and herbs like dill and parsley.

A charming, fluttering addition to Maryland’s diverse butterfly population.

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

As we continue our journey through Maryland’s vibrant butterfly species, we meet the Pearl Crescent. This dainty marvel adds color to our list.

Pearl Crescent butterfly

  • Habitat: Pearl Crescents call open areas and fields of Maryland their home.
  • Appearance: They have an orange and black marked upper side, and their underside reveals a crescent-shaped mark, hence their name.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm), they are indeed quite compact.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies primarily feed on nectar from flowers, drawing sustenance from the environment around them.
  • Reproduction: These beauties are multi-brooded and reproduce through the entire warm season.
  • Lifespan: Pearl Crescents have an average lifespan of about 7-10 days, making their time fleeting yet precious.
  • Host Plants: They prefer aster plants for laying their eggs, highlighting their preference for flowering botany.

Thus, the Pearl Crescent graces Maryland with its light and vibrant presence, a delightful sight for nature enthusiasts!

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

The Orange Sulphur, also known as the Alfalfa Butterfly, is a common species present in Maryland. This charming butterfly contributes remarkably to the bright and lively display of the Maryland landscape.

Orange Sulphur butterfly

  • Habitat: Abundantly found in open fields, meadows, and along roadways.
  • Appearance: Displaying shades of yellow and orange, females may also have a greenish-white color. The edges of the wings showcase typical black borders.
  • Size: With wingspans ranging from 1.25 to 2 inches (32 – 50mm), they are of moderate size.
  • Diet: These nectar feeders prefer flowers like Aster, Milkweed, and Goldenrod.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single, round, light green eggs on the host plants.
  • Lifespan: Their adult lifespan typically lasts for about a month, from spring to fall.
  • Host Plants: Mainly Alfalfa and clover, however, it’s also found in various leguminous plants.

The Orange Sulphur’s vibrant hues and presence in various environments make it a standout among Maryland’s butterfly species.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

The Monarch is one of the most recognizable butterflies in Maryland. Its brilliant orange and black markings are truly a sight to behold.


  • Habitat: Monarchs abound in many environments, from grasslands to city parks.
  • Appearance: They sport orange wings, veined and edged in black. Can’t miss those exquisite white spots either.
  • Size: Wingspans range from 3.7 to 4.1 inches, or 9 to 10 centimeters.
  • Diet: As adults, Monarchs primarily consume nectar from flowers. Caterpillars, on the other hand, chow down on milkweed.
  • Reproduction: After mating, female Monarchs lay eggs on milkweed plants. In about 4 days, voracious caterpillars hatch.
  • Lifespan: Did you know an adult Monarch can live up to 9 months? It’s nearly unheard of among butterflies.
  • Host Plants: Milkweed species are the sole hosts for Monarch larvae. It’s essential to their survival and chain of life.

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

The Spicebush Swallowtail is frequently sighted in Maryland’s wooded and marshy territories. Named after one specific plant it feeds on, it is a sight to behold and appreciate.

Keep reading to learn more about this fascinating butterfly species.

Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: They primarily inhabit woodlands, fields, and marshy regions.
  • Appearance: The wings are dark, almost black, with light spots. You’ll find blue patches on the lower side of back wings.
  • Size: The average wingspan ranges from 3.5 to 4.5 inches (8.9cm to 11.4cm).
  • Diet: Its caterpillars feast on spicebush leaves. The adults feed on nectar from various flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single, round, pale-green eggs on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: They live for approximately one month in the wild.
  • Host Plants: Spicebush Swallowtails are so named because their larvae feed on spicebush. They also feed on sassafras and other trees in the laurel family.

Baltimore (Euphydryas phaeton)

The Baltimore, or Baltimore Checkerspot, is a distinct butterfly, easily identifiable by its unique pattern. This stunning creature is native to Maryland and bears the name of one of its famous cities.

Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly

  • Habitat: Usually found in moist meadows, marshes, and wetlands, giving you ample opportunities to catch a glimpse within Maryland’s diverse ecosystems.
  • Appearance: This butterfly sports a bold color palette, with a black upper surface decorated with orange and white spots.
  • Size: Adults typically span from 1.75 to 2.5 inches (4.4 to 6.3 cm), making them easy to spot.
  • Diet: Adult Baltimores primarily feast on flower nectar from plants like milkweed or dogbane.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the underside of host plant leaves where the young caterpillars will have immediate access to food.
  • Lifespan: Typical lifespan is around 10-11 months, dependent on environmental conditions.
  • Host Plants: Baltimore caterpillars particularly favor turtlehead plants, penstemon, and honeysuckle for nourishment.

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

The Red-spotted Purple butterfly is a captivating species native to Maryland that carries the scientific name, Limenitis arthemis.

You’ll notice it’s characterized by striking scales that shimmer in purple-blue from certain angles under sunlight.

Red-spotted Purple butterfly

  • Habitat: They are highly adaptable and can be seen thriving in varied habitats, from forest edges to suburban gardens.
  • Appearance: They exhibit deep blue iridescence on the upper side of their wings, accented by orange-red eyespots and white bars.
  • Size: This species typically measures between 2.8 to 3.5 inches (7 to 9cm), giving them an impressive wing span.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on rotten fruits, sap and bird droppings, while caterpillars prefer wild cherry and willow leaves.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single green eggs on top of the host plant’s leaves. Upon hatching, the larvae fashion themselves a leafy shelter.
  • Lifespan: Adults may live for approximately two weeks, with the entire lifecycle taking around 40 days.
  • Host Plants: Preferred host plants include a variety of trees such as cherries, willows, birch and poplar.

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

This exceptional butterfly is notable for its unique beauty. Spotting the Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) in Maryland is a delight providing a striking contrast against lush green foliage.

Mourning Cloak butterfly

  • Habitat: You will commonly find them in sunny, open areas like meadows, fields, gardens, and parks.
  • Appearance: Mourning Cloaks boast a rich maroon-brown upper wing with a yellow border and a row of royal blue spots at the edges.
  • Size: This large butterfly spans around 2.25-4 inches (5.7-10cm).
  • Diet: Typically, they feed on tree sap, but occasionally enjoy nectar and rotting fruit.
  • Reproduction: They lay eggs in clusters on the undersides of leaves, especially on the cold-hardy willow, elm, and poplar.
  • Lifespan: Unlike most butterflies with a short lifespan, Mourning Cloaks can live up to 10-11 months.
  • Host Plants: The preferred host plants are willows, elms, and poplars where females typically deposit their eggs.

The Mourning Cloak is a steadfast butterfly, surviving in climates with harsh winters and making an early appearance in the spring.

It is a remarkable species native to the diverse butterfly population in Maryland.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

The American Lady, scientifically known as Vanessa virginiensis, is one fascinating butterfly to come across in Maryland.

American Lady butterfly

  • Habitat: You’ll often find them in open areas like meadows, fields or gardens.
  • Appearance: They spot a beautiful orange-colored body with black and white patches on the upper side of their wings. You’d recognize them by the two large eyespots on their undersides.
  • Size: This butterfly species comes in a medium size, with a wingspan between 1.75 and 2.4 inches (4.4-6 cm).
  • Diet: Its diet primarily includes nectar from flowers such as milkweed and violets.
  • Reproduction: Female American ladies lay their eggs individually on host plants for the caterpillars to feed upon hatching.
  • Lifespan: In their butterfly stage, American Ladies live for about 2 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars feed on diverse host plants including ironweed, burdock, and pussytoes.

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

The Great Spangled Fritillary, scientifically named Speyeria cybele, is a fascinating butterfly species that flutters vivaciously in Maryland.

Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: These butterflies love open areas, such as meadows, open woods, and fields.
  • Appearance: They have large, bright orange wings with black spots, usually vibrant in males.
  • Size: On average, their wingspan ranges from 2.5 to 3.75 inches (~6.3 to ~9.5 cm).
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from various flowers, while larvae consume violets.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs near violet plants, which caterpillars eat after hatching.
  • Lifespan: Adult lifespan is quite short, typically a few weeks in the summer.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plants are the various species of violet found in their habitat.

This species is truly a gem in the collection of Maryland’s butterfly ecosystem, for its distinctive colors and patterns.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

The Cabbage White, commonly recognized by its distinctive white wings with black spots, is a frequent visitor to Maryland gardens.

Cabbage White butterfly

  • Habitat: Broadly, Cabbage Whites are found in open areas with nectar sources and host plants. Specifically, you might spot them in your personal garden, in fields, or even along roadsides.
  • Appearance: Boasting a bright white hue, these butterflies are conveniently named. On the upper side, female butterflies display two black spots, while the males have one.
  • Size: A medium-sized butterfly, the wingspan ranges between 1.4 and 2.2 inches (or 3.5 and 5.5 centimeters).
  • Diet: The adult Cabbage White survives on nectar while the larvae feed on host plants.
  • Reproduction: The female lays single eggs on the host plants. When hatched, the larvae eat their way through the leaves.
  • Lifespan: Their life is fleeting, living just around 3 weeks on average.
  • Host Plants: Various plants in the mustard family serve as their host including cabbage, broccoli, and other kitchen garden favorites.

These insects are interesting, but gardeners should be wary of their larvae, which can be a pest to your leafy plants.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

The Red Admiral, scientifically known as Vanessa atalanta, is a delight to the Maryland landscape.

red-admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: This species can be found across the state, preferring moist environments such as wooded areas and near bodies of water.
  • Appearance: Recognisable by its striking pattern of red bands and white spots against a black background on the upper side of its wings.
  • Size: Its wingspan tends to be between 1.75 and 3 inches (4.5 to 7.6 centimeters).
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from several types of flowering plant, but also tree sap, and they are also known to enjoy ripened fruits.
  • Reproduction: It reproduces in two seasons, spring and fall, with females laying their eggs on the undersides of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: An adult Red Admiral typically lives for about 2 weeks to a month.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed primarily on nettles, including the stinging nettle and the small nettle.

The Red Admiral displays migratory behavior, often traveling large distances in North America.

Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)

The Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) is a fascinating butterfly species, distinguished by its unique characteristics.

Eastern Comma butterfly

  • Habitat: These butterflies thrive in an array of habitats, from swamps to woodlands. They are particularly populous in rural areas.
  • Appearance: Eastern Commas boast orange-brown wings, spotted with black dots, and have a silvery comma-shaped mark on their lower wings hence the name.
  • Size: Their wings span between 1.5 to 2.5 inches (3.8 to 6.4 cm), making them small to medium in size.
  • Diet: Adults feed on decaying fruit and tree sap. As caterpillars, they forage on willow, elm, and hackberry leaves.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs, singly, on host plant leaves. These hatch into caterpillars after around two weeks.
  • Lifespan: They live approximately 1-2 months, with annual species producing two generations per year.
  • Host Plants: Preferred hosts are members of the elm and willow families, where females lay eggs to produce the next set of caterpillars.

Aphrodite Fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite)

The Aphrodite Fritillary captures the heart of many butterfly watchers. Found in meadows, fields, and mountaintops, it’s a species that’s hard to miss.

Aphrodite Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: Its habitat ranges from open fields to forest edges or streams.
  • Appearance: It displays unique markings, orange and black on top with marginal silver spots underneath. Perhaps it’s the goddess-like beauty that earns its name.
  • Size: On average, the wingspan is about 2.2 to 3 inches (5.6 to 7.6 cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed primarily on nectar from a variety of flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on or nearby their host plants. The caterpillars will feed on these plants upon hatching.
  • Lifespan: Aphrodite Fritillaries live for about one month as adults.
  • Host Plants: The main host plants are violets (Viola species).

Notice this exquisite species next time you’re out exploring Maryland’s wild fields.

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

The Gray Hairstreak, scientifically named Strymon melinus, is one of the most common hairstreaks in North America.

Found throughout the year in Maryland, these butterflies are a sight to behold.

Gray Hairstreak butterfly

Here are some intriguing facts about them:

  • Habitat: Ranging from gardens to open fields and meadows, they aren’t picky about their surroundings.
  • Appearance: They impress with gray wings that have an elegant stripe running along with small orange spots near its tail.
  • Size: They’re quite small, with a wingspan of only 1 – 1.5 inches (2.5 – 3.8 cm).
  • Diet: Adults enjoy nectar from a variety of plants, including goldenrod and winter cress.
  • Reproduction: A female lays eggs singly on various host plants.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan in the wild is about 1 month, but depending on conditions it may vary.
  • Host Plants: Gray Hairstreak caterpillars are generalists, meaning they feed on a wide range of plants.

To conclude, the Gray Hairstreak is a versatile and adaptable butterfly, making it a prevalent sight in Maryland.

Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)

The Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis) is one of the unique butterflies you can spot in Maryland.

Hackberry Emperor butterfly

  • Habitat: You’ll find these butterflies near hackberry trees, their primary host plant. They love to reside in sunny, open woodland areas.
  • Appearance: With distinct brown, creamy markings and a streak of orange spots, Hackberry Emperors are beautiful sight to behold.
  • Size: Not too large, not too small—their wingspan ranges around 2 to 2.5 inches (5 to 6.35 cm).
  • Diet: These butterflies have an unusually diverse palette. They feed on hackberry leaves, sap, rotting fruit, animal dung, and even carrion.
  • Reproduction: Hackberry Emperors breed twice a year and lay their eggs on the underside of leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adult Hackberry Emperors live for around two weeks.
  • Host Plants: As the name suggests, the hackberry tree is the main host plant for these butterflies.

Spotting a Hackberry Emperor can be a real treat for nature enthusiasts, thanks to their curious and friendly nature.

Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis)

A sight to behold, the Silvery Checkerspot butterfly is one of Maryland’s many treasures.

Silvery Checkerspot butterfly

Discover more about this species below:

  • Habitat: Found in fields, woodland edges, and roadsides, these butterflies adapt seamlessly to human-altered habitats.
  • Appearance: A cheery orange and brown with conspicuous white spots on the wings, it’s always a delightful encounter.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 1.5 to 2.25 inches (4 to 5.7 cm), they are moderately sized butterflies.
  • Diet: The adult Silvery Checkerspots are fond of nectar from various flowering plants. In their caterpillar stage, they feed on the leaves of their host plants.
  • Reproduction: They lay their eggs in clusters on the undersides of leaves.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterflies live for about a month during summer.
  • Host Plants: Their preferred host plants include the sunflower family, especially Aster and Chrysanthemum.

Admiring the Silvery Checkerspot is one way to appreciate the biodiversity in Maryland.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a butterfly that will captivate you with its grace and beauty.

eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly

Here are some fascinating facts about this magical insect:

  • Habitat: Typically, this butterfly prefers deciduous woods, river valleys and parks across Maryland.
  • Appearance: It’s known for its yellow body with vibrantly black tiger-like stripes. Females can also be black colored, mimicking the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail.
  • Size: Its wingspan can reach between 3-5.5 inches (7.6-14 cm) wide.
  • Diet: Adults feast on flower nectar while the caterpillars enjoy the leaves of host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay spherical light green eggs singly on the undersides of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: As a butterfly, it lives about two weeks. However, the total life cycle from egg to end of adult life can be several months.
  • Host Plants: These include trees such as the Wild Cherry, Magnolia, Birch, and Tulip Poplar.

American copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

The American copper butterfly is a small yet captivating species found in a variety of environments. Let’s explore this vibrant creature in depth.

American Copper butterfly

  • Habitat: It enjoys a diverse habitat range, spanning meadows, hedges to even rocky or sandy beaches.
  • Appearance: Its bright copper upper wing surface and eye-catching dark spots offer a magnificent sight.
  • Size: With a wingspan range of 22-27mm (0.86-1.06 inches), they’re a delightful sight, always flitting about.
  • Diet: Consuming nectar from small flowers forms the crux of their diet. Dandelions are a particular favorite.
  • Reproduction: Involves them laying pale green colored eggs which then bravely endure winter’s pull before springing to life.
  • Lifespan: They live up to a year, an impressive feat, given their vulnerability to weather and predators.
  • Host Plants: Primarily, it is to be found on Sheep Sorrel and Common Sorrel plants, where it lays its eggs.

From coast to coast, this creature is a remarkable addition to Maryland’s colourful butterfly populace.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

The Common Buckeye, scientifically known as Junonia coenia, is a striking butterfly species that’s abundant in Maryland.

Common Buckeye butterfly

  • Habitat: Predominantly spotted in open, sunny spaces such as paths and fields. They can also be found in a variety of other habitats, including dunes and gardens.
  • Appearance: Known for their distinctively large eye-spots and warm brown, yellow and orange hues, they possess a festive autumn palette on their wings.
  • Size: Wingspan ranges from 1.5 to 2.7 inches (38 to 70mm), making it relatively easy to spot.
  • Diet: The caterpillar feeds on a variety of plants, while adults primarily feed on nectar from flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay the eggs on host plants. The caterpillars hatch and feed on these plants.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan is around two weeks in their butterfly stage.
  • Host Plants: Common Buckeyes primarily use plants from the snapdragon family, including toadflax, false foxglove, and plantains.

Eastern tail-blue (Cupido comyntas)

The Eastern tail-blue is a small butterfly with a vibrant character. Let’s dive deeper into their world.

Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: This species can be found across Maryland, often fluttering around open areas like fields and roadsides.
  • Appearance: They have a spectacular blue upper side of the wings while the underside is grayish-white with tiny black spots.
  • Size: As a petite butterfly, it measures only about an inch (2.5 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies mainly feed on nectar from various flowers, while caterpillars munch on legumes.
  • Reproduction: They typically lay eggs singly on the buds of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Surprisingly, these tiny creatures live up to one month, which is quite a feat in the bug world.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars prefer legume family plants, so you’ll often find them on beans, peas, and clovers.

This species truly is a small yet beautiful part of Maryland’s ecological tapestry.

Great purple hairstreak (Atlides halesus)

The Great purple hairstreak is a captivating butterfly species to observe, offering a mixture of breathtaking colors and patterns.

Great Purple Hairstreak, Atlides halesus corcorani

  • Habitat: Mainly found in wooded areas with an abundance of leaves and canopies. They prefer warm climates and are often spotted sunbathing.
  • Appearance: They are known for their deep blue and black upper wings, with the lower wings tinged purple and adorned with tiny red spots.
  • Size: Quite small, with a wing span usually ranging from 1.0 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm).
  • Diet: Primarily nectar drinkers. They are fond of mistletoe berries and are often found in areas where these plants thrive.
  • Reproduction: Females typically lay their eggs on new growth of their host plants.
  • Lifespan: Little is known about their lifespan, however, most hairstreaks live for about a week as a butterfly.
  • Host Plants: Mistletoe is the chosen host plant for the Great purple hairstreak. The female lays eggs on the tips of this plant’s young stems, providing nourishment for when the larvae hatch.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

A common visitor to Maryland, the Painted Lady butterfly adds a splash of color to the local flora.

painted lady butterfly

  • Habitat: Adaptable, the Painted Lady thrives in diverse humid environments: gardens, meadows, open or disturbed areas.
  • Appearance: It draws attention with its pinkish-orange to reddish-brown wings covered in a pattern of black markings and white spots.
  • Size: Adults exhibit 2 to 3.5 inches (5-9 cm) wing span.
  • Diet: Primarily nectar feeders, they enjoy aster, cosmos, blazing star, and even buttonbush.
  • Reproduction: Aside from mating mid-air, females lay eggs singly on host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Short but significant, these butterflies live up to 4 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Thistles, mallow and hollyhock form its key choice for caterpillar food plants.

With this resilient butterfly species, you get to witness one of Mother Earth’s delightful beauties.

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

In Maryland, the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly is a sight to behold.

giant swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: They inhabit a wide range of ecosystems including forests, swamps, and suburban gardens.
  • Appearance: Recognizable by their dark brown to black wings adorned by a striking yellow band.
  • Size: They are quite large, boasting a wingspan of up to 6 inches (about 15 cm).
  • Diet: Adult swallowtails are fond of nectar from plants like lantana and trumpet vine.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the underside of host plants. The resulting caterpillars are known for their bird dropping mimicry.
  • Lifespan: They live for approximately one month in their butterfly stage.
  • Host Plants: They rely on citrus plants, especially those from the Rutaceae family.

Their striking appearance combined with their impressive size make the Giant Swallowtail one of the unforgettable butterflies in Maryland.

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)

Meet the Zebra Heliconian, unique for its ability to survive on pollen, which allows for a lifespan of several months, unlike other butterflies.

zebra longwing butterfly

  • Habitat: Typically, it’s domicile ranges from South and Central America, but it can also be found in Florida and southern Texas.
  • Appearance: Its black wings with stripe pattern make it look like a flying zebra.
  • Size: With a wingspan of 3.5-4 inches (or 8.9-10.2 centimeters), it’s quite a spectacle.
  • Diet: What’s interesting is that they like to eat pollen and nectar from plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the leaves of Passion Vines.
  • Lifespan: They incorporate the pollen they feed on into their own bodies, extending their life by months. A Zebra Heliconian’s lifespan is an impressive 6 months.
  • Host Plants: Passion Vines serve not only as feeding grounds but also as nurseries.

Clouded sulphur (Colias philodice)

The Clouded sulphur is a stunning butterfly that’s worthy of note as you explore Maryland’s vast, rich ecological diversity.

Clouded Sulphur butterfly

Here’s a rundown of this fascinating species:

  • Habitat: Primarily, you’ll encounter these butterflies in fields, gardens, meadows, roadsides, and marshes.
  • Appearance: They are yellow or white with sharp margins on their upperside. On their underside, they’re pale green with silver cell spots.
  • Size: Size-wise, their spread typically spans between 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cms).
  • Diet: As adults, these creatures sip nectar from many different flowers including clovers, milkweeds, and asters.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on host plants, from which larvae emerge.
  • Lifespan: It’s quite short, averaging around 2 weeks.
  • Host Plants: You’ll find the larvae on leguminous plants such as species of the clover and alfalfa families.

Each encounter with a Clouded sulphur in Maryland adds a little more enchantment to your day, so be sure to keep an eye out!

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

The Gulf Fritillary is a striking butterfly species you’ll easily recognize in Maryland. This orange beauty boasts an intricate silver-spotted underwing, which they show off while resting or during their feeding activities.

gulf fritillary

  • Habitat: This butterfly species is commonly sighted in open woods, gardens, and fields.
  • Appearance: Recognizable by its bright orange wings covered in black spots and stunning silver underwings speckled with black dots.
  • Size: They typically have a wingspan between 2.5 to 3.5 inches (6 to 8.9 cm).
  • Diet: Adult Gulf Fritillaries have a penchant for nectar from flowers, while the larvae feed on passion vines.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale-yellow eggs on the leaves of host plants, which later hatch into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Their average lifespan ranges from a few weeks to a couple of months, hatching from spring till late fall.
  • Host Plants: Their preferred host plants are various species of Passion vines, especially Passiflora incarnata and Passiflora lutea.

In the next section, we continue our exploration of Maryland’s impressive butterfly species.

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

The Question Mark, scientifically known as Polygonia interrogationis, is quite the fascinating species of butterfly.

Question Mark butterfly

Let’s dive into the details of this marvel:

  • Habitat: Typically, this species can be found in forest edges, city parks, and woodland areas. In Maryland, it tends to prefer open, sunny locations.
  • Appearance: Its recognisable feature is the silver mark shaped like a question mark on the underside of its hindwing.
  • Size: Adult butterflies measure 2 to 3 inches (5 – 7.6cm) across.
  • Diet: As an adult, it feeds on sap, rotting fruit, as well as animal dung or carrion.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale green eggs singly on various tree leaves.
  • Lifespan: These butterflies live approximately two months in their adult stage.
  • Host Plants: They favor elm trees, hackberries, nettles, and false nettles for laying eggs and feeding larvae.

Now, you know why the Question Mark butterfly is truly a unique species.

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

The Viceroy or Limenitis archippus is one of 30 butterfly species that you may see in Maryland.


Check the traits below to help you identify it:

  • Habitat: Viceroys are often found around marshes, swamps, and wet open areas.
  • Appearance: They have a striking, rusty-orange coloring with black lines across the wings.
  • Size: Their wingspan is around 2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.35 to 8.89 cm).
  • Diet: The adult Viceroy butterflies feed on rotting fruit, tree sap, and flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: Each female Viceroy can lay hundreds of eggs on the underside of the host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adult Viceroys usually live for about two weeks.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars favor willow and poplar trees.

With such distinct features, spotting the Viceroy in the wild becomes a memorable experience. So, next time you’re in Maryland, be sure to keep an eye out for this beauty.

White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis arthemis)

The White Admiral is a captivating sight in the Maryland wild.

White Admiral butterfly

Let’s delve into more detail about this lovely species:

  • Habitat: White Admirals are often found in moist woodlands and deciduous forests.
  • Appearance: They stand out with their striking black and white wing pattern, with a row of blue spots along the hindwing.
  • Size: A full-grown adult extends to about 2.0-2.8 inches (50-70 mm), wingtip to wingtip.
  • Diet: The adult butterflies enjoy the nectar from flowers as well as sap from trees. The caterpillars munch on the leaves of aspen, poplar, and willow trees.
  • Reproduction: They lay their eggs on the undersides of host plant leaves. The caterpillars emerge after about two weeks.
  • Lifespan: Adult White Admiral butterflies have a lifespan of around two to three weeks.
  • Host Plants: The preferred hosts are aspen, poplar, and willow trees, where the caterpillars develop into beautiful butterflies.


Over the course of this article, you’ve embarked on a journey through the stunning array of butterfly species found in Maryland.

From the common Cabbage White to the majestic Monarch, each fluttering creature paints a vibrant stroke in Maryland’s rich biodiversity.

Feel free to leave a comment below, sharing which butterfly species particularly stands out to you.

Butterflies   Updated: August 8, 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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