30 Butterfly Species in New York

Discover the diversity of the butterfly population in New York. In this article, we’ll explore 30 different butterfly species that flourish in the state.

Each species comes with its own distinctive features and interesting facts to be admired.

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

Let’s meet the Pipevine Swallowtail, a fascinating butterfly species. This breathtaking creature often leaves observers in awe with its unique features.

Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: Predominantly found near pipevines, their primary food source.
  • Appearance: Distinguished by iridescent blue or blue-green hindwings.
  • Size: Medium-sized, with a wingspan ranging from three to three and a half inches (8-9 cm).
  • Diet: As adults, they feed on nectar from a variety of flowers. Their caterpillars prefer pipevine.
  • Reproduction: Females lay batches of small yellow eggs on the underside of pipevine leaves.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan varies from one to three weeks after becoming full-grown butterflies.
  • Host Plants: Primarily the pipevine plant (Aristolochia species), hence the name.

These butterflies, like many others, are an integral part of the ecological balance of our environment. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

The Orange Sulphur is one of the most widely distributed butterfly species in North America.

Orange Sulphur butterfly

Let’s get to know this charming little creature a little better:

  • Habitat: They’re often seen in meadows, alfalfa fields, and along roadways where their host plants are common.
  • Appearance: This species becomes easily identifiable by their bright orange wings with black borders, and a solid black spot on the underside.
  • Size: Orange Sulphur’s size ranges around 1.75-2.25 inches (about 44 to 57 mm).
  • Diet: As adults, they particularly enjoy the nectar of clover, thistles, and asters.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single, greenish-white eggs on the host plant.
  • Lifespan: Short. Their entire life cycle lasts 1 month; from egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, and then butterfly.
  • Host Plants: Frequently seen on alfalfa, white clover, and pea plants.

This owner of radiant wings, the Orange Sulphur, is an integral part of the New York butterfly scene.

Even if their lifespan may sound short to us, they surely leave a lasting impression with their dazzling color.

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

The Great Spangled Fritillary proves a sight to behold. It’s a key member of the butterfly species in New York.

Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: These beauties prefer open woodlands, meadows, and gardens. They thrive in areas with flowers all year round.
  • Appearance: Females are darker, males have brighter spots. They feature silver spots on their underwings – a namesake trait.
  • Size: The wingspan averages between 2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.3 – 8.8 cm). Quite the spectacle, right?
  • Diet: Adults drink nectar from variety of flowers. Caterpillars munch on violets.
  • Reproduction: Every summer, females lay eggs on or near violets – the larval food.
  • Lifespan: About a year. By late fall, caterpillars overwinter then pupate in spring.
  • Host Plants: Violets get the honor. More violet plants equal more Great Spangled Fritillaries.

Truly, the Great Spangled Fritillary wins hearts through its charm and elegance.

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)

The Clouded Sulphur, scientifically known as Colias philodice, is one of the most common butterflies you’ll chance upon in New York. A lot about its way of life whispers understated charm.

Clouded Sulphur butterfly

Here are some basic facts about this butterfly:

  • Habitat: It prefers open spaces – think fields, meadows, and roadsides.
  • Appearance: These flaunt yellow wings with solid black borders for males, whereas females own yellow or greenish-white wings with a row of black spots.
  • Size: With a wingspan of 1.25 to 2 inches, or 32 to 50mm, it’s a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: The Clouded Sulphur feeds on flower nectar, favoring plants like asters and milkweeds.
  • Reproduction: They have 2 to 3 broods per year, mostly in the warmer months.
  • Lifespan: Typically, these butterflies live for a few weeks in the adult stage.
  • Host Plants: Clover, alfalfa, and other legumes act as primary host plants for the Clouded Sulphur larvae.

Quite the survivor, don’t you think?

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

The Red Admiral, also known as Vanessa atalanta, is among the most striking butterflies that call New York their home.

Espousing a cosmopolitan nature, you can spot this exquisite butterfly wherever you go.

red admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: It thrives in a wide range of habitats like moist woods, farms and even your picturesque backyard.
  • Appearance: The Red Admiral possesses striking dark brown, red, and black wing patterns, definitely easy to spot!
  • Size: Their wing span ranges from 1.75 to 2.5 inches (4.5 to 6.4 cm), a fantastic sight in flight.
  • Diet: They primarily feed on nectar from flowers, tree sap, and rotting fruits.
  • Reproduction: During mating season, females lay their eggs on the leaves of their host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults live up to 6 months, a long life compared to other butterfly species.
  • Host Plants: Most commonly, you’ll find their larvae on nettles, primarily stinging nettles (Urtica dioica).

Take a moment, next time you’re in New York, to appreciate the beautiful Red Admiral.

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

Have you ever encountered a ‘Mourning Cloak’? It’s not a garment, but an interesting butterfly species native to New York.

Mourning Cloak butterfly

  • Habitat: The Mourning Cloak enjoys hardwood forests, leafy suburban areas, and city parks.
  • Appearance: Its wings are dark brown. The borders are yellow, and there are blue spots on the edge.
  • Size: This butterfly can reach a width of roughly three to four inches (7.6 to 10.2 centimeters).
  • Diet: It feeds on tree sap, ripe fruit, and only occasionally, flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: The female butterfly lays clusters of eggs on the undersides of leaves.
  • Lifespan: Mourning Cloaks live a full year, which is long for butterflies.
  • Host Plants: These butterflies often use willow, elm, and poplar trees as host plants.

Spotting a Mourning Cloak can be a rewarding experience, so keep your eyes peeled when you’re in their preferred habitats.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

The Painted Lady is one of the widespread butterfly species you may spot in the Empire State.

painted lady butterfly

  • Habitat: Highly adaptable, these butterflies inhabit a wide variety of settings such as fields, gardens, and wetlands.
  • Appearance: The Painted Lady sports an eye-catching mix of orange-brown wings, flecked with black and white spots.
  • Size: Medium-sized species, adults usually have around 2 – 3 inches (5 -7.5 cm) wingspan.
  • Diet: Nectar of a variety of flowers are consumed by Painted Ladies.
  • Reproduction: Females can lay hundreds of eggs, typically on thistles.
  • Lifespan: They have comparatively short lives, averaging 2 weeks once reaching the adult stage.
  • Host Plants: Thistles, mallows, and legumes are favored by the Painted Lady as host plants.

While these butterflies are common, their vivid come-and-go migrations across New York make them an especially fascinating sight.

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

Meet the Spicebush Swallowtail. This butterfly’s name derives from its favored host plant, the spicebush. Perhaps, you will spot this distinctive species fluttering around your garden.

Its beauty is unique and fascinating.

Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: Spicebush Swallowtails are North American natives, you may see them in deciduous woodlands, fields, and even your backyard.
  • Appearance: They bear a striking, dark-colored body with an iridescent blue on their hindwings. Eye spots deter predators.
  • Size: Usually, these butterflies measure between 3-4 inches (76-102mm).
  • Diet: Adults primarily rely on flower nectar. As larvae, they feed on the leaves of spicebush and sassafras trees.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the underside of host plant leaves, these hatch into Caterpillars in the spring.
  • Lifespan: Typically, Spicebush Swallowtails live around a year. Sure, it’s brief, but it’s full of beauty!
  • Host Plants: Spicebush, Sassafras, and Tulip Trees are among their favorites. Their Caterpillars are fussy eaters; they will reject anything else. So, if you’ve got these plants around, welcome to the party!

Enjoy observing these stunning creatures when you can. They are fleeting, just like a spring morning.

Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)

The Eastern Comma is a butterfly species native to North America, commonly found in the New York region. It is a unique species with distinct traits that make it recognizable.

Eastern Comma butterfly

  • Habitat: Can be found in various environments ranging from woods to city gardens.
  • Appearance: Distinguished by its orange and black wings with remarkable patterns. They have a small silver mark on their wings that looks like a comma, lending them their name.
  • Size: The average wingspan of an Eastern Comma ranges between 4.5 and 6.4 centimeters (1.8-2.5 inches).
  • Diet: As adults, they feed primarily on tree sap and rotten fruits. Caterpillars prefer to eat leaves from elm and nettle trees.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singularly on host plants, which later evolve into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: An adult Eastern Comma can live up to 2 weeks on average.
  • Host Plants: Their preferred host plants include American Elm and Stinging Nettle, where the females lay their eggs.

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

The Black Swallowtail, or Papilio polyxenes, is certainly a sight to behold. This native New Yorker is well known for its fascinating life cycle varying between urban and wild habitats.

Black Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: Found in a wide range of environments such as urban landscapes, fields, gardens.
  • Appearance: Recognizable by its striking black wings adorned with two rows of yellow spots. Mature males often have larger spots compared to females.
  • Size: Notably large with a wingspan that can reach up to 4.1 inches (10.4 cm).
  • Diet: Caterpillars feed on various plants in the carrot family, while adults thrive on nectar from a wide array of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the leaves of the host plant.
  • Lifespan: Adults, under favourable conditions, can live up to 2 weeks.
  • Host Plants: They often choose plants in the carrot family like dill, parsley and fennel to lay their eggs.

Voyaging through the life of a Black Swallowtail is an enchanting experience.

Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas)

The Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly is a delicate and intriguing specie native to New York.

Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: They primarily reside in open areas, such as fields, meadows, and even backyards.
  • Appearance: This butterfly possesses a distinct bluish-purple tint on the topside of their wings, with a row of dots on their underside. They also have two tiny tails on their hind wings.
  • Size: Eastern Tailed-Blue butterflies are quite small, measuring roughly 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in wingspan.
  • Diet: They prefer to sip on nectar from various flowers, especially those of leguminous plants.
  • Reproduction: Females deposit light green eggs on the buds of host plants, and the caterpillars that emerge feed on these plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live around 10 to 12 days.
  • Host Plants: Leguminous plants are favorite host plants, where their larvae feed and grow.

Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis)

The Common Checkered-Skipper is among the vibrant butterfly species you can spot in New York.

Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis)

  • Habitat: These butterflies call open, sunny areas home. This includes gardens, old fields, and roadsides.
  • Appearance: Their wings display a checkered, black and white pattern, giving them their name.
  • Size: Their size is fairly small, with a wingspan ranging from 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm).
  • Diet: These skippers feed primarily on nectar from a variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs single-handedly on the host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: They have a short lifespan, ranging from a few weeks to a couple of months.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars feed on plants from the mallow family, including hollyhock and checkerbloom.

These butterflies are adaptable and can be seen fluttering around in many of your favorite outdoor spaces. Their distinctive patterns make them a joy to observe.

Next time you step out, keep an eye out for these beautiful creatures.

Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus)

The Great Purple Hairstreak is a marvel to behold, known widely for its stunning blue and orange colors. This butterfly is truly a gem in the ecosystem of New York.

Great Purple Hairstreak - Atlides halesus

  • Habitat: Mostly found in forests, woodlands, and fields where its host plants grow.
  • Appearance: It’s strikingly beautiful. Comprises blue and orange colors on its wings, two long tails, and red eyespots on the hind wings.
  • Size: A medium-sized butterfly, with a wingspan of 1.5 to 2 inches (38 millimeters — 51 millimeters).
  • Diet: The adults feed on nectar from flowers, while the caterpillars eat the leaves of mistletoe plants.
  • Reproduction: The females lay tiny, pale green eggs on the host plants. The eggs hatch into caterpillars in about a week.
  • Lifespan: Adult Great Purple Hairstreak live for approximately one to two weeks.
  • Host Plants: Depend on mistletoe for the development of their early stages. It’s the sole source of food for their caterpillars.

At first glance, the Great Purple Hairstreak might be mistaken for a jeweled brooch pinned on a gentle plant. It’s indeed a living, breathing spectacle.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Monarchs are considered royalty among butterflies. These creatures, coated in orange and black, are nothing short of regal.


  • Habitat: Over summer, find them around meadows, fields, and gardens throughout New York.
  • Appearance: Identified by upper wings that are orange with black edges and white spots, while underneath, they’re shaded lighter, appearing almost caramel colored.
  • Size: A Monarch’s wingspan ranges between 3.7-4.1 inches (9.4-10.4 cm).
  • Diet: Adult Monarchs sip the nectar from a variety of flowers, favoring milkweed.
  • Reproduction: Each year, up to four generations of Monarchs are born. Females lay singular eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves.
  • Lifespan: Monarchs can live up to 9 months, although most only live several weeks.
  • Host Plants: Primarily, the Monarch lays eggs on Milkweed, the caterpillar’s sole source of nourishment. This unique diet protects them from predators, as the toxins in milkweed make the caterpillars taste bad.

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

The Gulf Fritillary is a delightful addition among the butterfly species visible in New York.

gulf fritillary

  • Habitat: It predominantly exists in various environments, including fields, parks, and gardens.
  • Appearance: This unique creature is bright orange with black markings, while its wings beneath are spangled with shiny silver spots.
  • Size: Adult Gulf Fritillaries range in size from 2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.35 to 8.89 cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies mainly feed on nectar from various flowers. At the larval stage, they consume leaves.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on host plants, which then develop into vibrant caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: The adult lifespan typically spans a few weeks, experiencing four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
  • Host Plants: Passion vines are their primary host plants, particularly crucial for their caterpillars.

A noteworthy element of New York’s butterfly population, Gulf Fritillaries bring unique fluttering charm to the outdoors.

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

The Viceroy is an intriguing butterfly species you’ll encounter in the state of New York.


  • Habitat: Viceroy butterflies prefer open spaces like marshes, meadows, and wetlands. They’re also found in deciduous forests where its host plants grow.
  • Appearance: This species has brown wings with black veins, resembling the Monarch but with a distinguishing black horizontal band across its hind wings.
  • Size: The Viceroy is fairly small, measuring between 2.5 and 3.0 inches (6.5 and 7.5 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Viceroys feed mostly on the nectar from flowers and, as caterpillars, feed on willow and poplar leaves.
  • Reproduction: Courting starts in the afternoon with the female laying eggs on the tip of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: The life expectancy ranges from 2 weeks to a month.
  • Host Plants: Viceroys prefer using poplars and willows as their host plants, where they lay their eggs and provide food for their larvae.

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

As you stroll around your neighborhood in New York, you’re likely to come across the photogenic Zebra Swallowtail.

Zebra Swallowtail butterfly

Feast your eyes on its unique features:

  • Habitat: This butterfly loves open woodlands, especially near water bodies.
  • Appearance: Remember their name well – their black and white striped wings are unique, resembling a zebra’s coat.
  • Size: They spread their wings wide, reaching up to 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) in length.
  • Diet: Adults nourish themselves on nectar from a variety of flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Despite its beauty, it’s fleeting. Their lifespan averages between 6 weeks to 3 months.
  • Host Plants: Pawpaw trees are their prime choice. It’s where they lay their eggs.

Getting to know the Zebra Swallowtail a bit more might compel you to protect and appreciate them in their brief but vibrant lives.

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

You certainly won’t miss a Giant Swallowtail flitting past in all its grandeur. This majestic butterfly could easily captivate you with its immense size and striking marked wings.

giant swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly species thrives in various settings, from forests to citrus orchards. Even though they prefer warm and tropical climates, they’re found in both rural and urban areas.
  • Appearance: Their wings showcase a standout dark brown-black color, complemented by yellow bands, dots, and an eye-catching yellow ‘tail’.
  • Size: Astoundingly, they span up to 5 inches (12.7 cm), making them the largest butterfly species found in North America.
  • Diet: In their caterpillar stage, they feed on the leaves of their host plants. As adults, they drink nectar from various types of wintergreen flowers, such as lantanas.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on host plants, usually on the underside of leaves to protect them.
  • Lifespan: Adult Giant Swallowtails live approximately one month.
  • Host Plants: They love rutaceous plant species, including citrus trees like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits.

Silver-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene)

The Silver-bordered Fritillary – its scientific name, Boloria selene – is one of the butterfly species that inhabit New York.

Silver-bordered Fritillary butterfly

Let’s take a closer look at this particular species:

  • Habitat: You’ll find these butterflies in wet surroundings such as marshes, fens, or damp meadows.
  • Appearance: Look for orange wings with black spots on the upperside and silver spots on the underside, from which it gets its name.
  • Size: Rather small, their wingspan ranges from 1.4 to 2.4 inches (35 to 61 millimeters).
  • Diet: Like most butterflies, they feed on nectar, primarily from violets and dandelions.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs singly under the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Their short life cycle usually lasts up to two weeks, peaking in late spring and late summer.
  • Host Plants: Violets are their preferred hosts, both as food for caterpillar larvae and as nectar sources for adults.

Isn’t it fascinating to discover the life cycle and habitats of such delicate creatures?

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

The American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) is a marvelously decorated butterfly, notable for its diverse aesthetic and remarkable life cycle.

American Lady butterfly

  • Habitat: This species can be spotted in various habitats, but it prefers open spaces or meadows near water reserves.
  • Appearance: Observe the beauty of their red-orange, white, and black patterned wings. Underneath, you’ll find a jigsaw of colours and spotted patterns.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 1.8 – 2.8 inches (approximately 4.5 – 7 cm), they are a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Flowers, especially those of the Asteraceae family, are their primary nectar source.
  • Reproduction: The female butterfly lays eggs on the host plant, which then mature into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: The American lady has a lifespan of approximately 2 weeks in their butterfly stage.
  • Host Plants: Predominantly, the larvae feed on the plants from the Asteraceae family. Upon reaching the right maturity, they form a chrysalis before transforming into the adult butterfly you often see in gardens.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

Also known as the small white, the cabbage white (Pieris rapae) is a common butterfly sight in New York.

Cabbage White butterfly

Let’s get to know it some more:

  • Habitat: Cabbage Whites are found in open areas like gardens, fields, and roadsides.
  • Appearance: They exhibit white to creamy white wings with black spots.
  • Size: These butterflies are of moderate size, with wingspans averaging between 1.3 – 2.2 inches (3.3 – 5.5 cm).
  • Diet: Adult cabbage whites feed on nectar from a variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single, yellow-colored eggs on host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: A cabbage white’s lifespan in the wild can be short, often 2 weeks or less.
  • Host Plants: They prefer cultivated brassicas; cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are favorites.

Through their current ubiquity, Cabbage Whites provide a window into the natural world and demonstrate the impacts of human activity on wildlife.

They’re a treasure to observe and can constitute a gateway to a broader interest in nature.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

For those who remember their grandmother’s garden, you’ll likely recall the Silver-spotted Skipper. With its quick, darting flight and silver splash on the hindwings, it leaves an impression.

These common butterflies love gardens and waste areas where they have space to forage.

Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly

  • Habitat: If you’re looking for them, they can often be seen in sunny, open places with little competition for flowers.
  • Appearance: They’re hard to miss, sporting dark-brown wings with a bright, silver-white spot.
  • Size: At full maturity, they have 1.75-2.5 inches (4.5-6.4cm) wingspan.
  • Diet: In remembrance of Grandma’s garden, they definitely favor the nectar from shrubby plants like honeysuckle.
  • Reproduction: Typically, the females lay single eggs on leaves near the host plant.
  • Lifespan: Shockingly, they only live about a week in the wild.
  • Host Plants: Humans can make their habitats more inviting by growing legumes, which serve as their host plants.

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Behold, the Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus), one of the most common hairstreaks in North America.

Gray Hairstreak butterfly

  • Habitat: You’ll find this species in a variety of habitats like gardens, fields, and meadows.
  • Appearance: It sports a unique gray color with orange spots near the tail. But what separates it is fine hair-like scales that look like extensions of the hind wings.
  • Size: It’s quite dainty with a wingspan ranging from 1 to 1.3 inches (25 to 33 mm). Small but visually pleasing.
  • Diet: Adults are seen nectaring on milkweed and mint, amongst others. They seem to have a varied palette.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on the host plant. The hatched caterpillars feed on the buds and flowers. Quite interesting.
  • Lifespan: They have multiple generations per year and adults live for around a week or two. Pretty short-lived.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars feed on a large variety of plants including cotton, beans, and clover.

Surprisingly versatile for such a small creature. Hope you found it engaging.

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

The Red-spotted Purple, also known as Limenitis arthemis, is a marvel among butterfly species in New York.

Red-spotted Purple butterfly

Here’s a snapshot of what makes this butterfly special:

  • Habitat: They frequent sunny open spaces in forested areas and parks.
  • Appearance: This butterfly sports a unique, coloration, embodying shades of black with eye-catching blue or purple tones and red spots on its wings.
  • Size: Normally, the Red-spotted Purple’s wingspan ranges from 2.5 to 4 inches (6.3cm to 10.2cm)
  • Diet: Adults feed on rotting fruit or tree sap, while caterpillars prefer leaves.
  • Reproduction: Females lay round, green eggs on host plants after mating.
  • Lifespan: These butterflies live for about one month as adults.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars feed predominantly on a range of tree species including wild cherry, birch, willow, and poplar.

Witnessing the Red-spotted Purple in nature is a reminder of the intricate diversity among New York’s butterfly family.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

The Common Buckeye, scientifically named Junonia coenia, is a captivating butterfly species that’s quite prevalent in New York.

Common Buckeye butterfly

  • Habitat: They flourish predominantly in sunny, open areas like fields or meadows.
  • Appearance: This species boasts a beautiful combination of brown, orange, and cream-colored wings adorned with eye-like markings to confound would-be predators.
  • Size: Adult Buckeyes average at around 2 to 2.8 inches (5cm to 7cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: These butterflies feed primarily on nectar from a variety of flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single, green eggs on the buds of host plants.
  • Lifespan: The Common Buckeye averages a short life span of about two weeks.
  • Host Plants: Larvae of the Buckeye species favor plantains, snapdragons, and some species of verbena as host plants.

Marvel at these intriguing creatures the next time you’re in an open field in New York.

‘Astyanax‘ Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax)

The ‘Astyanax’ Red-spotted Purple is a captivating butterfly species.

‘Astyanax’ Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax)

This is what you should know about it:

  • Habitat: They are commonly found in a variety of environments, including deciduous woodlands, parks, and suburbia.
  • Appearance: Their upper wings are a glossy dark brown-black with a row of submarginal red spots. Underneath, they have bright red spots enclosed in an iridescent blue band.
  • Size: Adults usually reach sizes between 3 to 3.5 inches (7.5 to 9 cm).
  • Diet: Adults are known to feed on animal droppings, sap flows, fermenting fruit, and occasionally, flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: Mating sometimes extends to the next morning. After mating, females lay single green eggs on the upper side of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults have a lifespan of around one month, but as a chrysalis, they could overwinter and emerge in spring.
  • Host Plants: The most common host plants are Poplars, Cottonwood, Aspens, and Willows.

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

The Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) is a typical sight during spring in New York.

Spring Azure butterfly

Here are some intriguing facts about this species:

  • Habitat: Spring Azures settle primarily in open woods and field margins.
  • Appearance: These butterflies exhibit a lovely azure blue color with darker edges on their upper wings.
  • Size: You’ll find these butterflies spanning between 0.75 to 1.25 inches (19 to 32 mm).
  • Diet: Their diet primarily comprises nectar from flowers and the honeydew produced by aphids.
  • Reproduction: Spring Azures undergo a single brood cycle from mid-March to June.
  • Lifespan: Adult Spring Azures typically live for 10 to 20 days.
  • Host Plants: They lay their eggs on a range of plants, including dogwood, blueberry, and meadowsweet.

With its rich blue color, the Spring Azure adds a splash of beauty to the New York butterfly scene. Catching a glimpse of one fluttering by is always a delight.

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

The Question Mark is a distinct butterfly species that you can encounter while exploring New York.

Question Mark butterfly

  • Habitat: These amazing creatures prefer woodland edges, city parks, and open fields with flowering plants. They are also fond of overripe fruit and tree sap.
  • Appearance: They are well-known for the unique silver mark on their underwing, resembling a question mark, hence the name. Their upper wings exhibit summer and winter morphs, often light orange for summer and dark orange for winter.
  • Size: On average, the Question Mark butterfly has wingspans ranging from 2.25 to 3 inches (5.7 to 7.6 centimeters).
  • Diet: They feed on nectar from flowers including milkweed and aster. They also derive nutrients from decaying fruit and tree sap.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the underside of host plants. The larvae, which are spiny and black, are solitary feeders.
  • Lifespan: Adults can live for up to two years, possibly the longest lifespan among butterflies.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars consume a variety of plants, with preference for elms, nettles, and hackberries.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, scientifically known as Papilio glaucus, is truly a sight to behold. This species demands your attention with its beautiful appearance and behavior.

eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: It thrives in various settings but mainly in deciduous broadleaf woods, forest edges, and towns.
  • Appearance: Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtails display yellow wings with four black tiger-like stripes. Females might either show similar patterns to males or be dark blue instead of yellow.
  • Size: On average, they range between 3-6 inches (7.5-15.2 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: As adults, they sip on nectar from different flowers whereas during their caterpillar stage, they munch on leaves of selected trees.
  • Reproduction: Females lay round, greenish eggs on leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: These butterflies enjoy a typical adult lifespan of 6-14 days.
  • Host Plants: They favor hosts such as tulip tree, wild cherry, and willow.

Watch out for these mesmerizing creatures next time you wander into their habitat regions.

White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis arthemis)

The White Admiral is a unique specimen of the butterfly species found in New York. Known for its easily recognizable appearance, it’s one butterfly that you would love to spot!

White Admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: White Admirals are usually found in wooded areas and forests, appreciating cool, shady corners during hot summer days.
  • Appearance: They stand out with their distinctive black and white pattern. The upper side of their wings has a wide, white band contrasting with a vivid black base.
  • Size: White Admirals range in size from 2.75 – 3 inches (70 – 76 mm), showcasing an impressive wingspan.
  • Diet: Nectar-seeking butterflies, they commonly feed on flowers from milkweed, vibernum, dogbane, and others.
  • Reproduction: Females typically lay a single egg on the host plant’s leaves, where caterpillars grow to pupate.
  • Lifespan: Their average lifespan is around two weeks.
  • Host Plants: The most common host plant is the willow, but sometimes they also choose poplar and birch trees.


It’s clear to see that New York presents a wonderful array of butterfly species, each unique in their fascinating ways.

This richness in biodiversity is what makes outdoor exploration in New York truly exceptional.

Feel free to leave a comment below with your personal experiences or observations of these extraordinary creatures.

Butterflies   Updated: August 12, 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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