30 Butterfly Species in Ohio

Ohio is home to a dazzling array of butterfly species, each with its unique characteristics and charm.

In this article, we will take a journey through the realm of 30 distinct butterfly species that color the Ohio skies.

From the elegant Spicebush Swallowtail to the majestic Giant Swallowtail, you’ll discover a multitude of winged beauties waiting to be explored.

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

The Spicebush Swallowtail, or Papilio troilus, is an eye-catching butterfly species found in Ohio. Known for its dazzling appearance, it’s an integral part of the state’s diverse ecosystem.

Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: Prefers deciduous woodlands and forests. Also found in overgrown fields and marshes.
  • Appearance: Dorsal side is black with pale, green-blue accents. Females have a brighter blue hue.
  • Size: Wingspan ranges from 3.5 to 4.5 inches (8.9 to 11.4 centimeters).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on nectar from various flowers. Larvae eat spicebush leaves.
  • Reproduction: Females lay round, green eggs on the underside of spicebush leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for roughly a month, whereas caterpillars spend around a year in the chrysalis stage.
  • Host Plants: Primarily spicebush and sassafras. Also feeds on sweetbay, red bay, and tulip trees.

A silent steward of the environment, the Spicebush Swallowtail continues to enchant spectators with its stunning beauty.

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

The Great Spangled Fritillary, scientifically known as Speyeria cybele, is a bright spectacle in the Ohio butterfly population.

Great Spangled Fritillary

  • Habitat: These butterflies are aplenty in sunny areas like meadows, fields, and gardens.
  • Appearance: Marked by large orange wings decked with black or brown spots, their underwings sport silvery scales.
  • Size: They standout with a wingspan of about 3-4 inches (approximately 7.5-10 cm).
  • Diet: Adults mainly feed on the nectar of various flowers like milkweed and thistles.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on or near violets, the larvae feed on after hatching.
  • Lifespan: Their adult life is about a month, spanning the summer, from June to September.
  • Host Plants: Violets are the primary host plants for the Great Spangled Fritillary caterpillars.

This butterfly species brings a unique blend of beauty and intrigue to Ohio’s rich biodiversity. Enjoy their existence while leaving their habitats untouched.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

This spectacular butterfly is instantly recognizable.

eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly

Let’s go through its characteristics:

  • Habitat: Primarily you’ll find these in deciduous broadleaved woods, forest edges, and clearings.
  • Appearance: The upper surface of male’s forewings is black with bold yellow stripes. Females can be either black or yellow.
  • Size: With a wingspan of 3.1 to 5.5 inches (8 – 14 cm), they are one of the larger butterflies in Ohio.
  • Diet: Adults sip nectar from a variety of plants, whilst the caterpillar dines on leaves.
  • Reproduction: Females lay spherical green eggs, which become stunning green caterpillars with large blue eyespots near the head.
  • Lifespan: This butterfly has a relatively short lifespan, from egg to death as an adult ranges from 6 – 14 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Some of their preferred host plants are Wild Cherry, Willow, and Tulip Tree.

American Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

Welcome to the magical world of the American Copper or Lycaena phlaeas. This butterfly species is indeed a sight to behold.

American Copper butterfly

  • Habitat: It thrives in a range of environments like alpine meadows, tundras, and even open woodlands.
  • Appearance: You can spot them by their vibrant orange wings adorned with dark brown spots. On the other hand, the underside of their wings showcases a complex pattern in grayish-brown hue.
  • Size: These compact creatures measure to an average wingspan of 1-1.5 inches (approximately 2.54-3.81 cm).
  • Diet: Adult American Coppers survive mainly on nectar. They have a particular fondness for milkweed, daisies, and clover flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their tiny green eggs individually on the leaves of the host plant.
  • Lifespan: Their life cycle from egg to butterfly takes up only three weeks.
  • Host Plants: In their caterpillar stage, they feed almost strictly on dock or sorrel. This nutritional start gives them the energy for the magical transformation from caterpillar to butterfly.

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

An encounter with the Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) is always a treat. This early spring butterfly is a common sight throughout the Buckeye State.

Spring Azure butterfly

  • Habitat: Found in a range of environments, from woodlands to grasslands, and even backyards.
  • Appearance: Males are light blue, while females sport bluish-white wings. Both sexes have delicate black borders on their wings.
  • Size: Modest, with a wingspan around 0.75 to 1.25 inches (1.9 to 3.2 centimeters).
  • Diet: Adults sip nectar from flowers, while larvae feed on flower buds.
  • Reproduction: After mating, females lay eggs on flower buds where the larvae can immediately begin feeding.
  • Lifespan: The total lifespan is about a year, with adults living for around one week.
  • Host Plants: The young feed on a variety of plants, including Dogwood, New Jersey Tea, and Blueberry.

The Spring Azure marks the beginning of warmer days in Ohio, a small but cherished sign of the arrival of spring.

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

The Red-spotted Purple butterfly is a spectacular sight you might encounter in Ohio.

Red-spotted Purple butterfly

  • Habitat: These butterflies can be found in deciduous or mixed woods and nearby fields.
  • Appearance: This species stands out for its amazing deep blue color, accented with black, white and red spots.
  • Size: Medium-sized, they typically range from 3 to 3.5 inches (7.6 to 8.9 centimeters) in wingspan.
  • Diet: They feed on tree sap, rotting fruit, carrion, dung, and occasionally nectar from small white flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay green, spherical eggs singly on host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: The Red-spotted Purple butterfly has a life span of approximately 2 weeks in the wild.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars feed on a variety of trees including willow, cherry, poplar, hawthorn, black oak, and aspen.

With its stunning colors and patterns, the Red-spotted Purple butterfly is truly a gem of Ohio’s natural beauty.

Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)

The Eastern Comma is a North American butterfly notable for its distinguishing ‘comma’ outline.

Eastern Comma butterfly

  • Habitat: This species enjoys a wide range of wooded habitats, including forests, parks, and urban landscapes.
  • Appearance: This butterfly is known for its distinctive orange and black wing design. A silver, comma-shaped mark on the underside of its wings is a unique identifier.
  • Size: The Eastern Comma is medium in size, with a wingspan averaging between 1.8 to 2.9 inches (45-75mm).
  • Diet: Adult Eastern Commas feed on tree sap, rotting fruit, and occasionally flower nectar. They also show a fondness for overripe fruit.
  • Reproduction: Females will lay singular eggs, usually on the underside of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan usually extends from spring to fall.
  • Host Plants: The Eastern Comma mainly feeds on the Elm Tree and other members of the Ulmaceae family.

Besides, this species is often mistaken for the Question Mark butterfly due to strikingly similar wing patterns.

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

The Mourning Cloak, scientifically known as Nymphalis antiopa, is an impressive butterfly species, worthy of closer inspection.

Mourning Cloak butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly prefers woodland edges, parks and gardens. It’s also common to find them around tree sap flows.
  • Appearance: Distinguished by its maroon or dark brown wings outlined with a cream-colored border. The underside is cryptically colored.
  • Size: With an impressive wingspan, it measures between 2.25 to 4 inches (5.7 to 10.16 cm).
  • Diet: Mostly feeds on tree sap, especially that from oaks. They are also attracted to rotting fruit and occasionally sip nectar.
  • Reproduction: Female Mourning Cloaks lay clusters of eggs on twigs or tree bark. The larvae live communally in a web.
  • Lifespan: Tends to live longer than other butterfly species – often up to 11 to 12 months.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed on various species of willow, poplar, and elm.

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

Let’s talk about the Zebra Swallowtail, a butterfly species that often leaves observers awestruck. Catching sight of this species is an enchanting experience.

They’re largely found in Ohio which is dotted with Pawpaw trees, their favorite.

Zebra Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: Found primarily in moist, lowland regions and swamplands.
  • Appearance: The wing design is unmistakable with its black and white zebra-like stripes. The hind wings have long, distinctive tails.
  • Size: Wingspan ranges from 2.5 to 4 inches (6.5 to 10 cm) wide.
  • Diet: Mainly feeds on nectar from various types of flowers. Zebra Swallowtail caterpillars feed exclusively on young pawpaw leaves.
  • Reproduction: Each female lays about 300 eggs singularly on the pawpaw leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about a month, with two generations being brought up each year.
  • Host Plants: Pawpaw tree is the primary host plant for the larvae.

Easily identifiable, their erratic, swift flight patterns make them a joy to watch. They certainly add to the butterfly charm of Ohio.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

The Painted Lady is a common visitor in Ohio. This butterfly species is unique because it migrates, allowing it to spread across different regions.

painted lady butterfly

  • Habitat: You can spot the Painted Lady in meadows, gardens, or disturbed sites.
  • Appearance: This striking butterfly boasts vibrant orange wings, covered with black and white spots – a spectacle to see!
  • Size: With a wingspan of 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm), it’s a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Nectar from diversified flowers makes up their diet. Occasionally, they’ll feed on aphid honeydew.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the upper leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: They usually live for 2-4 weeks, with the migrating generation living up to 7-8 months.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed on a variety of plant species, including thistles, mallows, and legumes.

The Painted Lady adds a splash of color to Ohio’s ecosystem and is a delight to observe.

Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton)

Known for its serenity and beauty, the Tawny Emperor is quite the spectacle. This butterfly species is prevalent in Ohio, being beloved by locals and visitors alike.

Tawny Emperor butterfly

  • Habitat: Typically dwelling in urban parks, woodland edges, and abandoned fields.
  • Appearance: Exhibits a range of warm, earthy tones. A male has deep-toned, tawny-orange hues whereas a female is slightly more brownish.
  • Size: Generally observed within the range of 2.3 to 3 inches, or around 5.8 to 7.6 centimeters, in terms of wingspan.
  • Diet: An intriguing fact – adults do not feed on flowers but rather tree sap, rotting fruit, and even dung.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs in clusters on the underside of leaves, usually hackberry.
  • Lifespan: Short, spanning about a week as an adult.
  • Host Plants: Primarily, Hackberry trees which are where the females lay their eggs.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

The Monarch, a a truly majestic species, graces Ohio with its presence frequently. Native to North and South America, this butterfly is a welcomed migratory visitor.

Known for their iconic annual voyage to Mexico, these butterflies sure do hitch a ride on the wind.


  • Habitat: Monarchs aren’t picky! They can live in open, sunny fields, roadsides, and even gardens.
  • Appearance: Sporting vibrant orange wings with black outline, the Monarch is truly recognizable. Large, white spots on the wing edges provide an extra flair.
  • Size: Monarchs boast a wingspan of 3.7-4.1 inches (9-10.5cm) making them truly grand.
  • Diet: They mainly feast on nectar from a variety of flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Monarch lays eggs on milkweed plants so their young can feed.
  • Lifespan: The migration generation can live up to 8 months, while others live as short as 2-6 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Monarchs have an affinity for milkweed species, making them vital for their lifecycle.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

You might be familiar with the ‘American Lady,’ also known by its scientific name ‘Vanessa virginiensis.’ This butterfly is relatively common in Ohio and is a delight to observe.

American Lady butterfly

  • Habitat: Predominantly found in open areas such as old fields, gardens, and meadows. Occasionally, they venture into woodlands too.
  • Appearance: Identified by its orange and black color pattern. Unique feature includes two large eye spots on the underside of each hind wing.
  • Size: Roughly 2 – 2.75 inches (5.08 – 6.98 cm) in wingspan, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on the nectar of several flowers such as aster, goldenrod, and others.
  • Reproduction: Females lay green cylindrical eggs singly on the host plant.
  • Lifespan: The butterfly has a lifespan of about two weeks.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars prefer the plants of the Aster family like pearly everlasting, pussytoes, and plantain.

Now, isn’t the American Lady a fascinating creature? It’s undoubtedly one of Ohio’s butterfly treasures.

Aphrodite Fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite)

The Aphrodite Fritillary is a captivating butterfly species that you might encounter in Ohio.

Aphrodite Fritillary butterfly

Let’s learn more about this elegant creature:

  • Habitat: This butterfly thrives predominantly in open woodlands and fields.
  • Appearance: It boasts a delightful mix of orange and black patterns, with silvery spots underscoring the wings.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.3 to 8.8 cm), it’s a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: The adults enjoy nectar from various florets like thistles and milkweeds.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the underside of violet leaves – their caterpillar’s food source.
  • Lifespan: An adult Aphrodite Fritillary usually lives for around one month.
  • Host Plants: Violets are their preferred host plants, and where you’ll often find the caterpillars dining.

In summary, the Aphrodite Fritillary is a remarkable butterfly, adding a vibrant burst of color and grace to Ohio’s landscapes.

White-M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album)

The White-M Hairstreak is a fascinating species.

White-M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album)

Below, we explore the various aspects of this creature’s existence:

  • Habitat: This butterfly prefers deciduous forests, orchards, and fields.
  • Appearance: The dorsal side is blue-black with stunning orange borders. A characteristic white “M” graces its ventral side.
  • Size: Quite petite, the butterfly measures just 1.2 to 1.6 inches (3 to 4 cm).
  • Diet: Adults feed on sap, rotting fruit, and flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: The female lays eggs singularly on oak leaves, a preferred larval food.
  • Lifespan: Short lived, adults typically survive a fortnight subject to conditions.
  • Host Plants: Oak trees, primarily.

This delicate creature contributes to the rich biodiversity in Ohio, making every sighting a one to treasure.

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

The Gulf Fritillary is a vibrant breed, easily recognized.

gulf fritillary

  • Habitat: Prefers tropical and subtropical regions. They frequently inhabit open, sunny areas such as pastures, roadsides, and gardens.
  • Appearance: Boasts a bright orange color. Black and white spots decorate the large, elongated wings giving them a striking appearance.
  • Size: Fairly large, with a wingspan ranging between 2.4 to 3.7 inches (6 to 9.5 cm).
  • Diet: Primarily feeds on nectar from flowers. The caterpillars of this species feed on the leaves of passionvines.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on host plants. These hatch into caterpillars, then eventually form a chrysalis before emerging as adults.
  • Lifespan: Adults live only for a few weeks, but in their caterpillar stage, they can survive up to several months.
  • Host Plants: Passionvines are the main host plant for Gulf Fritillary, providing food for caterpillars and a place to lay eggs.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

If you’re into butterfly spotting, you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for the Silver-spotted Skipper. It’s a fascinating member of the butterfly world, with several unique traits.

Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly can be found in a variety of locations, though it’s particularly fond of disturbed areas like roadsides and gardens.
  • Appearance: It’s most notable for the single silver spot on the underside of each of its hind wings.
  • Size: The Silver-spotted Skipper measures around 2 inches (approximately 5 cm) in length.
  • Diet: It primarily feeds on nectar from flowers such as the purple coneflower.
  • Reproduction: In the caterpillar stage, Silver-spotted Skippers create a sort of leafy shelter, in which they live while they transform into butterflies.
  • Lifespan: It can live up to 10–12 days as an adult.
  • Host Plants: Its favorite host plants are various species of locust and false indigo.

Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus)

The Great Purple Hairstreak is one captivating butterfly species you might come across in Ohio.

Fascinatingly beautiful, it can transform a simple garden visit into an enthralling encounter with nature.

Great purple hairstreak

Let’s check out what makes this butterfly stand out:

  • Habitat: Found in a variety of habitats including forests, fields, and gardens.
  • Appearance: Identified by its deep blue body, striking purple-and-blue scaled wings, and two tail-like extensions.
  • Size: Small in size, with a wingspan around 1.5 – 2 inches (approximately 3.8 – 5 cm).
  • Diet: Their primary diet consists of nectar from a variety of plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay light green eggs on the host plant singly.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan spans typically 3 weeks, making the most of the warm summer days.
  • Host Plants: Its caterpillars thrive on mistletoe plants, especially from the Phoradendron species.

Remember, whenever you spot this butterfly, you are actually witnessing a small piece of Ohio’s rich biodiversity.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

The Cabbage White is a common visitor in Ohio’s yards and gardens. Native to Europe, but now found universally, it’s a delight to see and simple to identify.

Cabbage White butterfly

  • Habitat: This species thrives in a variety of environments including suburban areas, gardens, and open fields.
  • Appearance: Cabbage Whites have white wings with black tips on the forewings. Their underwings are yellowish-greenish with faint black spots.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 1.5 to 2.25 inches (3.8 to 5.7 cm), they’re pretty easy to spot.
  • Diet: Nectaring on a wide range of flowers, they’re often found in blossoming gardens.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single, yellowish eggs on the leaf underside of host plants.
  • Lifespan: The lifespan is about 2 weeks in their butterfly stage.
  • Host Plants: Favorite larval host plants include cabbage, kale, broccoli, and other crucifers.

Do look out for these delicate creatures the next time you’re in Ohio’s outdoors.

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)

The American Snout is a unique butterfly species prevalent in Ohio. Its name hails from its snout-like elongated labial palps.

American Snout butterfly

  • Habitat: They’re adaptable species inhabiting diverse biomes ranging from wooded areas, fields to roadsides.
  • Appearance: It possesses a muted brown and orange underwing, with a distinct snout-like structure.
  • Size: Their wing spans range from 1.5-2 inches (3.81-5.08 cm).
  • Diet: Preferably they feed on nectar from a range of flowering plants including dogbane and goldenrod.
  • Reproduction: Similar to most butterflies, they lay eggs on host plants and undergo a metamorphosis cycle.
  • Lifespan: It’s difficult to pin down their exact lifespan, however, it is believed to be a couple of weeks in butterfly stage.
  • Host Plants: The Hackberry tree is crucial for their survival, as they utilize the leaves for their larvae.

Their unique features and adaptability make them a fascinating addition to Ohio’s lepidopterological roster.

Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas)

The Eastern Tailed-Blue, known scientifically as Cupido comyntas, is a common and delightful butterfly to spot in Ohio.

Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: Mostly found in open areas such as fields, parks, and gardens near pea and bean plants, as they serve as the caterpillar’s host plant.
  • Appearance: With a strikingly blue upper wing surface for males and brown-gray for females, the Eastern Tailed-Blue is known for its small tail-like extensions on the hind wings.
  • Size: Small yet visible, they typically have a wingspan of about an inch (2.5cm).
  • Diet: As adults, they seem to prefer nectar from many types of flowers, including dandelions and sunflowers.
  • Reproduction: Mating is observed mostly after midday, where females lay pale green eggs on flower buds.
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies usually live for approximately two weeks.
  • Host Plants: They have many host plants, but legumes are their preferred choice, especially those in the pea and bean families.

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

The Black Swallowtail, also known as Papilio polyxenes, is a distinctive butterfly that you can find in Ohio.

Black Swallowtail butterfly

Here are some important facets to this fascinating insect:

  • Habitat: These butterflies prefer diverse environments – from open fields to suburban gardens.
  • Appearance: They boast captivating black wings with a row of yellow spots. Males have a yellow band at the edges, while females exhibit an iridescent blue band.
  • Size: Their wingspan extends between 3.1 and 4.3 inches (8-11 cm).
  • Diet: As caterpillars, they munch on the leaves of host plants. Adult black swallowtails feed on the nectar of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay spherical, greenish-white eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: An adult Black Swallowtail can live up to two months.
  • Host Plants: They prefer plants like dill, parsley, and carrot.

Black Swallowtails are a marvel to watch. Next time you’re in Ohio, be sure to look out for this stunning species!

Queen (Danaus gilippus)

This butterfly species, similar to the Monarch, is resistant to toxins obtained from their diet, warding off predators.

Queen Butterfly

  • Habitat: Prefers open and sunny areas with milkweed abundance, including fields, meadows, and deserts.
  • Appearance: Mostly dark brown with hints of white and orange patterns on the wings. Spots of white occur along the borders.
  • Size: Moderate, with a wingspan ranging from 70-88 mm (2.75-3.5 in).
  • Diet: Adult Queens feed on nectar from flowers, while the larvae often consume various species of milkweed.
  • Reproduction: Lays single eggs on milkweed plants where the larvae then feed.
  • Lifespan: The Queen butterfly can live up to several weeks.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars primarily rely on milkweed, but can also use plants in the dogbane family.

The Queen butterfly is a key species to promote biodiversity and towards the maintenance of healthy ecosystems. Enjoy the sight, but remember not to disrupt their natural behaviors.

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

Often perched in the open, the Orange Sulphur butterfly is a delightful sight.

Orange Sulphur butterfly

With typically occurring in warm open fields, here are few key characteristics:

  • Habitat: They favor open spaces like fields and meadows. They can also be spotted in gardens and roadsides.
  • Appearance: Recognizable by their bright orange wings with black borders and silver spots on the underside.
  • Size: They average about 1.5 to 2.5 inches (3.8 to 6.4 cm) in wingspan, making them a moderate-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Adult Orange Sulphur butterflies feed on flower nectar, while caterpillars eat the leaves of plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on host plants. The caterpillars that hatch feed on these plants.
  • Lifespan: They usually live up to 1 month.
  • Host Plants: Alfalfa, white clover, and other leguminous plants are favored by this species.

Keep an eye out for these creatures next time you’re out in nature. They’re quite a sight!

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

The Gray Hairstreak is one of the most common butterfly species in Ohio. With its distinct characteristics, it easily stands out from the crowd.

Gray Hairstreak butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly is highly adaptable. It can often be seen in fields, gardens, and farmlands.
  • Appearance: The Gray Hairstreak features striking blue spots and orange eyespots on the undersides of its gray wings.
  • Size: This small butterfly ranges between 1.0 – 1.5 inches (2.5 – 3.8 centimeters) in width, making it quite easily noticeable.
  • Diet: The Gray Hairstreak feeds on the nectar from a wide array of flowers, favoring the milkweed and mint species.
  • Reproduction: The female lays eggs singly on the flower buds of host plants.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of these butterflies is one month, during which they live, feed, and reproduce.
  • Host Plants: The Gray Hairstreak butterfly’s caterpillar feeds on different plants like cotton, mallow, beans, or clover, among others. Each stage of its life has a different host plant preference.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

The Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) is a common sight in Ohio.

red-admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: Typically found in damp wooded areas, parks, and backyards.
  • Appearance: Striking with their dark wings, orange bands, and white spots.
  • Size: Impressive in their size, with a wingspan ranging from 1.75 to 3 inches (4.4 to 7.6 cm).
  • Diet: Enjoys nectar from various flowers, rotting fruit, and tree sap.
  • Reproduction: Females lay green cylindrical eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for 2 weeks to a month.
  • Host Plants: Red Admirals favor stinging nettles and false nettles, using them for their offspring’s food source.

As you take walks on a sunny day, keep your eyes open for this relatively large, and impressively decorated butterfly.

Even with their notable markings, spotting one of them can feel like a small win for the day.

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

The Viceroy butterfly is an intriguing species to explore.


  • Habitat: You’ll find them in wetlands, such as marshes and swamps, throughout Ohio.
  • Appearance: They’re known for their striking orange and black patterns, akin to the Monarch butterfly, although they have a thin black line crossing their hindwings.
  • Size: Adults typically span between 2.5 to 3 inches (6.3 to 7.5 cm), making them relatively average in size.
  • Diet: As larva, they preference willow and poplar leaves, while adults feast on nectar from various flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Viceroy butterflies lay pale-green eggs singly on the tops of host plant leaves, which develop into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Adult Viceroys usually live for about two weeks, quite standard for many butterfly species.
  • Host Plants: Key species include willow trees (Salix), poplars (Populus), and fruit trees from the Rose family (Rosaceae).

Take some time to appreciate these mimicry maestros next time you’re in Ohio!

White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis arthemis)

The White Admiral is an exceptional species of butterfly predominantly found in mixed forests around Ohio. Adorned with striking black and white bandings, it certainly is a pretty sight.

White Admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: Generally resides in deciduous and mixed forests, open woodlands, and alongside streams.
  • Appearance: Adult butterflies present a captivating contrast of black wings with a broad white band running through the center.
  • Size: With an average wingspan ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.35 to 8.89 cm), they are relatively large butterflies.
  • Diet: Their diet mainly consists of flower nectar, tree sap, and sometimes rotting fruit.
  • Reproduction: They lay their eggs singly on leaves of host plants where the caterpillars feed when hatched.
  • Lifespan: White Admirals usually live for about two weeks, however, if the conditions are right, they can hibernate and live longer.
  • Host Plants: They prefer to lay their eggs on birch and willow trees.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Consider the Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia), one of Ohio’s most remarkable butterfly species. Highly renowned for its stunning beauty, it is truly a sight to behold.

Common Buckeye butterfly

  • Habitat: They thrive in open, sunny areas with low vegetation and some bare ground.
  • Appearance: Its upper side is brilliantly colored with bands of orange and white spots on the margins of its wings, along with a prominent, gorgeous set of eyespots.
  • Size: Common Buckeyes are medium-sized butterflies, with a wingspan of 1.5 to 2.7 inches (3.8 to 6.8 cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies primarily feed on nectar from a variety of flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs singly on host plants, where the caterpillars feed and grow.
  • Lifespan: They have a relatively short life span, ranging from a few days to a few weeks.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars feed on plants from the snapdragon family, including toadflax and plantain.

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

This is one of the most striking butterflies that grace Ohio’s ecosystem.

giant swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: Giant Swallowtails prefer tropical and subtropical climates, but they can also survive in temperate regions like Ohio.
  • Appearance: The butterfly sports a black and yellow color pattern, with a yellow ‘X’ shape on its back and ornamental tails on its hind wings.
  • Size: This species is effectively the largest in North America, with a wingspan of up to six inches (15.24 cm).
  • Diet: Adult Giant Swallowtails mainly feed on nectar from flowers.
  • Reproduction: After mating, the female will lay her eggs on the leaves of suitable host plants.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan is about a month in the warmer summer months.
  • Host Plants: Giant Swallowtails typically lay their eggs on citrus family plants, as their caterpillars dine primarily on these leaves.

Next time you’re in Ohio, keep an eye out for the majesty of the Giant Swallowtail butterfly fluttering by.


From the stunning Spicebush Swallowtail to the majestic Giant Swallowtail, Ohio is a haven for these remarkable creatures.

The diversity and vibrancy of these 30 butterfly species truly make Ohio a unique and fascinating ecosystem.

Share your thoughts, sightings, or favorite butterfly species in Ohio in the comments below.

Butterflies   Updated: July 27, 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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