30 Butterfly Species in Oklahoma

Dive into the fascinating world of butterflies exclusively found in Oklahoma! From the vibrant Queen Butterfly to the elusive Black Swallowtail, we’re exploring an in-depth look at 30 unique species.

Prepare for an enlightening journey into the delicate and diverse world of Oklahoma’s butterfly population!

Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus)

Frequently found in the wild, the Queen butterfly is a marvel of nature.

Queen Butterfly

Its colors are surely a sight to remember – and here is why:

  • Habitat: It can be found in a variety of environments including open, sunny fields, and deserts.
  • Appearance: Its wings exhibit an orange-brown color, with black borders that contain small white dots.
  • Size: They typically range in size from 2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.35 to 8.89 cm).
  • Diet: Their primary diet consists of nectar from a variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Their life cycle evolves from egg to caterpillar, chrysalis, and then butterfly.
  • Lifespan: Their approximate lifespan ranges from a few weeks to several months, depending on the conditions.
  • Host Plants: They lay their eggs usually on milkweed plants.

In seeing the Queen Butterfly, it is easy to appreciate the intricate details nature has bestowed upon this species.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

  • Habitat: Very adaptable, these butterflies populate both urban and rural areas, including gardens, parklands, and wastelands.
  • Appearance: Eye-catching and vibrant, with delicately painted hues of orange and black, contrasted with white spots on the wings.
  • Size: Quite striking, boasting an impressive wingspan of 2 – 2.8 inches (50 – 70 mm).

painted lady butterfly

  • Diet: Adult Vanessa cardui have a broad diet, consuming nectar from various flowering plants. In contrast, the larvae munch on thistles and asters.
  • Reproduction: Painted Ladies are viviparous, laying eggs and subsequently involving several stages from caterpillar to butterfly.
  • Lifespan: Their life is fleeting, typically only lasting two to four weeks, consequently making each moment precious.
  • Host Plants: Thistles, hollyhock, and malva are certain preferred host plants where female Painted Ladies usually lay their eggs.

California Sister (Adelpha bredowii)

The California Sister is another butterfly species that graces Oklahoma’s spaces.

California Sister butterfly

  • Habitat: Typically found in Oak woodlands, these beings prefer light openings and are often around trees that secrete sweet substances.
  • Appearance: The striking markings on its upper wings are resemblant of a stained glass window. The dark black edges contrast with the white band, while the blue and orange spots add vibrancy.
  • Size: With a wingspan of about 2.8-3.5 inches (7.1–8.9 cm), they are moderately sized butterflies.
  • Diet: The California Sister butterflies feed on tree sap, decaying fruit, and occasionally, flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: During spring, females lay their green eggs singly on the host plant, which then hatch after about 8-10 days.
  • Lifespan: Although their lifespan can vary significantly, it usually lasts for about a month.
  • Host Plants: They have a preference for several types of Oak trees, hence their affinity for Oak woodlands in Oklahoma.

They sure are fascinating butterflies, don’t you think? Now, let’s move onto the next species.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, scientifically known as Papilio glaucus, is a common sight in Oklahoma.

Appreciated for its striking appearance, the species exhibits notable adaptability in its habitat.

eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly is found in various environments, including woodlands, city parks, and backyard gardens.
  • Appearance: Characterized by yellow wings with black tiger-like stripes, male Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are uniquely colourful. However, in some cases, females can have a dark, almost black coloration.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 3.1 to 5.5 inches (80 to 140 mm), it’s considered one of the larger butterfly species in North America.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on nectar from a variety of flowering plants. Caterpillars consume leaves of host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on the leaves of host plants, which hatch into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live for approximately one month during the summer.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars of this species favor plants of the Magnolia and Rose families.

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)

The American Snout, scientifically named as Libytheana carinenta, is a peculiar butterfly that calls Oklahoma its home.

American Snout butterfly

  • Habitat: Favoring open woodlands and thickets, they are also known to explore gardens and road edges trying to find their preferred host plants.
  • Appearance: This species is notable for its prominent, elongated snout-like mouthparts or labial palpi, hence the name ‘American Snout’. Its upper side is brown to orange with dark blotches.
  • Size: They typically have a wingspan of 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm), an equivalent of a small to medium-sized insect.
  • Diet: The adult butterflies, just like other species, feed on nectar from flowers. On the other hand, the caterpillars love munching on leaves of hackberry plants.
  • Reproduction: Like many butterflies, the female American Snout lays her eggs on the host plant’s leaves – the perfect food source for her offsprings.
  • Lifespan: They typically live for a few days to a week, although some have been known to live up to 2 months under favorable conditions.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plants are various hackberry (Celtis) species.

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)

Meet the Zebra Heliconian, Oklahoma’s official state butterfly. No doubt, you would be mesmerized by its distinctive vibrant colors.

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonius)

  • Habitat: It thrives in subtropical environments and damp, marshy areas. You could spot it in south Florida and the southernmost parts of Texas, where it’s warm and humid.
  • Appearance: Each wing showcases a striking black and yellow striped pattern. This beauty is quite a sight!
  • Size: A mature Zebra Heliconian can reach a wingspan of around 3.5 to 4 inches (8.9 to 10.2 cm), it’s not small by any means.
  • Diet: Zebra Heliconians, unlike many butterflies, enjoy pollen besides the standard nectar. This gives them a nutritional edge.
  • Reproduction: In warmer climates, Zebra Heliconians breed all year round. However, in Oklahoma, the breeding season is limited to the warmer months.
  • Lifespan: They have a surprisingly long lifespan of several months due to their pollen diet.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed particularly on the leaves of Passion vines. So, if you are looking to attract them, this plant might be a great addition to your garden.

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

Spring Azure, known scientifically as ‘Celastrina ladon’, is prevalent in Oklahoma. Its vibrant color adds a touch of beauty to the state’s environment every spring.

Spring Azure butterfly

  • Habitat: These butterflies are most commonly found near open woods, valleys, parks, or gardens.
  • Appearance: Spring Azure exhibits a vibrant light blue color, which appears almost gray in a different light.
  • Size: They measure between 0.87-1.1 inches (2.2-2.8 cm), a perfect size for fluttering delicately between flowers.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from various local flowers. As larvae, they prefer a diet of flower buds and unripe fruits.
  • Reproduction: They usually lay their eggs on flower buds, in clusters of more than twenty.
  • Lifespan: Their life cycle from egg to adult typically spans a few months, but adults live for only about one week.
  • Host Plants: Common flower buds and fruits serve as their host plants during their larvae stage.

Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)

The Eastern Comma is one of the exquisite butterfly species you can spot in Oklahoma.

Eastern Comma butterfly

  • Habitat: You can usually find these butterflies in woodlands, orchards, and river valleys.
  • Appearance: The Eastern Comma has orange wings with black spots. Interestingly, the underside of its wings flaunts a silver mark shaped like a comma.
  • Size: The wingspan of this butterfly ranges from 1.8 to 2.8 inches (45 to 70mm).
  • Diet: The Eastern Comma butterfly feeds on tree sap, rotting fruit, and dung.
  • Reproduction: These butterflies produce two generations annually. Their caterpillars are blackish-brown, with rows of multi-branched spines.
  • Lifespan: The adult Eastern Comma butterfly lives for about two weeks.
  • Host Plants: Their favorite host plants include nettles, elms, and hops.

In general, these noteworthy butterflies carry a unique charisma that adds to the biodiversity of Oklahoma.

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

The Pipevine Swallowtail is a unique butterfly species you can find in Oklahoma.

Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly

Here are quick insights to get you acquainted:

  • Habitat: It thrives in forests, fields, and gardens.
  • Appearance: They sport shiny, iridescent-blue wings with a line of white spots. Topsides are black.
  • Size: Adults grow to 3.5-4.5 inches (8.9-11.4 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Caterpillars feed on pipevine, whereas adults feed on nectar of different flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the underside of pipevine leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults live only for two to three weeks.
  • Host Plants: The pipevine plant (Aristolochia species), hence the name.

This butterfly not only brightens up the Oklahoman landscape with its stunning colors but also plays a crucial role in pollination.

Observing the Pipevine Swallowtail is one of the delights of butterfly-watching in Oklahoma.

Eastern tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas)

The Eastern tailed-blue is a common butterfly in Oklahoma. Like other butterflies, it provides an essential role in the ecosystem, such as pollination. It’s small in size but undeniably captivating.

Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: This species thrives in various habitats, including grasslands, fields, and woodland edges.
  • Appearance: A fascinating blue hue on its upper wings. The underwings display delicate patterns of orange, black, and white spots. A small tail extends from the hind wings.
  • Size: It measures from 0.8–1.1 inches (2–2.8 cm). Thus, it’s often mistaken for a moth due to its small size.
  • Diet: Adult Eastern tailed-blues primarily feed on flower nectar. However, they may also feed on dung, sap, and aphid honeydew.
  • Reproduction: Females deposit eggs individually on the buds of host plants.
  • Lifespan: This butterfly’s lifespan is about one season, or approximately a few weeks.
  • Host Plants: It utilizes a wide variety of legumes. Some common host plants include clover and vetch species.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Famed worldwide, the Monarch graces Oklahoma with its presence and captures nature-lovers’ hearts with its vivid orange and black hues.


  • Habitat: Ever seen large clusters of orange fluttering in the trees? That’s the Monarch in their overwintering sites. Their summer habitat is widespread across North America.
  • Appearance: Sporting radiant orange wings outlined with thick black borders, speckled with white spots, this butterfly is hard to miss.
  • Size: A fairly large butterfly, the Monarch spans 3.7-4.1 inches (9.4-10.4 cm).
  • Diet: As adults, they feed mainly on nectar from a variety of flowers, favoring milkweed.
  • Reproduction: Monarchs lay single eggs on a milkweed plant, which serves as the sole diet for the emerging monarch caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Most Monarchs live for 2-6 weeks. However, the generation that migrates south can live up to 8 months.
  • Host Plants: Milkweed is the main host and food source for Monarchs. It’s where they lay their eggs and what the caterpillars munch on after emergence.

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

Recognized by its distinctive black and white-striped pattern, the Zebra Swallowtail inhabits wooded areas near rivers and streams throughout Oklahoma.

Zebra Swallowtail butterfly

Let’s delve into some captivating facts about this unique butterfly:

  • Habitat: Prefers wooded areas and riverbanks.
  • Appearance: Showcases black stripes on white wings, complemented by a set of red and blue marks on its lower back wings.
  • Size: Ranges around 2.75 to 4 inches (7 to 10 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Nectars from a variety of flowers, but they have a preference for blue, purple, or pink blooms.
  • Reproduction: Female lay eggs on leaves of the Pawpaw tree, which later evolves into their larva state.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterfly lives for about 6 weeks.
  • Host Plants: The butterfly’s larvae feed exclusively on the leaves of various types of Pawpaw trees.

Knowing these unique traits makes it easier to spot the Zebra Swallowtail on your next nature walk in Oklahoma.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

The Red Admiral butterfly is a colorful character, commonly found in Oklahoma. It’s noticeable for a vibrant pattern etched on its wings.

red-admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: They love being in moist areas and also enjoy vast fields and canyons.
  • Appearance: Red Admiral features a striking pattern. It sports black wings edged with a red band, and white spots towards the tips.
  • Size: These butterflies reach a fair size, with their wingspan ranging from 1.75-2.5 inches (4.4 – 6.3 cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies usually feed on sweet substances, such as tree sap, rotting fruit, and bird droppings.
  • Reproduction: They lay their eggs singly on the tops of host plants, usually nettles.
  • Lifespan: The lifespan of Red Admiral butterflies ranges from 6 to 11 months.
  • Host Plants: The Red Admiral favors the stinging nettle, but will also use other types of nettles and hops.

The Red Admiral is indeed one striking butterfly, beautifully capturing the allure of Oklahoma’s butterfly population.

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

Your interest brings us now to the vibrant Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele). This butterfly is a joy to observe, carrying a rich orange hue with black spots that catch the eye.

Great Spangled Fritillary

  • Habitat: They flourish in meadows, fields, and near streams.
  • Appearance: They sport an arresting orange with black spots. The underside is brownish, adorned with silver spots.
  • Size: Their wingspan extends between 2.5 to 4 inches (6.4 to 10 cm) – quite more substantial than some others!
  • Diet: They savor nectar from a variety of flowers, particularly thistles and milkweed.
  • Reproduction: A single female can lay several hundred eggs. These hatch into caterpillars, then progress into full butterflies.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about a month in summer. Keep watch for this fleeting beauty!
  • Host Plants: Violets are their favorite, where they lay their eggs. Next time you spot one, remember the Great Spangled Fritillary – a significant butterfly within Oklahoma’s fauna.

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

The Orange Sulphur, also called the Alfalfa Butterfly, makes its home in various environments.

Orange Sulphur butterfly

  • Habitat: Ranging from fields and roadsides to gardens, this species adapts and thrives in diverse locales.
  • Appearance: It flaunts a bright orange upper side with black margins and spots running along them, making it a lovely sight.
  • Size: At maturity, it spans between 1.25 – 2 inches (32 – 51mm).
  • Diet: Adults sip nectar from myriad flowers, including seemingly minuscule ones like clover and dandelion.
  • Reproduction: Females lay cream-colored eggs on the tops of host plant leaves. From these, caterpillars emerge, promptly feasting on their leafy cradles.
  • Lifespan: Typically, they live a few weeks, although those that emerge later in the season may hibernate through the winter.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars prefer alfalfa, clover, and peas. So, if you plant these, you may contribute to propagating this beautiful species!

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

Let’s delve into this interesting creature, the Silver-spotted Skipper. You’ll find this species in a variety of habitats, from parks to forests to yards.

Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly

  • Habitat: They are adaptable, enjoying both sunny and shady locales.
  • Appearance: Sport an olive-green body and wings of silver and brown shades, with an unmistakable silver-white spot on their hind wings.
  • Size: They’re slightly large for a skipper, with a wingspan covering 1.75-2.5 inches (4.4-6.3 cm).
  • Diet: As adults, they’ll sip nectar from a wide variety of flowers. Similarly, their larvae feed on the leaves of their host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay greenish eggs on host plants. These hatch within days into larvae.
  • Lifespan: Typically, you’ll see them fluttering about from late spring until fall.
  • Host Plants: Predominantly, you’ll find them on Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), but they are known to target a variety of legumes as well.

They contribute a great deal to the pollination process, making them integral to their ecosystems.

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

  • Habitat: You’ll find the Red-spotted Purple in various habitats, from forests to parks.
  • Appearance: This one’s not a boring butterfly. Its wings have a black base color, highlighted with a bright iridescence of blue or blue-green. Look closely and see rows of red-orange spots lining its wings’ sub-margins.

Red-spotted Purple butterfly

  • Size: Not too big, not too little. Females span up to 4 inches (10.16 cm), males slightly less.
  • Diet: Bearing a sweet tooth? These butterflies feed on sap, rotten fruits, and dung.
  • Reproduction: The season starts in spring. Females lay round, smooth green eggs on the host plants.
  • Lifespan: Not the longest. Their lifespan covers about 2 weeks only as an adult butterfly.
  • Host Plants: Their larvae and caterpillars chow on the leaves of various types of trees, such as cherry, cottonwood, and willow. Red-spotted Purples can be a little picky.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

The Common Buckeye, scientifically known as the Junonia coenia, is an undeniable beauty you will come across in Oklahoma.

Common Buckeye butterfly

  • Habitat: You can often spot them in open, sunny areas with low vegetation and some bare ground.
  • Appearance: Characterized by their strikingly beautiful brown wings with eyespots of white or sometimes blue, they are not easily missed.
  • Size: They range from about 2 inches (51 mm) to 2.8 inches (71 mm) making them quite conspicuous.
  • Diet: Adult Common Buckeyes feed mainly on nectar from various flowers, while caterpillars eat plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs which hatch into caterpillars, which then pupate and emerge as adults.
  • Lifespan: Adults have a lifespan of about two weeks, however, those that emerge in the fall can hibernate and live through winter.
  • Host Plants: Its caterpillars are found on snapdragon, plantain, and several other plant species.

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

The Mourning Cloak, scientifically known as Nymphalis antiopa, is a marvel to behold.

Mourning Cloak butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly is no stranger to Oklahoma, seen in several habitats ranging from woodlands to parks.
  • Appearance: It boasts a lavish dark-brown cloak, bordered with a cream yellow edge, intimating a sense of mourning – hence the name.
  • Size: It’s an impressive creature, stretching 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) from wingtip to wingtip.
  • Diet: The Mourning Cloak’s appetite largely comprises willow, elm and hackberry tree sap, ripe fruits and even carrion.
  • Reproduction: They lay their eggs in clusters on tree bark and the chirping caterpillars are a sight to watch.
  • Lifespan: One of the longest-lived butterflies, they can greet you for nearly 12 months if conditions are favorable.
  • Host Plants: Look for them around willows, American Elm or hackberry trees. Here the eggs find a home, transitioning to caterpillars and soon enough, the awe-inspiring Mourning Cloak.

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

The Viceroy butterfly, scientific name Limenitis archippus, is a frequent sight in Oklahoma. It’s renowned for its similar appearance to the Monarch butterfly.

However, don’t be fooled; the Viceroy can be distinguished by the black line crossing its hind wings.


  • Habitat: Viceroys make their homes near marshes, swamps, and even along streams or rivers.
  • Appearance: They have an orange tone with black stripes. There is also a signature black line on the hind wings.
  • Size: Viceroys are medium-sized, typically ranging from 2.5 to 3.2 inches (6.35 to 8.13 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Adult Viceroys feed mainly on tree sap, decaying fruit, and fermented fruit while caterpillars munch on leaves.
  • Reproduction: The female lays her eggs on the upper side of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults usually live 2 to 6 weeks, with late summer generations overwintering in a pentadiapause stage.
  • Host Plants: The preferred host plants are trees from the Willow and Cottonwood families.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

The Cabbage White is one of the more ubiquitous butterflies in Oklahoma. Their preference to populate in a wide range of habitats, their striking appearance, and fascinating biological traits make them a standout butterfly species.

Cabbage White butterfly

  • Habitat: You’re likely to spot these butterflies nearly anywhere in Oklahoma. They favor open habitats, especially gardens and crop fields.
  • Appearance: The Cabbage White, true to its name, flaunts a primarily white exterior punctuated with tiny black spots on the wings.
  • Size: Their wing span stretches from about 1.3 to 2.2 inches (3.3 to 5.5 cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on nectar from various flowers while their caterpillar form is fond of members of the mustard family.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale yellow eggs on the leaves of host plants, which hatch within a week.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about two weeks, while the entire life cycle lasts around one month.
  • Host Plants: Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts are among their favorite host plants.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

The American Lady butterfly is a common yet breathtaking species. It’s akin to a visual symphony with its multi-colored wings.

American Lady butterfly

  • Habitat: They are adaptable creatures found both in sunny open areas and in denser woods.
  • Appearance: It has a wingspan of 1.75–2.6 inches (4.5-6.6 cm), with distinctive two large eyespots on the orange and black wings’ underside.
  • Size: Generally, the wingspan ranges between 1.75 to 2.6 inches (4.5 – 6.6 cm).
  • Diet: The adult butterflies enjoy nectar from flowers like dogbane, asters, goldenrod, marigold, and common milkweed.
  • Reproduction: After mating, the female lays her eggs on the underside of the host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: This species completes 2-3 broods a year and survives around 2-3 weeks as adult butterflies.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars feed on plants from the Asteraceae family, particularly cudweeds. They chew the leaves voraciously, aiding their growth before pupation.

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

The Cloudless Sulphur, also known as Phoebis sennae, is another fascinating butterfly species fluttering its way across Oklahoma.

Typically found in open areas and gardens, these creatures can often be spotted basking in the sunlight.

cloudless sulphur butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly loves open spaces and sunny gardens, giving you the perfect opportunity to marvel at its vibrant colors.
  • Appearance: Sporting a lemon-yellow color, this butterfly is hard to miss. The males are brighter compared to the pale females.
  • Size: These medium-sized butterflies range from 2.3 to 3.1 inches (58 to 78 millimeters) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Their preferred nectar sources are plants like impatiens and lantana.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single, green eggs on the host plants.
  • Lifespan: Usually, they have a lifespan of about a month in the butterfly stage.
  • Host Plants: They use plants from the Fabaceae family, primarily Senna and Partridge Pea, as their host plants for laying eggs.

Admire this splendid creature for its vibrant yellow tone when it skips around your garden.

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

Gulf Fritillary is a striking orange butterfly that frequents Oklahoma gardens.

gulf fritillary

Your easy guide to this amazing species:

  • Habitat: They inhabit a variety of environments, including urban areas, forests, and open fields.
  • Appearance: As adults, they exhibit bright orange upper wings with black markings. The underwings have silvery-white spots.
  • Size: This species has a wingspan of about 2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.5 to 9 cm).
  • Diet: Adults sip on nectar from various flowers, while the caterpillars feed on passionvine leaves.
  • Reproduction: The female lays yellowish-white eggs, usually on host plants. Caterpillars emerge in 3 to 5 days.
  • Lifespan: The adult Gulf Fritillary can live for about 5 weeks, while the entire lifecycle spans 2 months.
  • Host Plants: Passionvine is the primary host plant of this butterfly, serving as a food source for the larvae.

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)

The Clouded Sulphur or ‘Colias philodice’ is one of the captivating butterflies of Oklahoma.

Clouded Sulphur butterfly

  • Habitat: They are found in a variety of habitats like meadows, parks, and gardens.
  • Appearance: These butterflies possess yellow wings with strong, blackish outer margins.
  • Size: Small to medium in size, their wingspan ranges from 1.25 to 2 inches (32 mm to 50 mm).
  • Diet: Mostly, they feed on the nectar from various floras, like milkweeds, thistles, and asters.
  • Reproduction: Like other butterflies, the Clouded Sulphur lay their eggs on plants. These hatch into caterpillars which transform into pupa and eventually into adults.
  • Lifespan: They can live for about a month, depending on environmental factors and predators.
  • Host Plants: Alfalfa, clover, and other legumes are the preferred host plants.

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Meet the Gray Hairstreak, one of the most common butterflies in Oklahoma, its scientific name being ‘Strymon melinus’.

Gray Hairstreak butterfly

  • Habitat: This species can often be found in sunny open areas such as meadows and farmland.
  • Appearance: The Gray Hairstreak has distinct grey wings with distinctive red and blue marks.
  • Size: Typically ranging from 1 to 1.3 inches (2.5 to 3.3 cm), they are small but noticeably colourful.
  • Diet: Nectaring is their primary food source, with an affinity for a variety of flowers like milkweed and mint.
  • Reproduction: In the warm southern climate, Gray Hairstreaks can produce multiple generations in a year.
  • Lifespan: The Gray Hairstreak usually lives about 7 to 10 days, a brief but vibrant presence in your garden.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars of this species enjoy a wide spectrum of host plants, including cotton, beans and herbs.

Gray Hairstreak proves that beauty can indeed come in small packages!

Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)

The Variegated Fritillary is an alluring butterfly species. You can easily spot this butterfly species in various Oklahoma settings.

Variegated Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: They primarily inhabit open fields, meadows, and pastures.
  • Appearance: As for appearance, they flaunt distinctive orange and black patterns on their upper wings. To confuse predators, they display mottled brown and black spots on the underwings.
  • Size: The adult Variegated Fritillary averages a wingspan of 1.5 to 2.75 inches (3.8 to 7 cm).
  • Diet: Tending to be nectarivores, adult Variegated Fritillaries enjoy diverse sources of nectar like milkweed and thistle.
  • Reproduction: In the reproduction cycle, the females lay their eggs (usually pale green in color) on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan as adult butterflies is fairly short; generally 2-3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: They lay eggs on certain plants like passion vine, violets and daisies which later serve as the food source for the emerging larvae.

Their adaptability and broad palate make them a common sight in Oklahoma throughout the year.

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

You may have spotted the Question Mark butterfly (Polygonia interrogationis) on several occasions, its name hinting at the unique white mark resembling a punctuation symbol on its wings.

Question Mark butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly species thrives in woodland edges, city parks, orchards, and gardens.
  • Appearance: Its remarkable orange-brown wings with black spots set it apart, while its distinct white “question mark” gives it its name.
  • Size: It measures between 2.25 and 3 inches (5.7 to 7.6 cm) in width.
  • Diet: Feeds on rotting fruit, dung, and tree sap, especially during the summer. As a caterpillar, it feeds on nettles and elms.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on host plant leaves they find suitable for larval feeding.
  • Lifespan: Adult question marks have an enviable lifespan, living up to 6 months or longer, depending on the conditions.
  • Host Plants: Elms, nettles, and hackberry function as primary host plants for this butterfly species.

Their versatile diet and adaptability to various environments make them a frequent sight in Oklahoma.

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

The Giant Swallowtail captivates butterfly aficionados across Oklahoma. Let’s delve into the intricacies of this magnificent creature.

giant swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: Thriving predominantly in forests and orchards.
  • Appearance: It sports brown and yellow stripes with a distinctive tail, living up to its name.
  • Size: Size-wise, you’ll find them typically 4-6.3 inches (10–16 cm) in dimension.
  • Diet: The adult’s diet consists mainly of nectar from various flowers.
  • Reproduction: Female Giant Swallowtails lay single eggs on plants, which serve as food for the emerging caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Expect them to live around one month, but their full lifecycle from egg to adult ranges from 4 to 6 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Trees of the citrus family (Rutaceae) are their preferred spots for depositing eggs.

This species truly is a giant in its domain, stunning observers with its size and vibrant coloration.

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

The Black Swallowtail, scientifically known as Papilio polyxenes, is an enchanting butterfly species that is commonly found in Oklahoma.

Black Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: They are adept at adjusting to different environments and are found in forests, prairies, and even suburban gardens.
  • Appearance: Adult males have a yellow line along the edge of their black wings, while females sport a row of yellow dots and a blue crescent.
  • Size: Typically, their wingspan ranges from 3.1 to 4.3 inches (8 to 11 centimeters).
  • Diet: Adult Black Swallowtails primarily feed on nectar from flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the leaves of host plants, which hatch into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Their adult stage usually lasts about two weeks, depending upon weather conditions and predators.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars of this species feed on plants of the carrot family, including parsley and dill.

Black Swallowtails are a delightful addition to Oklahoma’s diverse butterfly population.


Exploring these 30 species of butterflies native to Oklahoma gives us all a vivid understanding of the enthralling insects populating the State.

Their variety in appearance, habitat, and behavior underscores the rich biodiversity found even in our backyards.

Now that you know a bit more about these fascinating creatures, why not leave a comment with your favorite butterfly species among these?

Butterflies   Updated: August 14, 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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