30 Butterfly Species in Ontario
Ontario, a beautiful province in Canada, is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including 30 stunning species of butterflies.
These winged wonders can be spotted fluttering about in gardens, fields, and woodlands, providing a captivating sight for nature enthusiasts.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at these 30 butterfly species, exploring their appearance, habitats, and unique characteristics.
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
You might be familiar with the stunning Monarch butterfly, known for its incredible migration journey across North America.
As one of the most famous butterfly species in Ontario, the Monarch has a captivating life cycle and distinct features.
Here’s an overview of this intriguing species:
- Habitat: Monarchs can be found in various habitats, including fields, meadows, gardens, and wetlands.
- Appearance: They have orange wings with black veining and a black border filled with white spots.
- Size: Their wingspan ranges from 3.5 to 4 inches (9-10 cm).
- Diet: Monarchs feed on nectar from various flowers, such as milkweed, goldenrod, and thistles.
- Reproduction: Males and females engage in a mating dance before the female lays her eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves.
- Lifespan: Several weeks for the first three generations of the year, but the fourth generation may live up to nine months as it migrates to wintering grounds.
- Host Plants: Milkweed is the sole host plant for Monarch caterpillars, providing food and protection during their larval stage.
So, next time you spot a Monarch in your garden or local park, remember the impressive journey it undertakes and its unique characteristics.
Eastern Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
The Eastern Swallowtail, scientifically known as Papilio glaucus, is one of the most common and recognizable butterflies found in Ontario.
This species is known for its beautiful and striking appearance, making it a popular sight for butterfly enthusiasts.
- Habitat: Eastern Swallowtails can be found in a variety of habitats including gardens, woodlands, meadows, and even along roadsides. They are most common in deciduous forests and open fields.
- Appearance: Eastern Swallowtails have striking yellow and black wings with blue and orange spots near the tail. The female butterflies may have a darker, almost black coloration.
- Size: These butterflies have a wingspan of approximately 3-6 inches, making them one of the larger butterfly species in Ontario.
- Diet: Adult Eastern Swallowtails primarily feed on the nectar from various flowers such as milkweed, thistles, and wild cherry. The caterpillars feed on the leaves of host plants.
- Reproduction: Eastern Swallowtails lay their eggs individually on host plants. The eggs take around 4-10 days to hatch, releasing caterpillars which then feed on the plants.
- Lifespan: The adult Eastern Swallowtail has a lifespan of 2-3 weeks. In that time, they focus on feeding, reproducing, and laying eggs for the next generation.
- Host Plants: The caterpillars feed on plants in the Apiaceae (carrot or parsley) and Rutaceae (citrus) families. These include plants such as Queen Anne’s lace, fennel, and citrus trees.
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis)
The Canadian Tiger Swallowtail is a fascinating butterfly species native to Ontario, and its beauty is admired by many.
Get to know more about this intriguing insect through the following key features:
- Habitat: Typically found in deciduous forests, woodlands, and suburban areas in Ontario, these butterflies prefer habitats where their host plants are abundant.
- Appearance: Their striking appearance consists of yellow wings with black stripes, resembling a tiger, and their hind wings have “tails” reminiscent of a swallow’s tail.
- Size: With a wingspan ranging from 7 to 10 centimeters, Canadian Tiger Swallowtails are relatively large butterflies.
- Diet: Adult butterflies primarily feed on flower nectar, while their caterpillars munch on the leaves of various deciduous trees.
- Reproduction: During mating season, females lay eggs on host plants’ leaves, which then hatch into caterpillars and eventually develop into beautiful butterflies.
- Lifespan: Adult Canadian Tiger Swallowtails generally live for about one month, while their entire life cycle, from egg to adult, spans about two months.
- Host Plants: These butterflies favor deciduous trees, with the most common host plants being aspen, cottonwood, birch, and willow trees.
The Canadian Tiger Swallowtail is an eye-catching species that contributes to the beauty and diversity of Ontario’s butterfly population.
Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
The Mourning Cloak is a unique butterfly species that you can find in Ontario. They are often considered one of the first signs of spring, as they emerge from their winter hibernation.
Let’s explore some interesting facts about the Mourning Cloak butterfly:
- Habitat: These butterflies prefer deciduous woodlands, parks, and suburban areas with trees and shrubs.
- Appearance: They have dark-brown wings, with a yellowish border and a row of iridescent blue spots along the edges. The undersides of their wings are quite plain, helping with camouflage against tree bark.
- Size: Mourning Cloaks have a wingspan of approximately 6-10 cm, making them fairly large compared to other butterfly species in Ontario.
- Diet: Adult Mourning Cloaks primarily feed on tree sap, especially that of oaks and elms, but they may also consume rotting fruit or nectar from flowers.
- Reproduction: Female Mourning Cloaks lay clusters of small, off-white eggs on host plants. The caterpillars are black-bodied with reddish-orange spots and spiky hairs.
- Lifespan: Once emerged from hibernation, adults can live for several months, longer than most other butterfly species.
- Host Plants: Some of their preferred host plants include willows, elms, and poplars where the larvae can feed on the leaves.
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
The Painted Lady is a wonderful butterfly species to spot in Ontario. Besides its amazing existence, this species has a fascinating life cycle and is known for its incredible long-distance migration.
- Habitat: You can find Painted Ladies in open areas like meadows, parks, gardens, and even vacant lots, making them quite versatile in their surroundings.
- Appearance: This butterfly has a stunning orange-brown color with black and white markings on the upper side of the wings while the underside is gray with five small eyespots.
- Size: The Painted Lady has a wingspan of about 5-9 cm (2-3.5 inches), making it a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: These butterflies mostly feed on nectar from flowers such as thistles, asters, and sunflowers.
- Reproduction: The females lay their eggs on the leaves of various host plants, and the caterpillars that hatch feed on these plants until they are ready to form chrysalises (pupae).
- Lifespan: Painted Ladies have a relatively short life expectancy of 2 to 4 weeks as an adult butterfly.
- Host Plants: Some of the preferred host plants for Painted Lady caterpillars include thistle, mallow, and hollyhock – plants that are commonly found in Ontario.
The Painted Lady is a delightful butterfly to observe, and with its remarkable migration patterns, you might just catch a glimpse of one in your backyard.
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
The Red Admiral is a stunning and lively butterfly that is prevalent in Ontario, adding beauty to the diverse landscape of the region.
These butterflies are bound to catch your attention with their striking colors and unique patterns.
Let’s learn more about them:
- Habitat: Red Admirals can be found in gardens, woodlands, meadows, and other open areas.
- Appearance: They have dark brownish-black wings with distinct red-orange bands and white spots near the wingtips.
- Size: Their wingspan ranges from 45 to 50 millimeters, making them medium-sized butterflies.
- Diet: As adults, Red Admirals primarily feed on flower nectar, especially from composite flowers like daisies and asters. They are also attracted to rotting fruit and sap.
- Reproduction: Males are territorial and seek out females to mate with. Upon mating, the female lays her eggs on suitable host plants.
- Lifespan: The adult butterflies live for approximately 2–3 weeks, allowing enough time for mating and laying eggs.
- Host Plants: The primary host plants for Red Admirals are different species of nettles, specifically the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) and the tall nettle (Urtica gracilis).
By familiarising ourselves with the vivid Red Admiral butterfly, we deepen our appreciation for the rich biodiversity found in Ontario.
White Admiral (Limenitis Arthemis)
The White Admiral or Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful butterflies found in Ontario.
With its incredible coloring and distinctive markings, it’s a favorite among nature enthusiasts.
Let’s learn more about this stunning butterfly:
- Habitat: The White Admiral thrives in deciduous and mixed woodlands, often seen near edges of forests or forests tracks.
- Appearance: It is characterized by its black wings adorned with white dots, a distinctive white band across the fore and hind wings, and red-spotted lower wings.
- Size: Adults have a wingspan of around 2.5 to 4 inches, making them moderately large butterflies.
- Diet: White Admirals feed on nectar from flowers, such as milkweed and wild cherry. They also eat aphid honeydew and tree sap occasionally.
- Reproduction: Adult females lay their eggs singly on the leaves of host plants, mainly in the spring and early summer.
- Lifespan: The adult White Admiral’s life expectancy ranges from 2 to 4 weeks.
- Host Plants: White Admiral caterpillars primarily feed on leaves of trees like aspen, birch, cherry, and poplar.
This remarkable butterfly is undoubtedly a treat to observe, as it gracefully flits from tree to tree, adding a touch of enchantment to Ontario’s forests.
Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)
The Eastern Comma is one of the beautiful butterflies you might encounter in Ontario. Belonging to the Nymphalidae family, this butterfly species is a pleasure to observe in nature.
Here’s what you need to know about the Eastern Comma:
- Habitat: Eastern Commas prefer wooded areas, such as deciduous forests, as well as riverbanks, and forest edges.
- Appearance: Their wings showcase a bright orange color, with black stripes and spots. A unique feature is their “comma” shaped silver mark on the hindwing underside.
- Size: These butterflies have a wingspan ranging from 1.75 to 2.25 inches (4.4 to 5.7 centimeters).
- Diet: Eastern Commas are fond of tree sap, rotting fruit, and dung, in addition to nectar from flowers like milkweed and goldenrod.
- Reproduction: They lay eggs singly on the host plants, producing two broods a year.
- Lifespan: Eastern Commas live for about two months.
- Host Plants: Host plants for the Eastern Comma include elm trees, nettles, and false nettles, which provide a source of nourishment for the caterpillars.
Keep your eyes peeled for these distinctive butterflies when exploring the natural beauty of Ontario.
Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)
The Question Mark butterfly is an enchanting and distinct species you can find in Ontario. This fascinating creature is aptly named for the unique markings on its hindwing that resemble a question mark.
Here’s a quick glance at its characteristics:
- Habitat: These butterflies typically reside in wooded areas, gardens, and near open fields.
- Appearance: Question Marks boast attractive orange-brown wings with black spots and lines, while the underside of their wings is brown with a prominent silvery question mark.
- Size: Their wingspan ranges from 4.5 to 7.6 cm, making them a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: As adults, they feed on nectar from various flowers, as well as tree sap, fruit juices, and even animal droppings.
- Reproduction: Females lay pale green eggs singly on host plants, starting the new generation of fascinating butterflies.
- Lifespan: Adult Question Marks have a lifespan of about 2 to 3 weeks in summer, while the last generation of the year can hibernate and survive up to 9 months.
- Host Plants: The larvae rely on a range of plants, including nettles, elms, and hackberries as their primary source of food.
Make it a mission to spot a Question Mark butterfly during your next nature walk; it is, after all, another astonishing species to be found in Ontario.
American Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)
The American Copper, a small and brightly colored butterfly, is commonly found in Ontario. This eye-catching butterfly has unique characteristics that set it apart from other butterfly species.
To give you a clear idea of the American Copper, let’s delve into its specifics:
- Habitat: This species tend to inhabit open areas, such as meadows, fields, and even roadsides. They are often found in warm, sunny locales.
- Appearance: American Coppers possess a bright orange wingspan with a bold black border and beautifully spotted hindwings. The underside of their wings is gray-brown with small black spots and vibrant bright orange on the rear edges.
- Size: These butterflies are relatively small, with wingspans typically measuring around 2.5 to 3.5 cm.
- Diet: Adult American Coppers mainly feed on nectar from flowers such as daisies, goldenrods, and asters. Their caterpillars prefer to munch on sorrel and dock leaves.
- Reproduction: Females typically lay eggs singly on the leaves of host plants. The eggs hatch into caterpillars after about a week, leading to pupation within a chrysalis for another week or so before the adult butterfly emerges.
- Lifespan: Adult American Copper butterflies have a short lifespan of approximately two to three weeks.
- Host Plants: Their larvae feed primarily on plants from the Polygonaceae family, specifically sorrels (Rumex species) and docks (Rumex species).
As you can see, the American Copper is a fascinating butterfly species with distinct traits and a preference for sunny open habitats.
Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas)
The Eastern Tailed-Blue, scientifically known as Cupido comyntas, is an eye-catching butterfly native to Ontario.
Here is a quick peek into its fascinating characteristics:
- Habitat: Eastern Tailed-Blues inhabit meadows, gardens, roadsides, and other open areas, delighting visitors with their enchanting presence.
- Appearance: Males are a shimmering blue with a black border, while females display a subtler blue shade and exhibit more apparent orange spots near the edges of their wings.
- Size: With their petite wingspan of 22-29 mm, Eastern Tailed-Blues are delicate little gems in the butterfly world.
- Diet: These dainty butterflies mainly feed on nectar from flowers like clovers and milkweeds.
- Reproduction: In exactly three broods per year, female Eastern Tailed-Blues lay their eggs on the underside of their host plants’ leaves.
- Lifespan: Eastern Tailed-Blue butterflies have a relatively short life, with adults living up to 10-14 days.
- Host Plants: Caterpillars of the Eastern Tailed-Blue munch on legumes like clovers, alfalfa, and beans, transforming into captivating butterflies as they grow.
Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)
The Great Spangled Fritillary is one of the stunning butterfly species you can find in Ontario. With its eye-catching patterns and enchanting flight, this butterfly surely brings a touch of magic to its surroundings.
Let’s dive into the details of this beautiful creature:
- Habitat: Great Spangled Fritillaries are commonly found in open fields, meadows, and gardens, as well as in early-successional and deciduous forest habitats.
- Appearance: These butterflies showcase a lovely combination of bright orange and black with intricate silver patterns on the underside of their wings.
- Size: They are relatively large butterflies, with a wingspan ranging between 62-88 millimeters.
- Diet: The adult Great Spangled Fritillaries primarily feed on nectar from various flowering plants such as milkweed, thistles, and violets.
- Reproduction: Female Great Spangled Fritillaries lay their eggs on or near violets, which serve as host plants for the caterpillars.
- Lifespan: These butterflies have a typical adult lifespan of about two weeks to a month.
- Host Plants: Violets, such as the wild blue violet and the yellow violet, serve as the primary host plants for Great Spangled Fritillary caterpillars.
Silver-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene)
The Silver-bordered Fritillary is a fascinating butterfly species known to grace the skies of Ontario.
There’s so much more to learn about these unique creatures, so let’s dive into exploring their unique characteristics.
- Habitat: Silver-bordered Fritillaries typically favor wetland habitats, including marshes, bogs, and damp meadows, where they enjoy the lush vegetation.
- Appearance: This butterfly has a distinctively patterned upper wing surface with dark, scalloped borders around silver spots, giving them a striking look against their warm orange background.
- Size: Adult butterflies have a wingspan of about 38-50mm, making them moderately sized compared to other species in Ontario.
- Diet: Adult Silver-bordered Fritillaries feed on nectar from various flowers, such as milkweed and turtlehead, while their larvae primarily feed on violet leaves.
- Reproduction: Females lay their eggs, one by one, in the vicinity of host plants. The emerging caterpillars will then use the host plants as a food source.
- Lifespan: The adult life stage of this species can last up to 2 weeks in the wild.
- Host Plants: The major host plant for their larvae is none other than the violet, specifically the marsh violet, which can be found abundantly in their preferred habitats.
Atlantis Fritillary (Speyeria atlantis)
The Atlantis Fritillary is a fascinating butterfly species native to Ontario. It is well-adapted to life in the Canadian wilderness, making it a delight to observe and study.
Here are some key features of this species:
- Habitat: They prefer open spaces, such as meadows, clearings, and forest edges, as well as areas near water sources like marshes and riverbanks.
- Appearance: Atlantis Fritillaries have large and vibrant wings with a distinct orange and black pattern; their underside is beautifully marked with silver spots, giving them a striking appearance.
- Size: This species has a wingspan that usually ranges from 2.2 to 2.5 inches or 5.6 to 6.3 cm.
- Diet: Adult Atlantis Fritillaries primarily feed on nectar from flowers such as milkweed, thistles, and other native plants.
- Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on or near violets, which will serve as a food source for their offspring as they develop into caterpillars.
- Lifespan: The entire life cycle, from egg to adult, takes about one year to complete; adults generally have a lifespan of a few weeks.
- Host Plants: Violets are the primary host plants, as they provide the necessary nourishment for the caterpillars to grow and develop into healthy adult butterflies.
Meadow Fritillary (Boloria bellona)
The Meadow Fritillary is one of the fascinating butterfly species you can find in Ontario. This beautiful creature can provide a captivating sight when spotted in nature.
Here’s what you need to know about the Meadow Fritillary:
- Habitat: They are found in meadows, grasslands, and open areas with a variety of wildflowers. They prefer sunny, moist locations near water sources like streams or ponds.
- Appearance: The Meadow Fritillary is primarily orange with black markings on both the upper and lower sides of the wings. The underside of the hindwing has a series of silver spots, adding a touch of shimmer to their appearance.
- Size: The wingspan of the Meadow Fritillary varies between 38 to 50mm, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: These butterflies feed on the nectar of various wildflowers, including asters, milkweeds, and violets.
- Reproduction: In late spring and early summer, females lay eggs on the leaves of host plants. The caterpillars then emerge and feed on the leaves, developing into chrysalises, and ultimately becoming adult butterflies.
- Lifespan: Adults have a relatively short lifespan, typically only a couple of weeks to a month.
- Host Plants: Meadow Fritillary caterpillars primarily feed on violets, specifically the common blue violet (Viola sororia) and the marsh blue violet (Viola cucullata).
Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia)
The Common Ringlet, scientifically known as Coenonympha tullia, is a widespread butterfly species in Ontario and North America.
This unique butterfly is often seen flying close to the ground, giving you a chance to admire its beauty up close.
- Habitat: The Common Ringlet is generally found in open fields, wet meadows, marshes, and grassy areas.
- Appearance: It has an overall brown color with a couple of small, round, black circles on its hindwings surrounded by a yellowish-orange band.
- Size: With a wingspan of 3 to 4 centimeters, this butterfly is relatively small in size.
- Diet: Adults mainly feed on the nectar from flowers such as thistles, daisies, and other wetland plants.
- Reproduction: Females lay their eggs individually on grass blades, typically at the base of the plant.
- Lifespan: The adult life span of the Common Ringlet is usually about two weeks, depending on the weather conditions.
- Host Plants: The larvae primarily feed on grasses, including various species of fescue, bluegrass, and brome.
The Common Ringlet is an attractive little butterfly that flourishes in the grassy habitats of Ontario. Its delicate beauty and unique markings make it a delightful find for butterfly enthusiasts in the region.
Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax)
The Red-spotted Purple, scientifically known as Limenitis arthemis astyanax, is a fascinating butterfly species often seen in Ontario.
These beautiful creatures boast an impressive blend of colors and patterns, making them an appealing sight to behold.
Here’s some essential information about this captivating butterfly:
- Habitat: Prefers deciduous forests, wooded areas, wetlands, and sometimes suburban gardens.
- Appearance: The upper side of the wings showcases iridescent blue with black margins, while the underside displays a combination of orange, red, and white spots on a blackish-brown background.
- Size: With a wingspan ranging between 3 to 3.5 inches, this butterfly is considered medium-sized.
- Diet: Adults primarily feed on tree sap, animal droppings, and rotting fruit, while the caterpillars munch on leaves.
- Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the tips of host plant leaves, where the caterpillars hatch and feed.
- Lifespan: Adult Red-spotted Purples generally live for approximately two weeks.
- Host Plants: Caterpillars feed on various host plants, such as cherry, birch, cottonwood, and willow trees.
Remember to keep an eye out for the Red-spotted Purple when exploring the beautiful outdoors of Ontario, as their vibrant colors and intriguing patterns make them a stunning addition to the local butterfly population.
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)
The Peacock butterfly is one of the most striking species of butterflies found in Ontario. Its beautiful patterns and vibrant colors make it a favorite among butterfly enthusiasts.
Let’s learn more about this fascinating creature:
- Habitat: Peacock butterflies prefer woodland edges, meadows, and gardens where various host and nectar plants are available.
- Appearance: The wings of a Peacock butterfly feature vibrant eye markings in blue, black, and yellow, surrounded by deep red coloration. They resemble the eyes of a peacock, hence the name.
- Size: Peacock butterflies have a wingspan between 50-55mm, making them a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: The adult Peacock butterfly feeds on nectar from various flowers, such as buddleia, thistles, and dandelions.
- Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the underside of nettle leaves, which provide a safe environment for the larvae to develop.
- Lifespan: Adult Peacock butterflies can live for about 11 months, which is relatively long for a butterfly.
- Host Plants: Their caterpillars primarily feed on common nettle (Urtica dioica), but can also be found on small nettle (Urtica urens) and hop (Humulus lupulus).
The Peacock butterfly is not just beautiful to look at, but also plays an essential role in the ecosystem, helping to pollinate plants and maintain biological diversity.
Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)
Viceroy butterflies are fascinating creatures with unique features native to Ontario.
These beautiful insects display striking similarities to the Monarch butterfly, which serves as a form of protection from predators.
Let’s dive into some details about the Viceroy:
- Habitat: Viceroys prefer living in wetlands, meadows, and other areas with abundant willows and poplars, their main host plants.
- Appearance: They have an orange and black coloration, a black line crossing their hind wings, and white spots on the black margins of their wings.
- Size: Viceroys have a wingspan of approximately 2.5-3.5 inches (63-88 mm).
- Diet: The adult butterflies primarily feed on aphid honeydew, decaying fruit, and nectar from various flowers.
- Reproduction: Females lay eggs individually on the leaves of host plants. The emerging caterpillars construct leaf nests by folding and securing the edges with silk.
- Lifespan: Adult viceroys have a relatively short lifespan, usually living for only two to three weeks.
- Host Plants: Their preferred host plants are willows, poplars, and aspens.
The Viceroy butterfly is a stunning and fascinating creature that can be found across Ontario, making it one of the area’s must-see butterfly species.
Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)
The Pearl Crescent is a beautiful and common butterfly species found in Ontario.
It belongs to the Nymphalidae family and is known for its unique markings that resemble crescent-shaped moons on the lower wing.
- Habitat: Pearl Crescents are generally found in open areas such as fields, gardens, roadsides, and meadows.
- Appearance: They possess orangish-brown wings with black and brown borders. Each wing has a crescent-shaped marking that has a yellowish tint.
- Size: This species has a wingspan ranging from 25 to 35 millimeters.
- Diet: Pearl Crescents primarily feed on the nectar of flowers, including asters and goldenrods.
- Reproduction: The female lays several dozen eggs on the underside of their host plant leaves. These eggs will develop into caterpillars and then pupate into adult butterflies.
- Lifespan: The adult butterfly lives for around two to three weeks.
- Host Plants: Pearl Crescent caterpillars mainly depend on plants from the aster family as their host plants, where they can feed on the leaves and grow.
This charming butterfly species is a marvelous sight to see during warm months in Ontario, as they grace the open fields and gardens with their delicate fluttering motion.
Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)
The Orange Sulphur is another captivating butterfly species found in Ontario. Known for its vibrant colors and distinct patterns, this butterfly is a delight to observe in its natural environment.
Let’s explore some of the key aspects of the Orange Sulphur butterfly:
- Habitat: Orange Sulphur butterflies are commonly found in meadows, fields, and gardens. They prefer open areas with plenty of sunlight and an abundance of nectar-rich flowers.
- Appearance: The wings of the Orange Sulphur are primarily bright yellow or orange, with black edges and a distinctive silver spot present on the hindwings. This unique color combination makes them easy to distinguish from other butterfly species.
- Size: The typical wingspan of an Orange Sulphur butterfly ranges between 38-64 mm, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: As adults, the Orange Sulphur primarily feeds on nectar from various flowers such as clovers, milkweeds, and asters. The caterpillars, on the other hand, feed on the leaves of different plants including clover and alfalfa.
- Reproduction: These butterflies usually mate on sunny afternoons and lay their eggs on the host plants where their larvae will feed.
- Lifespan: The Orange Sulphur butterfly has a relatively short lifespan, living for approximately a month as an adult.
- Host Plants: The caterpillars of Orange Sulphur butterflies feed on plants like alfalfa, clover, and occasionally vetch. This helps sustain their growth and development through the larval stage.
Pink-edged Sulphur (Colias interior)
The Pink-edged Sulphur is a unique butterfly species found in Ontario, known for its distinctive appearance and behavior.
This butterfly is an essential part of the province’s natural ecosystem, playing a crucial role in pollination while also serving as an indicator of a healthy environment.
Let’s delve into some specific features of the Pink-edged Sulphur:
- Habitat: Pink-edged Sulphurs are mostly found in boreal forests, meadows, and wetlands where their host plants, blueberries and cranberries, can thrive.
- Appearance: They are characterized by pale-yellow wings with a pinkish-orange edge and a distinctive dark spot in the center. Males have a brighter color compared to the females.
- Size: They have a wingspan of around 1.5 to 2 inches (38-51 mm), making them a relatively small butterfly species.
- Diet: Adult Pink-edged Sulphurs feed primarily on nectar from various flowers, while their caterpillars consume the leaves of their host plants.
- Reproduction: Mating occurs during late spring and early summer. After mating, females lay their eggs singly on leaves of host plants where the caterpillars can feed.
- Lifespan: Adult Pink-edged Sulphurs have a short lifespan of about 2 to 3 weeks.
- Host Plants: The main host plants for this butterfly species are blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) and cranberries (Viburnum spp.), providing both nourishment and shelter for their caterpillars.
Little Wood-Satyr (Megisto cymela)
The Little Wood-Satyr is one of the 30 butterfly species you can find in Ontario.
Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating creature:
- Habitat: Little Wood-Satyrs prefer deciduous and mixed forests, forest edges and clearings, as well as grassy meadows near woods.
- Appearance: This butterfly has brownish wings with dark brown markings and distinct eye-spots on both forewings and hindwings. Those eye-spots serve to confuse predators.
- Size: The wingspan of Little Wood-Satyrs ranges between 3.5 to 5.0 cm, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: Adult Little Wood-Satyrs mainly feed on tree sap, rotting fruit, and sometimes flower nectar, while their caterpillars munch on grasses.
- Reproduction: After mating, females lay their eggs on the native grasses which will serve as food for the hatching caterpillars.
- Lifespan: The adult Little Wood-Satyr typically lives for around 2 weeks, during which they complete their reproductive cycle and then die.
- Host Plants: The primary host plants for Little Wood-Satyr caterpillars are various native grasses, such as Orchard Grass and Fowl Meadow Grass.
Keep an eye out for this charming butterfly species when you’re exploring Ontario’s forested areas and grassy meadows.
Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)
The Common Buckeye is an enchanting butterfly species, and its presence adds even more charm to the biodiversity of Ontario.
Let’s learn about this captivating species:
- Habitat: The Common Buckeye is adaptable, inhabiting various environments like gardens, roadsides, fields, and even woodland clearings.
- Appearance: This butterfly has a distinctive and striking appearance, with brown wings adorned by striking, multi-colored eye-spots ensuring it stands out.
- Size: A moderate-sized butterfly, the Common Buckeye has an average wingspan of 4.3 – 6.8 centimeters (1.7 -2.7 inches).
- Diet: Nectars from a wide variety of flowers like asters, sunflowers, and verbena feed adult Common Buckeyes.
- Reproduction: During reproductive periods, females lay eggs individually on the host plants’ leaves or bud flowers.
- Lifespan: The Common Buckeye lives for about two weeks, allowing enough time for crucial mating and egg-laying.
- Host Plants: These butterflies prefer the snapdragon and plantain families, which provide excellent nourishment and protection for their caterpillars.
The Common Buckeye is an interesting and remarkable butterfly species that contributes to the charm of Ontario’s diverse natural environment. Keep an eye out next time you’re exploring the outdoors- you might be lucky enough to spot one of these beauties.
Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)
The Black Swallowtail, known as Papilio polyxenes, is a fascinating butterfly species native to Ontario. These stunning creatures are quite common, and can be easily spotted in various habitats.
Let’s take a closer look at the distinctive features of the Black Swallowtail:
- Habitat: Black Swallowtails prefer open areas such as meadows, gardens, fields, and edges of woodlands, where they can easily access their host and nectar plants.
- Appearance: The butterfly is characterized by its striking black wings adorned with a series of yellow markings along the wing borders, and blue spots near the tail. Males have more prominent yellow markings, while females sport an iridescent blue band on their hindwings.
- Size: With a wingspan of about 8 to 11 cm, Black Swallowtails are one of the larger butterfly species in Ontario.
- Diet: Adult Black Swallowtails primarily feed on nectar from various flowers such as milkweed, phlox, and thistles.
- Reproduction: Black Swallowtails typically mate in the spring and lay their eggs on host plants specific to their caterpillars’ dietary needs.
- Lifespan: Adults have a relatively short lifespan of about two to four weeks in which they mate, lay eggs, and die.
- Host Plants: Caterpillars feed on plants from the parsley family, including dill, fennel, carrots, and Queen Anne’s Lace.
By understanding these features, you’ll be better equipped to recognize and appreciate the beauty of the Black Swallowtail as it graces your outdoor adventures in Ontario.
Common Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala)
The Common Wood-Nymph, scientifically known as Cercyonis pegala, is a butterfly species that can be frequently found in Ontario.
It belongs to the family Nymphalidae and is often seen flying in grassy and open wooded areas.
Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating butterfly:
- Habitat: Common Wood-Nymphs are predominantly found in open grasslands, meadows, and clearings in deciduous forests.
- Appearance: These butterflies have a distinct dark brown and yellowish or white pattern on their hindwings, making them easy to identify. They also exhibit large “eye” spots on both the upper and lower sides of their wings.
- Size: The wingspan of the Common Wood-Nymph ranges from 5 to 7.5 cm, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: Adult Common Wood-Nymphs usually feed on flower nectar, while the caterpillars consume various grass species as their primary food source.
- Reproduction: Females lay their tiny eggs on grass blades and caterpillars emerge to feed on the host plants.
- Lifespan: The typical lifespan of a Common Wood-Nymph is approximately 1-2 months.
- Host Plants: Caterpillars of the Common Wood-Nymph primarily feed on species of the Poaceae family, including different types of grasses like panic grass, little bluestem, and muhly grass.
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
The Cabbage White butterfly is one of the most common butterfly species found in Ontario.
They are widespread and can be seen fluttering around in gardens, parks, and fields from spring to early fall.
Here’s what you need to know about this charming butterfly:
- Habitat: Cabbage Whites inhabit open spaces such as meadows, roadways, agricultural areas, and gardens.
- Appearance: They have white wings with black tips on the forewings and one or two black spots on each wing. The underside of the wings is pale greenish-yellow.
- Size: The wingspan of this butterfly ranges from 32 to 47 mm.
- Diet: Adult butterflies feed on flower nectar, while caterpillars consume the leaves of various plants in the mustard family.
- Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on the host plant leaves, which hatch into caterpillars after several days. The caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis, turning into a chrysalis before becoming an adult butterfly.
- Lifespan: Adult Cabbage White butterflies have a brief lifespan of about 30 days.
- Host Plants: Preferred host plants include cabbage, broccoli, kale, and other plants in the Brassica family, explaining their common name.
These seemingly delicate creatures are hardy and can adapt to multiple habitats, ensuring their continued survival across Ontario.
Checkered White (Pontia protodice)
The Checkered White butterfly is an interesting species you may encounter in Ontario. Being quite adaptable, they’re often found in a variety of habitats and environments.
Here’s what you should know about the Checkered White:
- Habitat: Checkered Whites can be found in open fields, meadows, gardens, and even along roadsides.
- Appearance: As their name suggests, these butterflies have a checkered pattern on their white wings. The underside of their wings is light gray with white and black markings.
- Size: The Checkered White has a wingspan of about 38-50 mm, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
- Diet: As adults, they feed on nectar from various flowers, including milkweed, thistle, and alfalfa. Their caterpillars feed on plants from the mustard family, such as wild mustard and shepherd’s purse.
- Reproduction: Female Checkered Whites lay their eggs singly on their host plants. The eggs hatch into caterpillars, which then pupate in a loose cocoon before emerging as adult butterflies.
- Lifespan: The adult Checkered White has a short lifespan of around two weeks.
- Host Plants: The primary host plants for the Checkered White caterpillars are wild mustard and shepherd’s purse.
With this knowledge in hand, you’ll be sure to identify the Checkered White butterfly next time you find one fluttering about!
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti)
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell, scientifically known as Aglais milberti, is a small and beautiful butterfly species found in Ontario.
This butterfly is known for its striking and unique appearance, making it a delight to spot in the wild.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the characteristics of this fascinating species:
- Habitat: Milbert’s Tortoiseshells are commonly found in wooded areas, meadows, and wetlands.
- Appearance: They boast a vibrant color pattern with bright orange forewings adorned with black markings, and dark hindwings featuring a blue iridescent patch.
- Size: Their wingspan typically measures between 4.5-6.4 centimeters.
- Diet: Adult Milbert’s Tortoiseshells feed on flower nectar, while caterpillars munch on the leaves of various plants.
- Reproduction: The females lay eggs on host plants, which later hatch into caterpillars and eventually transform into butterflies.
- Lifespan: The adult butterflies live for an average of 2-4 weeks.
- Host Plants: Milbert’s Tortoiseshell caterpillars primarily feed on stinging nettles, which serve as their primary host plant.
Next time you’re exploring the outdoors in Ontario, keep an eye out for this stunning butterfly species and appreciate the beauty it adds to the local ecosystem.
American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)
The American Lady is a beautiful butterfly species that is native to Ontario and can be found across much of North America.
This attractive species is known for its striking coloration, making it easy to spot in the wild.
Here are some interesting facts about the American Lady:
- Habitat: The American Lady prefers open, sunny areas such as fields, meadows, forest edges, and gardens.
- Appearance: It has a wingspan of 4-6 cm and is decorated with orange, black, and white colors, displaying distinctive and beautiful eye spots on the lower wings.
- Size: This medium-sized butterfly has a wingspan that ranges from 4 to 7.5 cm.
- Diet: The adult American Lady feeds on nectar from various flowers like aster, goldenrod, and milkweed.
- Reproduction: Males perch and patrol to seek out females for mating. Females lay single eggs on the host plant’s leaves.
- Lifespan: Adult butterflies live for about two to three weeks, while the entire lifecycle lasts from one to two months.
- Host Plants: The caterpillar primarily feeds on plants from the Aster family, particularly the cudweed, pearly everlasting, and pussytoes.
The American Lady is an exquisite butterfly to observe in the wild landscapes of Ontario.
It is essential to protect their habitat and food sources to conserve this stunning species for future generations to enjoy.
In conclusion, Ontario is home to a diverse array of beautiful butterfly species, each with their own unique characteristics and behaviors.
Exploring and learning about these fascinating creatures can be both an educational and enjoyable experience.
Share your thoughts and experiences with Ontario’s butterflies in the comments section below!