30 Butterfly Species in Oregon

Ever wondered about the diversity of butterfly species in Oregon? In this article, you will delve deep into the fascinating world of 30 unique butterflies native to the state.

Each with its charming beauty and distinct characteristics, let’s embark on this colorful journey.

Variable Checkerspot (Euphydryas chalcedona)

It’s time to get acquainted with the Variable Checkerspot. This species is known for its distinctive pattern and lively coloration.

Variegated Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: Often found on the open fields or woodland edges of Oregon, the Variable Checkerspot favors environments with plenty of sunlight.
  • Appearance: This butterfly boasts a vibrant mosaic of orange, white, and black spots on its wings.
  • Size: An adult typically measures up to 2 inches (5.08 cm) in wing span.
  • Diet: Its diet includes nectar from a variety of flowers, with a preference for thistles.
  • Reproduction: The female lays her eggs on the underside of host plants.
  • Lifespan: With a short lifespan of about one month, these beauties make the most of their time.
  • Host Plants: Checkerspots lay eggs on plants like the woolly plantain and Indian paintbrush, vital for the survival of their larvae.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

If you’d like to spot one of the most prevalent butterfly species in Oregon, keep your eyes peeled for the Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta). The beauty of this butterfly is quite memorable.

red admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: Naturally at home in wooded areas or near nettle plants. Frequently seen in gardens, parks, and sometimes even inside homes.
  • Appearance: Distinguished by their vibrant orange-red bands contrasted on a dark black wing base.
  • Size: Generally medium-sized, boasting a wingspan of around 2-2.7 inches (5-6.8 cm).
  • Diet: Mostly feed on nectar from flowers like Buddleia, overripe fruit, and bird droppings.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the leaves of nettle plants. The caterpillar that hatches feeds on these leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about six weeks, preserving the species with multiple generations per year.
  • Host Plants: Predominantly nettles (Urtica dioica), but also hop (Humulus lupulus), and Pellitory (Parietaria judaica).

European Peacock (Inachis io)

The European Peacock, scientifically known as Inachis io, is one of the most enchanting butterfly species you’ll come across in Oregon.

Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io)

  • Habitat: Often found exploring woodland edges, hedgerows, and even gardens. It tolerates varying temperatures, making it adaptable.
  • Appearance: Its striking eye pattern on the wings, which resembles a peacock’s tail, sets it apart. The combination of red, blue, and black hues is mesmerizing.
  • Size: It ranges between 1.6 to 2.4 inches (4 to 6 cm). Not too small, not too large, but perfect to catch your eye.
  • Diet: Adult Peacocks primarily feed on flower nectar, while the caterpillars feed on nettles.
  • Reproduction: Females lay up to 500 eggs on the under-side of nettle plants in early spring.
  • Lifespan: The European Peacock has a respectable lifespan of around 11 months.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars favor stinging nettles, where female butterflies typically lay their eggs.

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

The Pipevine Swallowtail is an elegant butterfly species you’ll encounter in Oregon. You’ll appreciate this for its stunning looks and grace.

Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: The Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly thrives well in forests, woodlands, and even urban gardens.
  • Appearance: Resplendent in black with charismatic blue or green hues, depending upon the sunlight, it showcases a row of white spots on its wings’ underside.
  • Size: This versatile butterfly measures up to 3 – 4 inches (~7.6 – ~10.2 cm) in wingspan. A true delight for the eyes.
  • Diet: Aside from nectar, these butterflies also feed on minerals found in wet soil or mud.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their tiny, reddish-brown eggs on the leaves of the Pipevine plant.
  • Lifespan: The Pipevine Swallowtail normally lives for about a month in the wild.
  • Host Plants: The Pipevine plant is the primary host plant for the caterpillars as they find this toxic plant to their taste. This helps them to mature into toxin-resistant butterflies.

Undoubtedly, the Pipevine Swallowtail is a unique treasure of Oregon’s biodiversity.

Western Pygmy-Blue (Brephidium exilis)

As we continue our journey, meet the Western Pygmy-Blue, known scientifically as Brephidium exilis.

Western Pygmy Blue butterfly

Boasting the title of smallest butterfly in North America, this tiny critter is sure to capture your attention:

  • Habitat: Typically, they favor habitats with saltbushes, as they are found in deserts, salt marshes, and coastal areas.
  • Appearance: Sporting colors of coppery-brown and blue, they stand out against the landscape. White markings fringe their wings.
  • Size: Remarkably, their wingspan reaches just 0.5 to 0.75 inches, or 1.3 to 1.9 centimeters.
  • Diet: Primarily depending on nectar, they feed on flowers like aster and rabbitbrush.
  • Reproduction: Eggs are laid on the underside of host plants, fostering the next generation of this tiny beauty.
  • Lifespan: Adults live only a week, but produce multiple generations per year.
  • Host Plants: Saltbushes mainly serve as the host plant; a key to their survival.

Isn’t it fascinating that such a tiny creature can survive and even thrive in harsh conditions? Keep reading to learn about equally amazing butterflies residing in Oregon!

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

The “Cabbage White” is an intriguing butterfly species with a lot to offer.

Cabbage White butterfly

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Habitat: They are highly adaptable and can thrive in diverse environments, from rural countryside to urban gardens.
  • Appearance: This butterfly flaunts a white to pale green hue, with black spots on forewings and a black border on wing tips.
  • Size: The wingspan for this species typically ranges from 32mm to 47mm (1.25 to 2 inches).
  • Diet: Caterpillars of this species favor cruciferous plants, while adults are nectar feeders.
  • Reproduction: They breed multiple times a year, producing greenish-yellow eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults are fairly transient, only living up to three weeks.
  • Host Plants: The most popular ones include cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and other plants in the mustard family.

This common butterfly may look simple, but its resilience and adaptability make it an important part of Oregon’s butterfly population.

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

The Mourning Cloak, or Nymphalis antiopa, is one of Oregon’s most distinctive butterflies.

Mourning Cloak butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly prefers habitats such as open woodlands and parks.
  • Appearance: The Mourning Cloak boasts a maroon-brown wing with an edge lined with pale yellow and blue spots.
  • Size: It has a wingspan of approximately 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters)
  • Diet: This species feeds on tree sap, fermenting fruit, and sometimes flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs in clusters on the twig of the host plants.
  • Lifespan: Remarkably, this butterfly lives up to 10 to 11 months-longer than most species.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillar’s host plants include willow, cottonwood, and elm.

Bearing a sorrowful name, the Mourning Cloak thrives amidst the natural beauty of Oregon, adding to its rich biodiversity.

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

One of Oregon’s most distinguished butterflies is the Monarch. Don’t be surprised if you spot its iconic orange, black, and white wings fluttering in fields and gardens.


  • Habitat: Monarchs prefer open areas where milkweed grows. They’re often sighted in meadows, roadsides, and residential areas.
  • Appearance: With bright orange wings crisscrossed with black lines and bordered with white dots, Monarchs stand out beautifully.
  • Size: This substantial butterfly boasts a wingspan of 3.5-4 inches (9-10 cm).
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar, savoring an array of flowers. As caterpillars, they feed exclusively on milkweed.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on milkweed plants, the sole food source for their offspring.
  • Lifespan: Monarchs usually live for 2-6 weeks, with the last generation hatching each season having a more extended lifespan, typically seven to eight months.
  • Host Plants: Milkweed is both the prime host plant and the caterpillar’s sole diet.

California Crescent (Phyciodes orseis)

California Crescents are fascinating creatures with their own unique traits.

California Crescent (Phyciodes orseis)

Here is what you need to know about this butterfly species:

  • Habitat: These butterflies reside in coastal regions and mountain foothills in Oregon. They have a particular affinity for sunny, open areas.
  • Appearance: They wear a beautiful combination of orange and black on their wings, with intricate white spots adorning their borders.
  • Size: A typical California Crescent spans roughly 1.25-1.5 inches (3.1-3.8 cm) across their spread wings.
  • Diet: As adults, they primarily feed on flower nectar. However, larvae have a taste for thistles.
  • Reproduction: Their reproduction cycle is complex. Females lay eggs on host plants which hatch into larvae. The larvae feed on the plant until they develop into pupae, and then metamorphose into butterflies.
  • Lifespan: The typical lifespan is 2-3 weeks for adults.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plants for their larvae are thistles, specifically the star thistle (Centaurea solstitialis).

Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon)

The Anise Swallowtail is a common butterfly species found in Oregon.

anise swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: This species thrives in many environments but is most at home in open fields and gardens.
  • Appearance: Adults display brilliant yellow coloring with black striping. Their hindwings are adorned with vibrant blue dots and a red eye-spot.
  • Size: These winged beauties measure between 2.4-3.8 inches (6-9.6 cm) in wingspan, making them a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: As nectar feeders, adult Anise Swallowtails frequent flowers for sustenance. Their larvae munch on leaves of the parsley family.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on host plants. The eggs hatch into caterpillars, start feeding, then eventually form chrysalises before emerging as adult butterflies.
  • Lifespan: The lifecycle from egg to butterfly lasts about a month. Adults live for several weeks, enough time to reproduce.
  • Host Plants: Laying their eggs on anise, fennel, and other plants in the parsley family, these are the primary host plants for Anise Swallowtail larvae.

California Sister (Adelpha bredowii)

The California Sister is a striking butterfly indigenous to Oregon.

California Sister butterfly

  • Habitat: It is primarily found in oak and chaparral woodlands, being especially abundant near hillside springs and streams.
  • Appearance: This species carries an exquisite blend of contrasts, ranging from a deep black to vibrant oranges and blues, akin to a stained glass window.
  • Size: Adult California Sisters generally spread their wings to 7 cm (about 2.76 inches).
  • Diet: As caterpillars, they oftentimes feed on the foliage of oak trees and as adults, they frequently imbibe tree sap, rotten fruits, and rarely flowers.
  • Reproduction: After winter, female California Sisters lay their eggs on the leaves of oak trees.
  • Lifespan: The lifespan of the California Sisters varies significantly. After emerging in the spring, they go through multiple broods throughout late summer.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plant for their larvae is the common oak tree. They can also use Madrone and manzanita species.

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

The Orange Sulphur or Alfalfa butterfly is indeed easy to spot in Oregon’s open meadows.

Orange Sulphur butterfly

Let’s dive into some amazing specifics about this radiant butterfly species:

  • Habitat: Thrives in open areas like meadows, fields, and road edges.
  • Appearance: Bright orange upperwings with black spots and black outer edges, and subtly decorated underwings in yellow or greenish-white.
  • Size: Notably small with around 1.5 to 2.5 inches (38 to 63 mm) wingspan.
  • Diet: They get nutrition from nectar, especially from plants like clover and alfalfa.
  • Reproduction: A captivating love dance precedes egg-laying, with females sometimes laying up to 600 eggs.
  • Lifespan: Like many butterflies, the Orange Sulphur’s lifespan is relatively short, usually a few weeks.
  • Host Plants: Prefers Alfalfa, white clover, and other legumes as host plants.

Keep a look out for this vibrant creature when next out in Oregon’s sunlit meadows.

California Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica)

The California Tortoiseshell, scientifically known as Nymphalis californica, is a native butterfly species prevalent across Oregon.

California Tortoiseshell butterfly

  • Habitat: Prefers wooded regions, including forests and residential areas with an abundance of trees.
  • Appearance: It’s distinguishable due to its vibrant orange-brown wings adorned with dark spots.
  • Size: As an adult, it spans approximately 2-3 inches (5.1-7.6 cm) in width.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies primarily feed on nectar from flowers, while caterpillars feed on leaves of host plants.
  • Reproduction: The females lay their eggs in clusters on the leaves of suitable host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live up to 2 weeks, and sometimes longer in cooler weather.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of the Sierra Ceanothus plant.

This local butterfly species is a visual treat to observe. Their striking colouring stands out against the greenery of Oregon’s various habitats.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Painted Lady butterfly is native to Oregon. They’re a fascinating species in the butterfly community.

painted lady butterfly

  • Habitat: Interestingly, this species is found nearly everywhere, including Oregon, across various habitats ranging from mountains to gardens.
  • Appearance: They exhibit striking and vibrant colors. They possess vivid orange wings stamped with black and white spots.
  • Size: They have a moderately large size, with a wing span ranging from 5-9 cm (2-3.5 inches).
  • Diet: As adults, they feed primarily on nectar from various flowers. The caterpillars prefer thistles.
  • Reproduction: The females lay their eggs on thistle plants. The larvae metamorphose into pupa and then into adult butterflies.
  • Lifespan: Generally, they can live for 2 weeks to a month, depending primarily on conditions like temperature and availability of food.
  • Host Plants: Thistle plants serve as primary host plants where the females lay eggs, and the young caterpillars feed on.

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

The Spring Azure pulls your eye with its vibrant blue wings, a common sight in Oregon.

Spring Azure butterfly

  • Habitat: You’ll find this species in most environments, from seashores and forests to suburban gardens.
  • Appearance: The Spring Azure sports pale blue on the upper side of its wings. Underneath, the wings are white with small black spots.
  • Size: This low-flying, fast butterfly typically is 1 to 1.3 inches (2.5-3.3 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Adults feed on flower nectar and dung, while the larvae feed on various shrubs.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on a host plant, often a flower bud. The caterpillar, once hatched, feeds on the flower.
  • Lifespan: The Spring Azure has a short lifespan of around one week.
  • Host Plants: These butterflies favor Dogwood and Buckthorn, among other shrubs, for their larvae to feed on.

Hopefully this glimpse into the life of a Spring Azure has excited your sense of wonder. Keep an eye out for these blue beauties next time you’re wandering in the Oregon wilderness.

Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas)

When exploring the butterfly species of Oregon, you’ll likely come across the diminutive Eastern Tailed-Blue.

Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: It adapts well and can be found in many places from meadows to roadsides.
  • Appearance: Their underwings have a subtle grey-blue hue accompanied by small, distinct orange spots near the tail.
  • Size: Small with a wingspan of only about an inch or 2.5 centimeters.
  • Diet: Adult Eastern Tailed-Blues are connoisseurs of flower nectar, while the caterpillars enjoy a legume diet.
  • Reproduction: After winter ends, the females lay eggs and can produce up to three broods in a season.
  • Lifespan: Limited, but this species has proven to be quite prolific, with generations overlapping within a season.
  • Host Plants: Clovers, Alfalfa and other legumes serve as the host plants for this butterfly’s caterpillars.

With luck, you might stumble upon this small wonder in Oregon.

Two-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata)

The Two-tailed Swallowtail offers a captivating sight with its large yellow body and striking black stripes.

two-tailed swallowtail butterfly

As you delve deeper into its characteristics, you’ll find an array of intriguing traits:

  • Habitat: Primarily inhabits deciduous woodlands, creek valleys, and suburban areas.
  • Appearance: Yellow body with black stripes adding to its visual allure.The ‘tails’ on its hind wings set it apart.
  • Size: Impressive size range from 3 to 5 inches, approximately 7.5 to 12.5 cm.
  • Diet: Depends largely on nectar from a variety of bright colored flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay clusters of eggs under leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults live approximately 10 to 15 days, with the entire lifespan ranging from 30 to 60 days.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars feed on the leaves of a diverse assortment of trees like willows, cherries, and aspen.

This species is a joy to observe and contributes significantly to the biodiversity of Oregon.

Pacific Orangetip (Anthocharis sara)

Welcome to your exciting meeting with the Pacific Orangetip butterfly, scientifically named Anthocharis sara. This colourful creature is a true sight to behold.

Sara Orangetip butterfly

  • Habitat: Predominantly, these butterflies inhabit areas close to streams and canyons.
  • Appearance: Pacific Orangetip butterflies display a remarkable blend of colors, with males having orange tips on their white wings.
  • Size: Their size ranges from 1.25 to 2 inches or approximately 3.2 to 5 centimeters.
  • Diet: They have an affinity for flower nectar and spring mustards.
  • Reproduction: Pacific Orangetip reproduce once a year, laying their green eggs on flower buds.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan varies, but under favorable conditions, it can be 7 to 10 days.
  • Host Plants: Some of their preferred host plants are rock cress and mustards for their larvae to feed on.

Each encounter with a Pacific Orangetip is a delightful spectacle of natural beauty. So, don’t forget to observe and cherish these wonderful creatures when you spot them in the wild.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

The American Lady butterfly finds its place as an emblem of beauty within Oregon’s diverse butterfly population.

American Lady butterfly

  • Habitat: These butterflies inhabit open spaces such as fields and meadows. They are found in North, Central, and South America.
  • Appearance: The American Lady boasts a striking color palette. It has two large eye-spots on the ventral side, numerous white spots on the dorsal forewings, and orange, white, and black shades.
  • Size: The wingspan ranges from 5-6 cm (about 2-2.5 in).
  • Diet: As adults, they primarily feed on nectar from various plants such as thistles and aster.
  • Reproduction: The female lays eggs individually on the host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: The typical lifespan varies from 2 weeks to about a month.
  • Host Plants: Various species of Everlasting (Pseudognaphalium) are primary host plants. The caterpillar stages are dependent on these plants for survival.

Queen (Danaus gilippus)

The Queen butterfly, scientifically known as Danaus gilippus, is one impressive species you can find in Oregon.

Queen Butterfly

  • Habitat: Mainly resides in sunny and open areas such as meadows or fields.
  • Appearance: Sports a royal palette of browns and blacks contrasted with specks of white, giving it its majestic look.
  • Size: Exudes grandeur with its wingspread that ranges from 2.5 to 3.5 inches (6.5 to 9 cm).
  • Diet: Enjoy a nourishing meal from milkweed nectar and occasionally, from the nectar of the flowers.
  • Reproduction: Queen butterflies are also prolific breeders, nurturing hundreds of eggs at a time.
  • Lifespan: These monarchs of the insect realm can live up to 6 weeks, pledging to nature’s cycle.
  • Host Plants: The Queen butterfly larvae feast primarily on milkweed plants.

Each detail connects this creature both to the fascinating world of butterflies and the rich biosphere of Oregon.

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

The Viceroy butterfly is a fascinating creature, native to Northern America and you’ll find these in Oregon as well.


Here’s what you need to know:

  • Habitat: Viceroys love wet, open or shrubby spaces. They are frequently seen along streams or marshy areas.
  • Appearance: They resemble the Monarch butterfly, with black-lined orange wings, but they have a distinguishing black line crossing the postmedian hindwing.
  • Size: They are small to medium-sized butterflies, with a wingspan of 2.5-3 inches (6.35-7.62 cm).
  • Diet: Nectar from flowers such as milkweeds and goldenrods forms their diet. They also munch on dung or carrion.
  • Reproduction: The female lays greenish-white eggs singly on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adult Viceroys typically live 2 weeks, but longer in colder regions.
  • Host Plants: They prefer willows, poplars, and aspen trees to lay their eggs. The caterpillars feed on these leaves.

The Viceroy butterfly has a significant role in the ecosystem, pollinating as it travels from flower to flower.

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

The Gray Hairstreak, known scientifically as Strymon melinus, is a common butterfly species found in Oregon.

Gray Hairstreak butterfly

  • Habitat: These gray butterflies are most likely to be found in open, sunny areas, such as fields, meadows, and gardens.
  • Appearance: The Gray Hairstreak is quite distinctive with gray wings that have a streak of orange and black dots. Its hindwings end in small, hair-like tails.
  • Size: These insects are relatively small, with a wingspan of around 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm).
  • Diet: Adult Gray Hairstreak butterflies feed on nectar from various plants, while the caterpillars prefer legume family plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs singly on buds of the host plant. They also have the potential to produce several generations a year.
  • Lifespan: The lifespan of Gray Hairstreaks is about one month for adults.
  • Host Plants: Their host plants mostly belong to the legume family, they include pea plants, beans, and clovers.

Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis)

The Common Checkered-Skipper, a charming inhabitant of Oregon, exhibits a blend of behaviors and traits that contribute to its uniqueness.

Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis)

  • Habitat: Prefers sunny open spaces, like agricultural fields and gardens.
  • Appearance: Notable for its gray-blue wings sprinkled with white and black dashes.
  • Size: Small-sized, with a wingspan ranging between 1-1.5 inches (2.5-3.8 cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies sip nectar from flowers like Verbena and Buddleia, while caterpillars dine on plant leaves.
  • Reproduction: Females lay spherical, greenish eggs on the undersides of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: These butterflies live an average of 9 months, undergoing all the stages of their butterfly life cycle during that period.
  • Host Plants: They favor plants like Mallows and Hollyhocks, providing a nourishing spot for their larvae to grow and metamorphose.

Stay tuned as we continue our exploration of Oregon’s diverse butterfly species.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

The Silver-spotted Skipper, scientifically known as Epargyreus clarus is indeed a sight you’ll be thrilled to behold whilst in Oregon.

Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly

  • Habitat: These beautiful creatures are indeed versatile, thriving in fields, gardens and even disturbed habitats.
  • Appearance: They’re one of Oregon’s largest Skippers. Their distinctive feature? A silver-white spot on the lower side of their hindwing.
  • Size: They’re quite impressive, boasting a wingspan of about 1.8 to 2.5 inches or 45-65mm.
  • Diet: As an adult, expect them to savor floral nectar. Their caterpillars however are more partial to legume leaves.
  • Reproduction: They typically lay their eggs individually, on or near the host plant – always one to keep their offspring close.
  • Lifespan: They average a lifespan of around 10 to 14 days, a short but meaningful existence.
  • Host Plants: Silver-spotted Skippers have a host of preferred plants. Take note, these include legumes like black locust and false indigo. If you find any, you might just spot a Skipper nearby.

West Coast Lady (Vanessa annabella)

You may recognize Vanessa annabella, also known as the West Coast Lady.

West Coast Lady butterfly

Here is some key information about this lovely butterfly:

  • Habitat: They prefer open, sunny areas with plenty of flowers. This includes gardens, meadows and paths.
  • Appearance: A striking orange with black and white markings on the upper side, their hind wings showcase a series of small black dots.
  • Size: The West Coast Lady is on the large side, typically having a wingspan of 2 to 2.6 inches (50 to 65 mm).
  • Diet: Their primary diet consists of the nectar from flowers such as Buddleia and Aster.
  • Reproduction: Multiple generations occur each year. Females lay pale green eggs on the caterpillar’s host plants.
  • Lifespan: They live for roughly about a month in the butterfly stage.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars enjoy feeding on Mallow (Malvaceae) and Hollyhock plants (Alcea).

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

The Great Spangled Fritillary is a striking specimen.

Great Spangled Fritillary

  • Habitat: You’ll primarily spot these in meadows or fields adorned with flowers. They prefer places with moist soil, like damp woodlands and marshes.
  • Appearance: This species exhibits a lovely orange-brown color-tone. Silver spots cover the underside of their wings, lending to their “spangled” name.
  • Size: They are somewhat large, with a wingspan ranging 2.5 to 4 inches (approximately 6.35 to 10.16 cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on the nectar of flowers like milkweed, ironweed, thistles, and coneflowers.
  • Reproduction: Females scatter eggs on or near host plants in late summer.
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies generally live around 3-4 weeks, with most of their life cycle occurring in the larval stage.
  • Host Plants: Violets are their top choice. Larval development starts in spring when violets begin to bloom.

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

The Cloudless Sulphur is one of the familiar species of butterflies you’ll encounter in Oregon. This butterfly can be described as a splash of sunshine with its brilliant yellow coloring.

cloudless sulphur butterfly

Take notes on some key traits of this species:

  • Habitat: Typically found in open areas such as fields, gardens, or roadsides.
  • Appearance: They boast an impressive yellow to green exterior. The males tend to be brighter than their female counterparts.
  • Size: On average, they can reach a wingspan of 2.2-3.1 inches (5.5-7.8 cm).
  • Diet: The adults feed mainly on nectar from red or pink flowers, while the larvae favor plants in the pea family.
  • Reproduction: Mating generally occurs in the afternoon.
  • Lifespan: Their life cycle from egg to adult usually takes about a month.
  • Host Plants: Chosen plants for laying their eggs include partridge pea, wild senna, and clovers.

Understanding these elements will enhance your appreciation for this delicate creature the next time you spot one.

Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus)

The Western Tiger Swallowtail is among the most spectacular butterflies you can encounter in Oregon.

Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly


  • Habitat: It enjoys open woodlands, fields, parks, and gardens.
  • Appearance: This species boasts a striking yellow body with black stripes, akin to a tiger, hence its name.
  • Size: It ranges between 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 cm) in wing span.
  • Diet: The adult butterflies feed on nectar from a variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their spherical, green eggs on the undersides of leaves.
  • Lifespan: With a lifespan of only one month, they pack a lot of living into a short time.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars eat from a wide variety, including cottonwood, aspen, and cherry trees.

Spotting one of these in your backyard is certainly a sight to behold.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

The Common Buckeye is one of the spectacular butterfly species you would come across within the boundaries of Oregon.

Thriving in a variety of environments, this butterfly is not a picky resident.

Common Buckeye butterfly

  • Habitat: Diverse, from sunny open areas including meadows or fields, roadsides, to gardens.
  • Appearance: Predominantly brown with eye-catching eye spots in orange and white on their outer wings.
  • Size: Medium-sized, wingspan of 1.5-2.75 inches (3.8-7 cm).
  • Diet: Mainly nectar from a variety of flowers. Caterpillars feed on host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on buds or leaves of host plants. Caterpillars emerge and start eating and growing.
  • Lifespan: Adults generally live for few weeks only. However, the final generation of a year can live up to nine months.
  • Host Plants: Wide range, including Snapdragons, Plantains, and other members of the figwort family.

This butterfly’s beauty is truly matched by its fascinating lifecycle and diverse choice of habitat and food.

Clodius Parnassian (Parnassius clodius)

This last butterfly on our list takes residence in the West Coast mountains. A larger species, it is recognizable from its clear white wings patterned with black spots and red marks.

Clodius Parnassian butterfly

  • Habitat: They predominantly thrive in sunlit, high-altitude mountain terrains.
  • Appearance: White wings with black spots, plus red and occasionally yellow markings at their edges.
  • Size: It boasts a significant wingspan of 2.2-3 inches (5.6-7.6cm).
  • Diet: Primarily feeds on nectar from various flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the leaves of chosen host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults enjoy a relatively short lifespan of 2-3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Their larvae are particularly partial to Stonecrop and Sedum species.

Admire these stunning creatures in their habitat, but remember: they’re more than just a beautiful sight, they’re crucial contributors to our ecosystem.

The diversity of butterflies in Oregon is truly impressive and a blessing to behold.


In conclusion, Oregon is truly a haven for a diverse range of beautiful butterfly species.

Each one, from the bold Red Admiral to the petite Western Pygmy-Blue, adds a unique spark of life and color to Oregon’s rich ecosystems.

We’d love to hear your experiences with these charming creatures in the comments below.

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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