30 Butterfly Species in South Carolina

Do you know about the fascinating world of butterflies in South Carolina? This article will walk you through 30 remarkable butterfly species that call Carolina home.

From the colorful Clouded Sulphur to the exotic Cofaqui Giant-Skipper, prepare yourself for an extraordinary tour of these winged wonders.

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)

The Clouded Sulphur, scientific name Colias philodice, is a species that adds color to the South Carolina landscape.

Clouded Sulphur butterfly

Below, we will delve into more characteristics of this unique butterfly:

  • Habitat: Prefers open areas such as fields, meadows, gardens, and roadways.
  • Appearance: Displays yellow wings. Males have a sharp black border, while females have a softer, more diffused border.
  • Size: Possesses a wingspan of 1.5 – 2.0 inches (3.8 – 5.1 cm).
  • Diet: The caterpillar feeds on clover, alfalfa, and other legumes. Adult butterflies sip nectar.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale green eggs singly on the host plants.
  • Lifespan: A short life cycle. Two to three weeks as an egg, two weeks as caterpillar, ten days as a pupa, and two weeks as an adult.
  • Host Plants: Major legumes, including alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and white clover (Trifolium repens).

So next time when you spot a Clouded Sulphur, you’ll know quite a bit about it.

Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas)

You’ll often spot the Eastern Tailed-Blue in places like open fields, roadsides, or gardens. This butterfly species flaunts a beautiful blue color that’s easy to recognize.

Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: They thrive in open sunny areas, gardens, or fields.
  • Appearance: Their unmistakable blue color is accented with an orange spot near the tail on the hindwing.
  • Size: Adults have a small wingspan, reaching only 1.9 cm (0.75 inches) across.
  • Diet: They are drawn towards small flowers, particularly those in the pea family.
  • Reproduction: Mating occurs in the afternoon, and eggs are laid on the host plant’s flower buds.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for an average of one week.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars like to snack on plants in the Leguminosae family.

Their small size and eye-catching color make them one of South Carolina’s most delightful butterfly species.

Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)

The Red-banded Hairstreak, scientifically known as Calycopis cecrops, is one of the eye-catching butterfly species native to South Carolina.

It’s a delight to watch due to its vibrant patterns and unique features.

Red-banded Hairstreak butterfly

  • Habitat: Mainly, it thrives in gardens, fields, and forest edges.
  • Appearance: Features a striking greenish-grey color with red bands on the underside of the hind wings, and two tail extensions.
  • Size: A smaller species, typically ranges from 1 to 1.20 inches (2.5 to 3 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Their primary diet consists of honeydew from aphids, though they also nectar from various flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the fallen leaves of trees, where caterpillars will then feed.
  • Lifespan: Generally, the adult lifespan lasts for approximately 7-10 days.
  • Host Plants: Oaks, wax myrtle, and other members of the Myricaceae family serve as host plants for the Red-banded Hairstreak caterpillars.

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

The Black Swallowtail, otherwise known as Papilio polyxenes, is a common inhabitant of South Carolina. Serving as a delightful sight during summertime, it’s a species not to be missed.

Black Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: It mildly favors open fields and spaces, making it a common visitor to gardens.
  • Appearance: Characterized by its striking black wings, punctuated by yellow spots along the border and two orange eyespots near the tail.
  • Size: Adults span roughly 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) in wingspan, lending them a distinctive presence.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from a wide range of flowers like clover and milkweed.
  • Reproduction: Males chase females for mating. On average, females lay about 200-430 eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan varies. Caterpillars last 10-30 days, pupae can ‘sleep’ up to two years, and adults live up to 12 days.
  • Host Plants: Fennel, parsley, and celery serve as common host plants.

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

The Small Tortoiseshell is a charismatic species to pay attention to.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

  • Habitat: Ranging anywhere from herbaceous lands to city parks, these butterflies adapt well to diverse environments.
  • Appearance: Showcasing striking orange and black patterns on their wings, they easily stand out against their natural backdrops.
  • Size: A mature Small Tortoiseshell usually measures around 2-2.5 inches (50-63mm) wide.
  • Diet: As adults, they feed on nectar from a variety of flowers, whilst the caterpillars munch on nettles.
  • Reproduction: Females lay clusters of eggs on the underside of nettle leaves, which are the primary food source for the emerging larvae.
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies can live for up to a year, making them one of the longer-living species of butterflies.
  • Host Plants: Common nettles make up the principle diet for Small Tortoiseshell larvae, therefore serving as key host plants for this species.

Next time you’re venturing outdoors, keep an eye out for this stunning butterfly!

Coral Hairstreak (Satyrium titus)

Discover the Coral Hairstreak, a butterfly of striking beauty that calls South Carolina home. This species is intriguing and is known for its beautiful coral-red bands.

Coral Hairstreak butterfly

Here are some important aspects:

  • Habitat: You will often find them in woodlands, fields, or along roadsides.
  • Appearance: They boast a grayish-brown upper side with a coral-red band on the edge of the hind wing.
  • Size: They are relatively small, usually ranging from 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 centimeters).
  • Diet: As adults, they rely on nectar from a wide variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on the host plant or nearby.
  • Lifespan: Adults usually live for about two weeks.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed on wild cherry, American plum, and hawthorn plants.

With their vivid colors and unique nature, Coral Hairstreak butterflies are surely a spectacle worth witnessing.

Olive (Juniper) Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus)

The Olive Hairstreak, also known as Juniper Hairstreak, is one of the beautiful butterfly species found in South Carolina.

"Olive" Juniper Hairstreak - Callophrys gryneus, Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area, Aden, Virginia

  • Habitat: This species favors open pine or mixed woodlands. Their presence can also be seen in suburban gardens and parks.
  • Appearance: The Olive Hairstreak has a unique olive-green color on the underside, with a single white line across both wings. The upper side is grey-brown.
  • Size: The typical wingspan of an Olive Hairstreak falls within 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 centimeters).
  • Diet: Main source of food includes flower nectar of different plant species like Hawthorns and Milkweeds.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on the leaves of the host plants.
  • Lifespan: The exact lifespan isn’t known, but most hairstreaks live for about one month during the summer.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillar stage feeds mainly on Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and other juniper species.

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

Among the beautiful butterflies you can find in South Carolina, the Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) holds a special place.

Spring Azure butterfly

  • Habitat: This species favors a wide range of natural and man-made habitats, such as meadows, woodland edges, and parks.
  • Appearance: These creatures display lovely blue wings, lighter towards the center, with a series of black spots.
  • Size: Their wingspan measures between 0.8 to 1.1 inches (2 to 2.8 cm).
  • Diet: As an adult, they feed on nectar. When in the caterpillar phase, they consume the leaves of host plants.
  • Reproduction: Males tend to swarm around females for breeding in the afternoon.
  • Lifespan: Like most butterflies, their life cycle ranges from weeks to a month.
  • Host Plants: It particularly favors buds and flowers of dogwood, viburnum, and blueberries.

The Spring Azure is therefore a delightful presence that adds to the natural richness of South Carolina.

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)

The ‘Long-tailed Skipper’ (Urbanus proteus) is a delightful sight to behold in South Carolina’s gardens and parks.

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Habitat: Prefers open, sunny spaces with flowers and shrubs. Spotted in backyard gardens and roadside vegetation.
  • Appearance: Exhibits a body with a blue-green tint and long tails on its hind wings. Their wings have a prominent dark brown color, with a yellow band across.
  • Size: Wingspan ranges from 1.75 to 2.25 inches (about 4.5 – 5.7 cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies savor nectar from flowers mostly, while the caterpillars are leaf feeders.
  • Reproduction: Lays its eggs singly on host plant leaves. The eggs hatch into larvae that transition into pupae before emerging as adults.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for several weeks, during which they mate and lay eggs.
  • Host Plants: Prefer bean plants, including legume crops and wild lupine. They can also thrive on other plants in the pea family, such as wisteria.

Particularly eyecatching, this butterfly is a charming addition to the vibrant ecosystem of South Carolina.

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

The Zebra Swallowtail is a beautiful butterfly, easily recognized by its striking pattern.

Zebra Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: They inhabit moist lowland woods, especially near streams and roadsides where pawpaw trees grow.
  • Appearance: As the name suggests, it has zebra-like stripes; primarily black and white.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 2.75 to 4 inches (7 to 10 cm), it has long, triangular wings.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from various flowers, while the caterpillars mainly eat pawpaw.
  • Reproduction: The female Zebra Swallowtail lays her eggs one by one, often reusing the same pawpaw tree.
  • Lifespan: These beauties enjoy a brief life—generally one month.
  • Host Plants: Principally, pawpaw trees serve as a host plant, but they also fancy hop tree and northern prickly ash.

With such unique characteristics, the Zebra Swallowtail stands out among the butterfly species found in South Carolina.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

The Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) is a common butterfly species you’ll find in South Carolina. Take the time to learn about this fascinating creature.

Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly

  • Habitat: Prefers open, sunny areas with plenty of flower nectars. Frequently seen in gardens and roadsides.
  • Appearance: Identified by its quick, skipping flight and characteristic silver spot on its hindwings. Males have a ridge of scent scales on the forewing, while females lack it.
  • Size: Averaging about 2 inches (5 cm) in wingspan, it is one of the largest skippers.
  • Diet: Adults feed on the nectar of flowers such as thistles and red clover. They show a peculiar preference for purple, pink and red flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females scatter eggs singly under host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults can live for 20 – 30 days, typical of most short-lived butterflies.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars feed on legumes, especially in the genus Amorpha. The caterpillars construct individual shelters by folding over a leaf and securing it with silk.

Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus)

Considered one of the most beautifully hued species, the Great Purple Hairstreak is an irresistible beauty.

Great Purple Hairstreak - Atlides halesus

Let’s take a look at the species’ characteristics:

  • Habitat: Typically found in broad-leaved forests and nearby areas, they are fond of sipping nectar from flowers.
  • Appearance: Males and females both display a stunning iridescent blue body, tailed hind wings, and striking red spots near the tail.
  • Size: They are a mid-sized species with a wingspan of about 1.5-2 inches (3.8-5.1 cm).
  • Diet: Like most butterflies, they feed on nectar, favoring flowers such as milkweed and sweet basil.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the leaves of host plants – primarily Mistletoe.
  • Lifespan: On average, they live about one month as an adult butterfly.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plant is Mistletoe, where females prefer to lay their eggs.

Isn’t it fascinating to learn about the beauty and particulars of South Carolina’s butterfly species?

Sleepy Orange (Eurema nicippe)

The Sleepy Orange or Eurema nicippe is one of the charming butterfly species you’ll spot in South Carolina.

Sleepy Orange butterfly

  • Habitat: Their habitats range from open woodland to gardens, and their presence is common in roadside meadows.
  • Appearance: Primarily, they are orange and get their distinctive name due to black margins on their upper wings which are like sleepy eyes.
  • Size: The wingspan of Sleepy Orange is between 1.3 to 2.3 inches (3.3 to 5.8 cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on the nectar from various flowers like hibiscus, lantana, and milkweed.
  • Reproduction: The reproduction process includes egg-laying on host-plant leaves, which further evolves into caterpillars, pupa, and finally butterflies.
  • Lifespan: Generally, they live a week or two, but may live up to a month in perfect conditions.
  • Host Plants: The preferred host plants are clovers, partridge pea, and other plants from the pea family.

Palamedes Swallowtail (Papilio palamedes)

The Palamedes Swallowtail, a beautiful butterfly, holds a special place among South Carolina’s butterfly species.

Palamedes Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: You can often spot these in swampy areas or pine flatwoods.
  • Appearance: They showcase an impressive dark brown and yellow pattern, complemented by blue and yellow spots on their tail.
  • Size: This beauty usually measures 4.5 to 5.5 inches (11.5 to 14 cm) in wing-span, quite the spectacle.
  • Diet: These butterflies feed mostly on nectar from various plants, with a special love for thistles and milkweeds.
  • Reproduction: Female lays eggs on the new growth of host plants, which then hatch into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan varies, but the delicate creatures can live up to two weeks in the wild.
  • Host Plants: Red Bay trees and Swamp Bay trees are most favored by the caterpillars. Their presence greatly contributes to the flourishing of these butterflies.

These captivating features make the Palamedes Swallowtail a wonder to spot in the wild.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Ever noticed a large, yellow and black striped butterfly in South Carolina? Most likely, you’ve spotted an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus).

These butterflies are well-loved for their striking coloration and large size.

eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: These fluttering beauties inhabit a diverse range of areas. From deciduous woods to urban areas, they love them all.
  • Appearance: They have distinctive yellow-black striping with elongated tails on hindwings.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 3 to 6 inches (7.6 to 15 cm), they are substantially large.
  • Diet: As adults, their diet primarily includes nectar from various flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on host leaves where the larvae feed.
  • Lifespan: Adult swallowtails typically live up to 2 weeks
  • Host Plants: The preferred plants are wild cherry, magnolias, and lilacs, among others.

To see these elegant visitors, plant some lilac bushes or wild cherry trees in your garden.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

The Cabbage White is quite a frequent sight in South Carolina and beyond.

Cabbage White butterfly

  • Habitat: You’ll spot the Cabbage White in a variety of locations such as parks, gardens, and roadways.
  • Appearance: It’s distinguished by its delicate white wings, adorned with black tips and spots.
  • Size: Small and graceful, this butterfly measures around 1.25-2 inches (3.2-5 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Adults are prolific nectar-feeders, and are regularly spotted on flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: In a single year, Female Cabbage Whites can lay hundreds of small, yellow eggs.
  • Lifespan: Expect a lifespan of around two weeks for adult Cabbage Whites.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars develop best on plants from the mustard family, including broccoli and cabbage (hence their name.)

Don’t you feel a sense of delight knowing the humble Cabbage White may be fluttering around your backyard?

Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis)

As you explore South Carolina, it’s likely you’ll come across the Common Checkered-Skipper. This butterfly species is distinctive and quite charming.

Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis)

  • Habitat: Found in open environments like fields and gardens, where they enjoy the South Carolina sunshine.
  • Appearance: Displays a checkered black and white pattern that stands out against green foliage.
  • Size: On the smaller side, they typically have a wingspan of 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5-3.8 cm).
  • Diet: These butterflies enjoy the sweet nectar from a variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Female Skippers lay eggs on the underside of plants; the emerging larvae weave small tents for protection.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live about a week, but in that week, play a key role in pollination.
  • Host Plants: You might find them on Malvaceae plants as these are their preferred host plants.

This common butterfly species is a key part of South Carolina’s ecosystem, demonstrating the interconnectedness of nature. The Checkered-Skipper’s presence is a sign of a healthy environment.

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

The Gulf Fritillary is a delightful spectacle to behold, with an habitat predominantly in South Carolina’s coastal areas.

gulf fritillary

  • Habitat: Their natural abode stretches from southern marshes to gardens.
  • Appearance: They stand out with a striking bright orange with black spots on their upper wings.
  • Size: Their wingspan ranges from 2.5 to 3.9 in (6.3 to 9.9 cm).
  • Diet: They feed on nectar from several flower species offering a variety of floral tastes.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on host plants, typically the passion vine.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan reaches up to 3 weeks, a brief but colorful existence.
  • Host Plants: Passion vines serve as the primary host plant for Gulf Fritillary caterpillars, providing ample nourishment.

The Gulf Fritillary is indeed a vibrant contributor to South Carolina’s remarkable butterfly population. Their unique traits charmingly contribute to the lively, dynamic local landscape.

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

When wandering through the sunny landscapes of South Carolina, you might encounter the Giant Swallowtail, scientifically known as Papilio cresphontes.

giant swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: They commonly populate areas with citrus trees which can include gardens, orchards, and even roadside groves.
  • Appearance: Easily distinguished by their dark brown to black wings, they are adorned with a striking diagonal band of yellow spots creating a delightful spectacle when in flight.
  • Size: These butterflies can grow up to 5.5 inches (14 cm) in wingspan, making them the largest butterfly species native to North America.
  • Diet: The adult Giant Swallowtail primarily feeds on the nectar of plants like azalea and bougainvillea.
  • Reproduction: They lay their spherical, orange to red-colored eggs on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: The adult lifespan typically spans around a month, though it can vary depending on environmental conditions.
  • Host Plants: Favorite plants include various species of citrus, making your gardens their preferred breeding ground.

Silvery Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus)

The Silvery Blue butterfly presents a mesmerizing sight with tasteful hues and idyllic flight. Admire it and you’ll be captivated by its otherworldly beauty.

Silvery Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: Predominantly present in sunny open areas and meadows.
  • Appearance: Males boast stunning, silvery blue wings with dark outlines. Females have contrasting dull brown wings.
  • Size: The wingspan stretches approximately 1-1.5 inches (25-38 mm).
  • Diet: Nectar from flowers like Dandelions and Vetch is their main source of sustenance.
  • Reproduction: After an elegant courtship, female Silvery Blues lay their eggs on lupine plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about 7-10 days, yet the entire life cycle spans about a year.
  • Host Plants: Lupine plants serve as primary hosts where females lay eggs, and caterpillars feed on these plants post-hatching.

The Silvery Blue is genuinely a charming butterfly species in South Carolina. Cherish them while they’re around, for like any ephemeral beauty, they’re here today and gone tomorrow.

Gray Copper (Lycaena dione)

Gray Coppers are one of the butterfly species that call South Carolina their home.

gray copper (Lycaena dione) on pale purple coneflower at Decorah Prairie IA 653A3131

Here are some quintessential characteristics of this butterfly:

  • Habitat: They are found in variety of habitats, usually in open areas, fields or grasslands.
  • Appearance: They have grayish-bronze upper side with a distinct coppery sheen. The underside is more pale.
  • Size: With a wingspan of 1.2 to 1.5 inches (3 to 3.8 cm), they are medium-sized.
  • Diet: Their feeding habit is on nectar from flowers like clovers and milkweeds.
  • Reproduction: They produce several generations each year. The females lay eggs on the host plant.
  • Lifespan: They have a relatively short lifespan of about a week as adults.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed on the leaves of dock and sorrel species.

Understanding Gray Coppers can increase your appreciation for the diversity of butterfly species you may encounter in South Carolina.

Queen (Danaus gilippus)

The Queen butterfly is a beautiful species that adds to the rich biodiversity of South Carolina.

Queen Butterfly

  • Habitat: They frequent fields and meadows, preferring open, sunny areas.
  • Appearance: With dark brown wings highlighted by white spots, the Queen is visually stunning.
  • Size: Their wingspan can reach 3.1–3.9 inches (80–100mm), making them rather large for butterflies.
  • Diet: Queens mainly feast on milkweed.
  • Reproduction: After mating, the females lay their eggs on milkweed plants.
  • Lifespan: Their longevity varies; some live a few weeks, others up to nine months.
  • Host Plants: Their primary host plant is understandably the Milkweed, on which they rely for survival.

Next time you’re in South Carolina, keep an eye out for this majestic butterfly. You’ll be amazed by its captivating beauty.

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

The Spicebush Swallowtail is a delightful part of South Carolina’s butterfly populace. Found in a variety of habitats, this butterfly is known for its distinct appearance and behavior.

Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: Preferring wooded areas and forest edges, it thrives in areas with a variety of spicebush and sassafras trees.
  • Appearance: This butterfly sports a stunning black body decorated with ivory spots along the edge of the wings. When its wings open, a striking blue or green shine shines through.
  • Size: The Spicebush Swallowtail has a sizable wingspan, typically reaching between 3.5 to 4.5 inches (8.89 to 11.43 centimeters).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies nourish themselves with nectar from different flowers while caterpillars munch on leaves of the spicebush and sassafras trees.
  • Reproduction: They lay their spherical, green eggs individually on leaves of the favorite host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adult Spicebush Swallowtails usually live for around a month.
  • Host Plants: They commonly use spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and sassafras trees (Sassafras albidum) as their host plants, especially for egg-laying.

This butterfly offers a spectacle of natural beauty and is an integral part of the region’s biodiversity.

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

The Gray Hairstreak, scientifically known as ‘Strymon melinus’, is one of the most common butterflies in North America, and South Carolina is no exception.

Gray Hairstreak butterfly

  • Habitat: They primarily inhabit open spaces such as fields, gardens, and roadsides.
  • Appearance: These butterflies are easy to identify thanks to their gray color and the two tail-like extensions on their rear wings, giving an illusion of antennae.
  • Size: The wingspan of a typical Gray Hairstreak ranges from 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm).
  • Diet: They feed on nectar from various flower species including milkweed and mint.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on flowers or buds of the host plant.
  • Lifespan: While the adult’s lifespan is short, the entire cycle from egg to adult can be completed in about a month.
  • Host Plants: Their larvae feed on a wide variety of host plants, with a preference for legumes and mallows.

The Gray Hairstreak is a fascinating butterfly and is a pleasure to watch fluttering about in the South Carolina sunshine.

Bronze Copper (Lycaena hyllus)

The Bronze Copper, scientifically known as Lycaena hyllus, is a phenomenally beautiful butterfly species that decorates the landscapes of South Carolina.

Bronze Copper butterfly

Let’s delve into the captivating details about this species:

  • Habitat: The Bronze Copper thrives in moist areas near water bodies, highlighting wet meadows and marshes as their preferred habitats.
  • Appearance: True to its name, the Bronze Copper exhibits gloriously bronze underwing patterns with intricate designs and orange edges.
  • Size: Being a relatively small species, adults often have a wingspan of 1.25-1.75 inches (31.75-44.45 millimeters).
  • Diet: Adult Bronze Coppers are keen nectar feeders, often favoring flowers like dogbanes and milkweeds.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the underside of host plant leaves, contributing to the next generation of Bronze Coppers.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about a week, ensuring to mate and lay eggs within this short yet impactful lifespan.
  • Host Plants: Curled Dock and other related species play an integral role as the host plants for this gorgeous butterfly.

It’s expressive, captivating, and essential to South Carolina’s diverse ecosystem.

Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta)

The Summer Azure, scientifically labeled as Celastrina neglecta, is one of the most commonly seen butterflies in South Carolina.

Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta)

And now, let’s review some of this delicate butterfly’s features:

  • Habitat: They prefer open deciduous and evergreen forests, urban parks, and backyard gardens.
  • Appearance: This species often exhibits a beautiful shade of blue on the upper side of the wings, while the undersides are pale blue.
  • Size: The wingspan can reach up to 1.25 to 1.75 inches (3.2 to 4.5 cm) wide.
  • Diet: Nectar from a variety of flowers is their main food source, although tree sap and dew are also part of the menu.
  • Reproduction: A fertile female can lay hundreds of tiny, green eggs, which soon develop into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: As an adult, the butterfly typically lives for one to two weeks.
  • Host Plants: They often rely on plants like Dogbane, Black Cherry, and Alfalfa for their larvae to feed on.

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

The Orange Sulphur is a fascinating butterfly species that thrives in South Carolina.

Orange Sulphur butterfly

  • Habitat: They frequently inhabit areas with an abundance of alfalfa, clover fields, and meadows.
  • Appearance: Showcasing a stunning bright orange upper side with black bordering. The underside, however, is yellow or greenish for winter forms.
  • Size: With a wingspan of about 1.3 to 2.2 inches (3.3 to 5.6 cm), they are quite noticeable.
  • Diet: Their diet mainly consists of nectar from many types of flowers like clovers, milkweeds, and asters.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on host plant leaves, mainly alfalfa or white clover.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan is around one month in the wild.
  • Host Plants: Alfalfa and white clover serve as their primary host plants, where females lay eggs, and caterpillars feed and grow.

For nature enthusiasts, spotting an Orange Sulphur is indeed a delightful experience.

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

The Pipevine Swallowtail is a strikingly beautiful species, a delight to encounter.

Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly

Let’s explore the specifics of these fascinating creatures:

  • Habitat: Primarily found in woodlands and fields, with a preference for areas abundant in pipevine plants.
  • Appearance: Characterized by their stunning black wings with a striking iridescent blue or green sheen. White spots grace the edges of their wings.
  • Size: One of the larger species, with a wingspan ranging from 2.8-5 inches (7-13 cm).
  • Diet: Primarily nectar from flowers, with preferences for thistles, honeysuckle and milkweed.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the underside of pipevine leaves, which become the caterpillar’s source of food upon hatching.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterfly lives for about one month, while the entire lifecycle spans about two months.
  • Host Plants: Various species of pipevines serve as their host plants, providing nourishment for the caterpillars.

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

Cloudless Sulphur is a fascinating butterfly species you can find in South Carolina. It introduces a unique charm to the environment.

cloudless sulphur butterfly

  • Habitat: These butterflies prefer open, sunny areas. They can be seen in gardens, meadows, and roadsides.
  • Appearance: They are bright yellow or greenish-white. Females may sometimes appear white. They have tiny black spots on the dorsal forewing.
  • Size: They are medium-sized butterflies. Wingspan ranges from 2.25 to 3.125 inches (5.7-7.9 cm).
  • Diet: They are known to feed on flower nectar, favoring red and pink flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single, round, white eggs on the host plants.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan is a few weeks, though some overwinter as adults in Florida.
  • Host Plants: They host on plants from the pea family, such as Senna and Partridge Pea. The caterpillars have a green body with yellow lines.

These butterflies enhance the beauty of South Carolina. Their presence undoubtedly contributes to the ecological balance.

Cofaqui Giant-Skipper (Megathymus cofaqui)

The Cofaqui Giant-Skipper is among the final species on our South-Carolina butterfly tour. This unique butterfly is one to behold due to its peculiar characteristics.

55 Cofaqui Giant-Skipper F Megathymus cofaqui slotteni 09-12-10 Simmons S.F. Nassau Co. Fl.

  • Habitat: They typically inhabit desert and scrub regions. You can often find them in sandhills and scrubby flatwoods.
  • Appearance: The Cofaqui Giant-Skipper’s distinctive dark brown coloration, illuminated by a variable pattern of white spots and dashes, truly sets it apart.
  • Size: With a wingspan reaching between 54 to 70 mm, it’s quite a sizable butterfly.
  • Diet: The adult butterflies feed on flower nectar while their caterpillars feast on agave leaves.
  • Reproduction: These butterflies lay their eggs in the host plants, which are primarily various species of Agave.
  • Lifespan: Adult Cofaqui Giant-Skippers live for about a week.
  • Host Plants: Host plants include Soap-tree Yucca (Yucca elata) and various types of Agave.


Your journey through the nuanced world of South Carolina’s butterflies has now come to an end.

Possessing such a rich diversity of butterfly species, from Clouded Sulphurs to Cofaqui Giant-Skippers, certainly invites a wave of awe and appreciation.

Feel free to share your thoughts, or perhaps personal encounters with these delightful creatures in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you.

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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