30 Butterfly Species in Switzerland

Switzerland is not only famous for its stunning landscapes but also for its diverse and colorful butterfly species.

With over 30 different types of butterflies fluttering around, it’s no surprise that Switzerland is a paradise for nature enthusiasts.

In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the most beautiful and interesting butterfly species found in this picturesque country.

Small White (Pieris rapae)

The Small White, also known as the Cabbage White, is a common butterfly species in Switzerland.

Small White butterfly

These butterflies can be found fluttering around meadows, gardens, and other green spaces.

Let’s dive deeper into their characteristics:

  • Habitat: They thrive in open grasslands, farmlands, gardens, and various urban areas.
  • Appearance: Small White butterflies have off-white wings with black tips on their forewings, while females have two black spots.
  • Size: They measure about 40-50 mm in wingspan, making them noticeably smaller than their cousin, the Large White.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from various flowers, while their caterpillars munch on plants, mainly from the Brassicaceae family.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single, pale yellow eggs on the leaf’s underside, which hatch into caterpillars after around a week.
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies live for roughly two weeks in the wild, just enough time to reproduce and lay eggs.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars feed on cabbage, turnip, and other plants from the Brassicaceae family, which earned them the nickname “Cabbage White.”

Now that you’ve learned about the Small White, let’s discover more fascinating butterfly species that you can find in Switzerland.

Large White (Pieris brassicae)

The Large White, also known as the cabbage butterfly, is a common and widespread species in Switzerland.

Large White butterfly

This butterfly has a relatively simple lifestyle, but its destructive nature to crops and vegetables make it famous among farmers and gardeners.

Let’s dive into understanding this butterfly:

  • Habitat: Found in a variety of environments, including gardens, farmlands, wastelands, open woodlands, and meadows. They are adaptable to different surroundings, making them quite prevalent in Switzerland.
  • Appearance: Characterized by its white wings with black tips on the forewings and some black spots on the upper wings. The underwings have a pale yellowish tint.
  • Size: One of the larger butterfly species, with a wingspan ranging from 50 to 70 mm.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies primarily feed on nectar from flowers such as thistles, knapweeds, and buddleia.
  • Reproduction: Females lay clusters of yellowish, barrel-shaped eggs on host plants’ leaves, mainly from May to October.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about two to three weeks, while the entire life cycle, from egg to adult, takes roughly six weeks.
  • Host Plants: Mainly feed on brassica plants like cabbage, kale, and broccoli, but can also be found on nasturtium and other plants in the mustard family.

Green-veined White (Pieris napi)

The Green-veined White is a fascinating butterfly species you can encounter in Switzerland.

Green-veined White butterfly

It is a common and widespread species, making it a delight for butterfly enthusiasts.

Here are some interesting facts about the Green-veined White:

  • Habitat: Prefers damp grasslands, meadows, gardens, and woodland clearings.
  • Appearance: White wings with prominent green veins on the underside, creating a beautiful pattern.
  • Size: Wingspan ranges from 40 to 50 millimeters.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on nectar from various flowers such as dandelions, bluebells, and buttercups.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs individually on the undersides of leaves, producing one or two generations per year.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about three weeks in the wild.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars feed on various cruciferous plants, such as wild cabbage, mustard, and cuckooflower.

Keep an eye out for these captivating butterflies during your next outdoor adventure in Switzerland! The Green-veined White is a remarkable example of the country’s diverse butterfly population.

Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines)

The Orange-tip butterfly is a charming species that you can find in Switzerland.

Orange-tip Butterfly

This butterfly isn’t only eye-catching but also quite fascinating.

Let’s delve into some fascinating facts about this beautiful species.

  • Habitat: Orange-tip butterflies favor damp habitats such as meadows, riverbanks, woodlands, and gardens. They are widespread across the country and often fly close to the ground.
  • Appearance: Males possess white wings with a bright orange tip, while females are white with black wing tips. Both genders have greenish-marbled undersides.
  • Size: With a wingspan of 40-52mm, these butterflies are small to medium-sized.
  • Diet: Their diet mainly consists of nectar from flowers like cuckooflower, garlic mustard, and other cruciferous plants.
  • Reproduction: Mating occurs in the spring, and you can often spot coupled butterflies flying around. The females lay single eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: Orange-tip butterflies typically live for 3-4 weeks as adults, from April to June.
  • Host Plants: They lay their eggs on various plants from the mustard family (Brassicaceae), such as cuckooflower and garlic mustard.

Now that you’re familiar with the enticing Orange-tip butterfly, keep a lookout for these beauties next time you’re exploring the Swiss countryside.

Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)

The Brimstone, a fascinating butterfly species found throughout Switzerland, is known for its unique characteristics and captivating appearance.

Brimstone Butterfly

Here’s everything you need to know about this beautiful insect:

  • Habitat: Brimstones reside in various habitats, including open woodlands, marshes, meadows, and even gardens.
  • Appearance: Sporting a vibrant yellow color, this butterfly often resembles a lemon in shape, which helps it camouflage within foliage.
  • Size: Brimstones typically have a wingspan of 50-60 mm, with slight size differences between genders.
  • Diet: Adult Brimstone butterflies mainly feed on nectar from flowers like purple loosestrife, lilacs, and thistles.
  • Reproduction: Male Brimstones engage in an aerial courtship, during which females lay their eggs on young buckthorn leaves.
  • Lifespan: These butterflies have a relatively long lifespan, reaching up to 13 months.
  • Host Plants: Buckthorns (Rhamnus) and Alder Buckthorns (Frangula) are the primary host plants for Brimstone larvae, providing the necessary nutrients for growth.

The Brimstone butterfly is a unique and colorful addition to Switzerland’s diverse butterfly population.

Their striking appearance and fascinating life cycle make them a captivating species to observe and study.

So next time you’re out in nature, be sure to keep an eye out for these vibrant yellow butterflies!

Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus)

One fascinating butterfly species you can come across in Switzerland is the Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus), known for its beautiful and distinctive bright yellow wings.

Clouded Yellow butterfly

Originating from North Africa and the Mediterranean region, these butterflies can often be seen flying throughout Switzerland during the migration season.

Some interesting facts about the Clouded Yellow include:

  • Habitat: Generally found in open grasslands, meadows, fields, and along woodland edges.
  • Appearance: Bright yellow or orange-yellow wings with dark-colored borders; females may have lighter markings and fewer dark areas.
  • Size: Wingspan ranges from 46 to 52 mm, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from various flowers, such as clover and thistles, while the caterpillars munch on plants from the pea family like alfalfa.
  • Reproduction: Females lay singular eggs on host plants, producing caterpillars within a week, which then feast on the plants until pupating.
  • Lifespan: Adult Clouded Yellows typically live for around 20 days.
  • Host Plants: Besides alfalfa, other host plants include clover and tall vetch, with caterpillars often camouflaging themselves due to their green coloration.

Spotting a Clouded Yellow in Switzerland is truly a remarkable experience, as its vibrant colors brighten up any open space.

The sheer beauty of this butterfly makes it captivating and memorable in the Swiss landscape.

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)

The Common Blue is a captivating butterfly species that you’ll often encounter across Switzerland. This vibrant, tiny butterfly is likely to attract your attention with its vivid colors.

Common Blue butterfly

So let’s discover more about the charming Common Blue:

  • Habitat: You’ll find this species in various habitats, from meadows and grasslands to woodland clearings and hedgerows.
  • Appearance: Males boast a bright, iridescent blue color on their upper wings with a white fringe, while females have brown upper wings with a blue tint and orange crescents.
  • Size: With a wingspan of 35-45mm, the Common Blue is reasonably small in size.
  • Diet: Adults primarily feed on nectar from flowers such as clover, trefoil, and knapweeds.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs singly on the underside of host plant leaves, typically from late spring to summer.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for around two weeks, and there are often two broods per year in Switzerland.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars feed on leguminous plants, like clover and trefoil.

The Common Blue is an enchanting species that you’d love to spot on a walk through the Swiss countryside.

Keep an eye out for their stunning colors, and you just might be lucky enough to encounter one.

Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus)

The Holly Blue butterfly, scientifically known as Celastrina argiolus, is a fascinating species that can be spotted in various locations across Switzerland.

Holly Blue butterfly

With its vibrant blue wings and distinctive appearance, this enchanting creature is sure to catch your eye on your next nature hike.

Here’s more about this charming species:

  • Habitat: Holly Blues are commonly found in hedgerows, woodland edges, and gardens in Switzerland, often in close proximity to their host plants.
  • Appearance: The species boasts bright blue upper wings with dark wing margins and a white fringe, whereas the underside of the wings displays a pale silver-blue hue with small black spots.
  • Size: The wingspan of the Holly Blue ranges between 27 and 34 millimeters, with females being slightly larger than males.
  • Diet: Although adults mainly feed on flowering plants such as ivy, they will also enjoy honeydew excreted by aphids.
  • Reproduction: Mating occurs in spring, and females lay their eggs on the flowers of various plants from which the caterpillars later feed.
  • Lifespan: Holly Blue butterflies have a life expectancy of about 1-2 months as adults.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed on a wide variety of plants, including holly, ivy, spindle, and dogwood, which all grow abundantly across Switzerland.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

The Red Admiral is a striking, easily recognizable butterfly species found in Switzerland, and it should definitely be on your list of butterflies to spot.

red-admiral butterfly

This versatile species can be found in various habitats and is known for its migratory nature.

Here’s a quick overview of the Red Admiral:

  • Habitat: Gardens, hedgerows, woodlands, and meadows, making it easy to encounter in different environments.
  • Appearance: The wings are predominantly black, with beautiful red bands and white spots decorating the upper wings.
  • Size: Average wingspan of 50-60mm, making them a noticeable presence when they take flight.
  • Diet: Prefers to feed on nectar from various flowers, like Buddleia and Ivy, as well as overripe fruits.
  • Reproduction: The female lays eggs individually on the leaves of host plants, and the process repeats in multiple generations per year.
  • Lifespan: Adults generally live for a few weeks, which is typical for most butterfly species.
  • Host Plants: Nettle (Urtica dioica) and Pellitory-of-the-wall (Parietaria officinalis) are the primary host plants for the Red Admiral caterpillars.

With its unique appearance and adaptability, the Red Admiral is a fascinating butterfly species you’d enjoy observing in Switzerland.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

The Painted Lady is a vibrant and fascinating butterfly species commonly found in Switzerland.

painted lady butterfly

You can easily spot them fluttering about during the warmer months, adding a dash of color and life to the environment around them.

Take a moment to learn more about this captivating creature:

  • Habitat: Painted Ladies can thrive in various habitats, including: gardens, meadows, and even mountainous regions.
  • Appearance: These butterflies display an intricate pattern of orange, black, and white on their wings, with a striking eyespot on the tip of the forewings.
  • Size: The average wingspan of the Painted Lady ranges from 5 to 9 centimeters.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on nectar from a variety of flowers, including thistles and marjoram, while the caterpillars feed mainly on thistles and nettles.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on the leaves of host plants, up to 500 eggs during their entire lifespan.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live 2-4 weeks in the wild, depending on the availability of nectar and other environmental factors.
  • Host Plants: Thistles and nettles are the primary host plants for Painted Lady caterpillars, providing sustenance and a place to grow and transform into beautiful butterflies.

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)

The Small Tortoiseshell is a delightful and colorful butterfly that is native to Switzerland.

Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

Its vibrant appearance and interesting behavior make it an alluring sight for nature enthusiasts and butterfly lovers alike.

Here are some facts about the Small Tortoiseshell:

  • Habitat: This butterfly can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including gardens, meadows, and woodland edges.
  • Appearance: Sporting a striking combination of black, orange, and yellow wings, the Small Tortoiseshell also features blue spots near the edges of its wings.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 45-62mm, it is considered a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Adult Small Tortoiseshells mainly feed on nectar from flowers, such as dandelions, thistles, and buddleias.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the leaves of their host plants, typically underground and in clusters.
  • Lifespan: An adult Small Tortoiseshell can live for around 3-4 weeks, depending on the availability of food and weather conditions.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plant for the Small Tortoiseshell is the common nettle (Urtica dioica), which provides its caterpillars with the food they need to grow and develop.

Peacock Butterfly (Aglais io)

The Peacock (Aglais io) is a stunning, eye-catching butterfly species found in Switzerland, instantly recognizable by its colorful pattern of eye-spots on the wings.

Peacock Butterfly

Below, I describe its characteristics in more detail:

  • Habitat: Peacock butterflies are highly adaptable species, flourishing in various habitats like gardens, woodlands, hedgerows, and meadows. During winter, they hibernate in dark and cool hiding places like tree cavities or sheds.
  • Appearance: The wings showcase an intricate pattern: red on the top with large, colorful eye-spots designed to deter predators and provide camouflage. Their underside mimics dead leaves for an added layer of disguise during hibernation.
  • Size: With a wingspan of 50-70mm, the Peacock is considered a medium-sized butterfly – allowing for impressive flight and mobility when active.
  • Diet: Adult Peacock butterflies feed on nectar from various flowering plants like buddleia, thistles, and dandelions.
  • Reproduction: Mating takes place in early spring, with females laying eggs on nettle leaves – their primary host plant. Caterpillars emerge within a week or two and go on to form a communal web, helping them stay warm and minimize predation risks.
  • Lifespan: Adults can live up to 11 months, with hibernation extending their lives for overwintering.
  • Host Plants: Nettles are their predominant breeding ground, a simple and nutritious habitat for the development of eggs and caterpillars.

Comma Butterfly (Polygonia c-album)

The Comma is an intriguing butterfly species that you can find in Switzerland. This unique butterfly gets its name from the distinctive comma-shaped mark on its underwing.

Comma Butterfly

Here are some fascinating facts about the Comma butterfly:

  • Habitat: You’ll often see them in woodland clearings, gardens, hedgerows, and other areas with plenty of flowering plants for them to nectar on.
  • Appearance: The upperside of their wings is a vibrant orange-brown with black markings, while the underside is mottled brown and gray with that distinctive comma-shaped mark.
  • Size: Commas are medium-sized butterflies, with a wingspan of around 45 to 55 mm.
  • Diet: They feed on flower nectar, favoring flowers like buddleia and thistles, and overripe fruit in the late summer and early autumn.
  • Reproduction: Female Commas lay eggs on the host plant, typically stinging nettles and hops. The caterpillars will hatch and feast on the plant, eventually forming the chrysalis.
  • Lifespan: Adult Commas live for around two to four weeks, while their full life cycle, from egg to death, takes about a year.
  • Host Plants: Stinging nettles and hops are primary host plants, but they can also use elm, currant, and willow.

Swallowtail (Papilio machaon)

Swallowtail butterflies are among the most striking species found in Switzerland.

Swallowtail Butterfly

They go by the scientific name of Papilio machaon and are cherished species in European countries.

Here, let’s discuss more about this fascinating butterfly:

  • Habitat: Swallowtails live primarily in open areas of woodland, meadows, and grasslands. They also inhabit marshes and river valleys.
  • Appearance: This butterfly showcases vibrant colors, having a striking yellow base adorned with black markings. The ‘tails’ on their hind wings closely resemble a swallow’s tail.
  • Size: Swallowtails are relatively large, with a wingspan ranging from 65 to 80 millimeters.
  • Diet: Adult swallowtails feed on nectar from various plants such as wild carrot and thistle.
  • Reproduction: Female swallowtails lay single eggs on the leaves of host plants. The eggs hatch into caterpillars, which later pupate into their adult form.
  • Lifespan: The adult swallowtail has a lifespan of about 25-30 days.
  • Host Plants: Swallowtails prefer plants from the Apiaceae family like fennel, dill, and carrot for their caterpillars to feed on.

Switzerland is home to the gorgeous swallowtail butterfly, contributing to the country’s rich biodiversity.

Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius)

The Scarce Swallowtail, also known as Iphiclides podalirius, is a fascinating butterfly species to look out for in Switzerland.

scarce swallowtail butterfly

Here’s some more information about these captivating insects:

  • Habitat: Typically found in warm, open woodlands and meadows; they prefer sunlit environments.
  • Appearance: Distinguished by their white or cream-colored wings with black stripes, and long, curved tails that resemble a swallow’s tail.
  • Size: Their wingspan ranges from 65 to 80 millimeters, making them one of the larger butterflies in Switzerland.
  • Diet: As adults, they feed on the nectar of various flowers; as caterpillars, they feed on the leaves of host plants.
  • Reproduction: These butterflies lay their eggs singly on the leaves of host plants, and the caterpillars emerge within a few days.
  • Lifespan: Adult Scarce Swallowtails live for approximately one month during the summer season.
  • Host Plants: They typically lay their eggs on pear, cherry, and almond trees.

Keep an eye out for these beautiful butterflies during warm, sunny days. They are sure to leave you in awe of their grace and elegance.

High Brown Fritillary (Fabriciana adippe)

The High Brown Fritillary is a beautiful butterfly species found in Switzerland.

High Brown Fritillary butterfly

These butterflies are known for their striking patterns and rapid flight that make them a sight to behold.

Let’s learn more about them:

  • Habitat: They prefer warm, open habitats such as grasslands, heathlands, and woodland clearings where their host plants thrive.
  • Appearance: The upper wings showcase a vibrant orange color with black spots and markings, while the underside is adorned with a complex pattern of white, orange, and black.
  • Size: The wingspan of this butterfly ranges from 50 to 64 millimeters, making it one of the largest fritillaries in Switzerland.
  • Diet: The adult High Brown Fritillary primarily feeds on nectar from flowers such as knapweed, thistles, and bramble.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the violet leaves, which serve as a host plant for the caterpillars. The eggs hatch in about a week and the caterpillars grow through several stages before pupating.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterfly’s lifespan is approximately one month, during which they mate and lay eggs.
  • Host Plants: As mentioned earlier, violet plants act as the primary host plant for High Brown Fritillary’s caterpillars, specifically common dog-violet and heath dog-violet.

Glanville Fritillary (Melitaea cinxia)

The Glanville Fritillary is a fascinating butterfly species, primarily found in the central and southern parts of Switzerland.

Glanville Fritillary

They are known for their bold and striking patterns on their wings, making them easily distinguishable from other species.

Let’s take a closer look at some aspects of this beautiful butterfly:

  • Habitat: Glanville Fritillary thrives in open habitats such as grasslands, meadows, and sand dunes.
  • Appearance: This butterfly has orange and brown patterned wings, with cream-white borders and rows of black spots.
  • Size: Adult wingspan ranges from 35-45mm, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: Adults typically feed on nectar from a variety of flowers, particularly those of the daisy family.
  • Reproduction: Female butterflies lay their eggs on host plants, and the resulting caterpillars feed on the plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: The adult stage usually lasts for 1-3 weeks, while the full life cycle from egg to adult spans around 2 months.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plant for this species is Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), but caterpillars are also known to feed on other Plantago species.

The Glanville Fritillary is a stunning butterfly species that adds color and beauty to Switzerland’s diverse ecosystem.

Heath Fritillary (Melitaea athalia)

The Heath Fritillary is a fascinating butterfly species you can find in Switzerland.

Heath Fritillary butterfly

These elusive creatures are highly sought after by butterfly enthusiasts, and observing them up close is truly a remarkable experience.

Let’s dig into the specifics of this beautiful butterfly:

  • Habitat: Heath Fritillaries prefer humid meadows, moorland, and forest clearings. They can typically be found flying low to the ground around their host plants.
  • Appearance: These butterflies boast a distinct checkerboard pattern on their upper wings, with warm shades of orange and brown. The undersides have a more muted coloration, with intricate patterns and white markings.
  • Size: Heath Fritillaries have a wingspan of around 36-46 millimeters, making them a medium-sized butterfly species.
  • Diet: The adults feed primarily on nectar from a variety of flowering plants, such as thistles and bugle.
  • Reproduction: Males patrol their territories in search of females, with mating occurring in late spring and early summer. Females then lay their eggs on the host plants in clusters.
  • Lifespan: The life cycle of the Heath Fritillary typically lasts around one year, with the adult butterflies living for around two weeks.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars of this species feed on various plants, mainly cow-wheat, violet, and devil’s bit scabious.

Now that you know more about the Heath Fritillary, keep an eye out for these fascinating creatures during your next Swiss adventure!

Marbled White (Melanargia galathea)

The Marbled White butterfly is an exquisite species frequently found in grassy areas across Switzerland.

Marbled White Butterfly

Although it might be mistaken for a white butterfly, it is actually a member of the brown butterfly family.

Enjoy observing these remarkable butterflies while learning some fascinating facts about them:

  • Habitat: Grassy meadows, railway cuttings, and on the edges of woodland clearings.
  • Appearance: Black and white patterned wings with faint greenish tinges, creating a marbled effect.
  • Size: Medium, with a wingspan ranging from 38 to 48 mm.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from various flowers, particularly wild scabious and purple knapweed.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on or near the host plants, and the caterpillars hatch in late summer, overwintering as half-grown larvae.
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies live for around three weeks, depending on environmental conditions.
  • Host Plants: Mainly red fescue (Festuca rubra) and sheep’s fescue (Festuca ovina), as well as other grass species for the caterpillars to feed on.

Next time you spot one of these delightful Marbled White butterflies, take a moment to appreciate the intricate patterns decorating each wing.

Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)

Welcome to the world of the Speckled Wood butterfly! A beautiful species that can be found in Switzerland, among many other locations.

Speckled Wood butterfly

This butterfly has some fascinating characteristics that make it stand out from the rest:

  • Habitat: It prefers dense, dappled shade in areas like gardens, woodlands, and hedgerows. It can also be found along forest edges and other partially shaded spots.
  • Appearance: As the name suggests, it has a beautiful pattern of cream and brown speckles on its wings, with a series of white-ringed dark spots.
  • Size: Its wingspan ranges from 40 to 50 millimeters, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: The adults mainly feed on aphid honeydew, nectar from various flowers, and sometimes even tree sap.
  • Reproduction: To mate, males patrol their territory and wait for females to enter. Females lay eggs on grass blades, and the caterpillars that hatch feed on specific grass species.
  • Lifespan: Adults generally live for about a month, while the caterpillars go through a developmental period lasting around 45 days.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars exclusively feed on grasses such as Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus), common couch (Elymus repens), and false brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum).

So, next time you’re in Switzerland, keep an eye out for the charming Speckled Wood butterfly dancing through the dappled shade.

Wall Brown (Lasiommata megera)

Wall Brown is an attractive butterfly species that can be observed in various regions across Switzerland.

Wall Brown Butterfly

This fascinating species is known for its ability to adapt to different environments and is especially found in grasslands, woodland clearings, and rocky areas.

Below, you’ll find some key aspects about this particular butterfly.

  • Habitat: Grasslands, woodland clearings, and rocky areas
  • Appearance: Brown wings with orange patches and dark eye-shaped markings towards the tip of the forewings
  • Size: Wingspan of 4-5 cm
  • Diet: Wall Brown caterpillars primarily feed on grasses, while adult butterflies feed on nectar from various flowers such as daisies and thistles
  • Reproduction: Adult females lay eggs individually on grass stems during May and June, giving rise to a new generation of caterpillars that develop further in July and August
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies have a short lifespan of a few weeks
  • Host Plants: Primarily grass species such as brome, fescue, and meadow grass

As you explore the diverse world of Swiss butterflies, make sure to keep an eye out for the Wall Brown, a species that thrives in varying habitats and contributes to the vibrant colors of Switzerland’s insect life.

Purple Emperor (Apatura iris)

When you spot a Purple Emperor, you’ll immediately notice its stunning appearance.

Purple Emperor Butterfly

This butterfly species is quite magnificent and can be found in Switzerland forests.

Let’s explore some fascinating facts about the Purple Emperor:

  • Habitat: They mostly live in deciduous or mixed woodlands, with a preference for those with oak trees.
  • Appearance: The males flaunt a beautiful, iridescent purple sheen on their wings, while females are more brown with white markings.
  • Size: Adults have a wingspan between 65-75mm, making them one of the larger butterfly species in Switzerland.
  • Diet: They feed on tree sap, honeydew, animal droppings, and occasionally rotting fruit. They rarely visit flowers.
  • Reproduction: Female Purple Emperors lay single eggs on the leaves of host plants, and these eggs hatch into caterpillars after approximately 10 days.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live for around three weeks during the summer months of June to August.
  • Host Plants: The primary host plant for their larvae is the goat willow (Salix caprea), but other species of willows and poplars can also be used.

With their fascinating appearance and interesting habits, the Purple Emperor is a spectacular butterfly species to observe in Swiss woodlands during the summer.

Lesser Purple Emperor (Apatura ilia)

The Lesser Purple Emperor, also known as Apatura ilia, is a fascinating butterfly species that you may encounter in Switzerland.

Lesser Purple Emperor Butterfly

With its intriguing life cycle and unique features, this butterfly is sure to capture your attention.

Let’s take a closer look at some key aspects of the Lesser Purple Emperor:

  • Habitat: Typically found in deciduous forests, wetlands, and river valleys; it prefers areas with a mix of tree species, such as oak, willow, and poplar.
  • Appearance: The male displays a beautiful purple iridescence on its upper wing surface, whereas the female has brownish wings with white spots and brownish-orange bands on the hindwings.
  • Size: The wingspan ranges from 65 to 75 mm, making it a medium-sized butterfly.
  • Diet: As adults, they primarily feed on tree sap, rotting fruit, and even animal dung. Caterpillars feed on the leaves of host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on the leaves of host plants. The caterpillars then hatch and feed on the leaves until they pupate, forming a chrysalis to transform into an adult butterfly.
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies live for about two to three weeks, flying between June and August.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars feed on the leaves of willow (Salix spp.), poplar (Populus spp.), and occasionally oak (Quercus spp.) trees.

The Lesser Purple Emperor is a delightful butterfly species with a captivating appearance and intriguing life cycle.

If you are lucky enough to spot one in Switzerland, take some time to appreciate its beauty and the complex ecosystem it inhabits.

White Admiral (Limenitis camilla)

The White Admiral is a fascinating butterfly species commonly found in Switzerland.

White Admiral butterfly

It’s known for its unique appearance and behavior which sets it apart from other species.

Below are some key features of the White Admiral:

  • Habitat: This butterfly mostly inhabits woodland areas, especially those with broadleaved trees such as oak and willow.
  • Appearance: The White Admiral has a beautiful combination of black and white stripes on its wings, with a row of blue spots near the margins.
  • Size: The wingspan of a White Admiral butterfly ranges between 40 and 50mm, making it an average-sized species of butterfly.
  • Diet: In its adult form, the White Admiral primarily feeds on nectar from flowers like bramble and thistles.
  • Reproduction: This species has one generation per year, with eggs laid on the underside of leaves, usually on the host plants. They typically hatch within 10-20 days.
  • Lifespan: The adult White Admiral has a short lifespan of around 3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: The main host plants for the White Admiral caterpillar are honeysuckle and dogwood, where they feed on the leaves before pupating.

The White Admiral is definitely an impressive butterfly species you can encounter while exploring the Swiss woodlands.

Make sure to keep an eye out for its striking black, white, and blue appearance!

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

The Small Copper is a captivating butterfly species that can be found in Switzerland.

Small Copper butterfly

This delightful little creature is known for its vibrant colors and swift flights, adding a touch of liveliness to the Swiss countryside.

Here’s all you need to know about the Small Copper:

  • Habitat: These butterflies prefer sunny, open spaces such as grasslands, meadows, heathlands, and even urban gardens.
  • Appearance: Small Coppers have striking orange wings with black spots and borders, creating a beautiful contrast. Additionally, their hind wings feature a row of delicate blue spots.
  • Size: They are quite small, with a wingspan that ranges from 22 to 27 millimeters.
  • Diet: Adult Small Coppers feed on nectar from various flowers, specifically looking for vibrant, colorful blooms.
  • Reproduction: Males are territorial and actively seek out females for mating. Females lay single eggs on host plants, often on leaves or flower buds.
  • Lifespan: The Small Copper has a lifespan of approximately 3 to 4 weeks as an adult butterfly.
  • Host Plants: They primarily use common sorrel and sheep’s sorrel, where their larvae feed on the leaves before undergoing metamorphosis.

Sooty Copper (Lycaena tityrus)

The Sooty Copper is a fascinating butterfly species native to Switzerland. This little marvel can be seen fluttering in various habitats, adding beauty and grace to the Swiss landscape.

Sooty Copper butterfly

Here’s a quick look at some of the key characteristics of the Sooty Copper:

  • Habitat: Prefers grasslands, meadows, and woodland glades; thrives best in relatively undisturbed areas.
  • Appearance: Males exhibit dark brown wings with iridescent purplish-blue scaling, while females are slightly lighter brown with orange spots on their hind wings.
  • Size: Wingspan ranges between 28 to 32 millimeters, making it a moderately small butterfly species.
  • Diet: Adults have a preference for nectar-producing plants, such as thistles, knapweeds, and wild marjoram.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on host plants; caterpillars then feed on developing plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults have a relatively short life, typically living for just two to three weeks.
  • Host Plants: The main host plant for Sooty Copper larvae is sorrel, particularly sheep’s sorrel (Rumex acetosella) and, occasionally, common sorrel (Rumex acetosa).

This butterfly species is a delight to spot in the Swiss countryside and helps support the delicate balance of local ecosystems.

Purple-shot Copper (Lycaena alciphron)

Purple-shot Copper is a mesmerizing butterfly species you’re likely to encounter in Switzerland.

Purple-shot Copper butterfly

This stunning creature is part of the Lycaenidae family, which comprises over 6,000 species of butterflies worldwide.

Let’s dive into the distinctive features of the Purple-shot Copper:

  • Habitat: Usually found in grasslands, meadows, and woodland clearings, Purple-shot Coppers prefer warm and sunny environments with plenty of flowering plants.
  • Appearance: Sporting a striking mix of copper-orange and purple hues, the wings of this butterfly are adorned with dark brown edges and distinct white spots. Males display a vibrant purple sheen.
  • Size: It has a wingspan of 30-38 millimeters, making it an average-sized butterfly in its family.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies primarily feed on nectar from flowers like thistles, knapweeds, and scabious, providing them with the necessary nutrients and energy.
  • Reproduction: Female butterflies lay their eggs on the host plants, which the caterpillars will later consume for sustenance.
  • Lifespan: Adult Purple-shot Coppers have a short life – they typically live for about three weeks.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed on plants like Rumex acetosella (sheep’s sorrel) and Rumex acetosa (common sorrel), which provide them with essential nutrients for growth and development.

With such remarkable characteristics, it’s no wonder that the Purple-shot Copper is a cherished member of Switzerland’s butterfly kingdom.

Woodland Ringlet (Erebia medusa)

The Woodland Ringlet is a fascinating butterfly species that you can encounter in Switzerland.

Woodland Ringlet butterfly

As a nature enthusiast, you’ll find this butterfly captivating due to its distinct features and habitats.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the characteristics of the Woodland Ringlet.

  • Habitat: Generally found in damp, grassy areas within deciduous or mixed forests, and up to 2,000 meters above sea level in some places.
  • Appearance: Sporting dark brown wings with small orange spots, Woodland Ringlets possess a subtle elegance.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging from 30 to 36 millimeters, these butterflies are fairly small in size.
  • Diet: Adult Woodland Ringlets mainly feed on flower nectar, while their caterpillars feast on various grasses.
  • Reproduction: Mating takes place from June to August, followed by females laying eggs on grass blades.
  • Lifespan: The adult butterflies have a brief lifespan of around two weeks, seemingly living life in fast-forward.
  • Host Plants: Sheep’s Fescue (Festuca ovina) and Tufted Hair-grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) are two primary host plants for the Woodland Ringlet caterpillars.

In Switzerland, the Woodland Ringlet offers a glimpse of the country’s rich and diverse butterfly fauna.

Their delicate beauty and unique habitats make them a true gem among Swiss butterflies.

Mountain Ringlet (Erebia epiphron)

The Mountain Ringlet is a fascinating butterfly species that can be found in Switzerland.

Mountain Ringlet butterfly

This unique insect thrives in a different setting compared to other butterflies, and it is worth learning more about their characteristics.

Here are some important details about the Mountain Ringlet:

  • Habitat: Found in alpine meadows at elevations of 1400-2500 meters.
  • Appearance: Brown wings with a small orbicular mark and a black streak on the forewing, fringes are pale with a dusting of gray-brown.
  • Size: Wingspan of 34-42 millimeters.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from flowering plants, such as Kidney Vetch and Alpine Rock-Rose.
  • Reproduction: Mating occurs in June when females lay eggs on the host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for only one to two weeks.
  • Host Plants: Larvae feed on various Gramineae species, like native grasses and sedges.

As you trek through the Swiss Alps, keep an eye out for the Mountain Ringlet – a true alpine dweller in the world of butterflies.

Their adaptability to thrive in higher elevations makes them a unique part of Switzerland’s natural beauty.

Almond-eyed Ringlet (Erebia alberganus)

The Almond-eyed Ringlet is a fascinating butterfly species that can be found in Switzerland.

'Almond-eyed Ringlet' (Erebia alberganus)

Often seen flying in the beautiful Swiss landscapes, this butterfly never fails to amaze with its unique and eye-catching features.

Let’s dive into some specifics about this incredible species:

  • Habitat: The Almond-eyed Ringlet is usually found in alpine and subalpine grasslands, where it thrives in flowering meadows and woodland clearings.
  • Appearance: It boasts striking dark brown wings with contrasting lighter edges, and a prominent, almond-shaped eye along the wing margins.
  • Size: This species measures between 30 to 34 mm in wingspan, making it relatively small and agile.
  • Diet: As an adult, it feeds on nectar from a variety of flowering plants like thistles and scabious.
  • Reproduction: Mating occurs during late spring and early summer, after which females lay their eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan of an Almond-eyed Ringlet is around one month, with adults typically flying from June to August.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars feed on various grass species, particularly fescue grasses, making them an essential part of the ecosystem.


In summary, Switzerland is home to a diverse array of beautiful butterfly species, each with its own unique characteristics and habitats.

This glimpse into these 30 fascinating species only scratches the surface of the enthralling world of butterflies.

We would love to hear about your experiences with Swiss butterflies, so please feel free to leave a comment below!

Butterflies   Updated: June 21, 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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