30 Butterfly Species in Utah

Are you a butterfly enthusiast? Then the diverse state of Utah should be your next destination.

This article explores the enchanting world of 30 different butterfly species you can find fluttering in the wilds of Utah.

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)

The Clouded Sulphur is one of the butterfly species you’ll commonly encounter in Utah.

Clouded Sulphur butterfly

  • Habitat: They inhabit a vast range of environments, from open fields to gardens.
  • Appearance: These butterflies sport a bright yellow color with black edges on their wings, while females exhibit greener shades.
  • Size: Clouded Sulphurs average 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: They are nectar-feeders with a preference for pink and purple flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single green eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: They live approximately seven to ten days as adults.
  • Host Plants: They prefer clover, alfalfa, and peas for their larvae.

They’re an essential part of Utah’s ecosystem and a joy to spot. These vibrant insects are a photographers’ delight and a powerful reminder of nature’s flamboyant side.

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

The Black Swallowtail, renowned for its striking black and yellow coloration, thrives in numerous habitats.

Black Swallowtail butterfly

Let’s inspect this species closely:

  • Habitat: Frequently found in open fields, gardens, marshes, and meadows across Utah.
  • Appearance: Display a beautiful mix of black, yellow, and blue hues, with distinctive yellow dots lining the black wings.
  • Size: Wingspan typically ranges between 3.1 to 4.3 inches (7.9 to 10.9 cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies nectar on a variety of flowers, while caterpillars often munch on plants in the carrot family.
  • Reproduction: Females lay spherical, cream-colored eggs on host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults live roughly up to two weeks during summer months.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars use plants like Queen Anne’s lace, carrots, and parsley as host plants, where they continue their life cycle.

Exploring these details, it’s clear that this butterfly species adds both beauty and ecological depth to Utah’s wildlife panorama.

Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)

The Variegated Fritillary, scientifically known as Euptoieta claudia, is a fascinating butterfly species.

Variegated Fritillary butterfly

Native to Utah, here are some features of this beautiful creature:

  • Habitat: Variegated Fritillary’s habitat spans across open fields, gardens, and parks.
  • Appearance: They exhibit striking orange patterns on their upper wings and a mottled brown and black pattern beneath.
  • Size: The wingspan ranges from 1.75 to 2.25 inches (4.5cm to 5.5cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed mostly on nectar, while the caterpillars feed on violet and pansy leaves.
  • Reproduction: After mating, the female lays her eggs on or near the host plants.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan is usually several weeks.
  • Host Plants: Passionflowers, violets, flax, and various other species serve as the fritillary’s host plants.

The Variegated Fritillary is a species with a vibrant presence that enriches Utah’s diverse butterfly population.

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

Meet the Viceroy butterfly. This intriguing species is identified by its striking brown-orange wings marked steadily with a black pattern.


Here are some fascinating tidbits about it:

  • Habitat: They thrive in wetlands, marshes, and open, sun-lit fields.
  • Appearance: Viceroys flaunt brownish-orange wings with a black stripe crossing each hindwing and black margins dotted with white.
  • Size: Their wingspan sits around 2.75-3.12 inches (7-9 cm).
  • Diet: As caterpillars, they feed primarily on the leaves of willow and poplar trees. Adult butterflies sip nectar from flowers.
  • Reproduction: Fertilized females lay green eggs on the undersides of host leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about 2 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Their standbys are willow, aspen and poplar trees.

These elegantly winged creatures mimic the look of another butterfly – the Monarch – to dissuade predators. Here’s to more knowledge about this clever creature!

Western Pygmy-Blue (Brephidium exilis)

Welcome to the world of the Western Pygmy-Blue, the smallest butterfly in North America. You can spot this enchanting creature in almost any open, disturbed habitat, especially in deserts.

Western Pygmy Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: Uniquely adapted, it thrives in arid areas with a preference for saltbush.
  • Appearance: Despite its size, it’s hard to miss with its delicate blend of blue and brown hues, and a lower wing surface that exhibits splashes of coppery brown.
  • Size: Its minute size cannot be overstated. With a wingspan of just 0.5 inches or 1.27 centimeters, it’s truly a marvel of nature.
  • Diet: As is typical for butterflies, the Western Pygmy-Blue feeds on the nectar of various flowers.
  • Reproduction: Its reproductive cycle is complex. After mating, females scatter their eggs on the leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: The typical lifespan of a butterfly is quite short, and it’s no different for the Western Pygmy-Blue, lasting only a few weeks.
  • Host Plants: It develops on saltbushes, where the caterpillar feeds on leaves before undergoing metamorphosis.

As you can see, the Western Pygmy-Blue is no less interesting than its larger counterparts.

California Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica)

This species, Nymphalis californica, is appealing for many reasons. It shows a striking resemblance to the Monarch butterfly. Hence, it’s often a subject of misidentification.

California Tortoiseshell butterfly

  • Habitat: The California Tortoiseshell primarily inhabits wooded areas, which extend from sea level up to the timberline. Love forest edges, rivers, and streams.
  • Appearance: With its strikingly patterned upper wings in bright orange and black, it’s easy to spot. In contrast, the underwings sport a plain, cryptic pattern for camouflage when at rest.
  • Size: Adults typically reach a wingspan of 2 to 2.8 inches (5 to 7 cm).
  • Diet: Adults mostly feed on flower nectar. However, they have also been seen sipping sap from trees and munching overripe fruit.
  • Reproduction: Females lay clusters of eggs on the host plant, which hatch into black, spiny caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Average lifespan of this species is about a year.
  • Host Plants: Wild lilac (ceanothus) is their major host plant. But they may also favor mountain balm and buckbrush.

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

This highly nomadic butterfly, also known as the Painted Lady, takes residence in diverse areas across Utah.

painted lady butterfly

  • Habitat: Open, sunny areas like meadows, fields, and gardens are preferred.
  • Appearance: Orange-brown wings adorned with black and white spots render an alluring appearance.
  • Size: Moderate-sized with a wingspan of 2-2.9 inches (5-7.4cm).
  • Diet: Adults favor nectar from various flowers while caterpillars prefer thistle and hollyhock.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs singly on the tops of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Short lived, usually 2-4 weeks for adults, with up to 2-3 generations per year.
  • Host Plants: Thistles, hollyhocks, and mallows are some of the primary host plants.

Whether it’s their captivating flight or their colorful wings, there’s no denying the charm of the Painted Lady butterfly. They’re certainly a sight to behold for butterfly lovers visiting Utah.

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

The Spring Azure is a small butterfly that is native to North America. Its enchanting beauty is unrivalled, yet, there is so much more to this great creature.

Spring Azure butterfly

Here are some facts about it:

  • Habitat: Woodlands, meadows, and along streams are the usual hangouts of the Spring Azure.
  • Appearance: The Spring Azure has a light blue upper wing, but displays a more complex pattern of black, blue, and white scales on its underside.
  • Size: This butterfly has a wingspan of 0.7 to 1 inch (about 1.7 to 2.5 cm), so it’s really quite tiny.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar, while caterpillars dine on flowers and buds, particularly dogwood and viburnum.
  • Reproduction: Females lay green eggs singly on flower buds, and the caterpillars remain on the plant until maturity.
  • Lifespan: Adult Spring Azures usually live for only a few weeks.
  • Host Plants: Dogwood, blueberries, and meadowsweet are among some of the host plants for the Spring Azure.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

The Cabbage White butterfly is one of the most common butterflies you’ll come across in Utah.

Cabbage White butterfly

  • Habitat: They’re adaptable and thrive in a variety of settings, like gardens, meadows, and farmland.
  • Appearance: They have white wings with small black dots that distinguish them from similar species.
  • Size: A Cabbage White’s wingspan ranges from 1.5 to 2.25 inches (3.8 to 5.7 cm).
  • Diet: The adults typically feed on nectar from various flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the undersides of host plant leaves. These later hatch into caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Adult Cabbage Whites can live up to two weeks.
  • Host Plants: Members of the mustard family, including cultivated cabbages and radishes, serve as the preferred host plants.

Despite their innocent appearance, Cabbages White caterpillars are pests to farmers as they have a strong affinity for some very popular garden crops.

So next time you spot an adult fluttering around, pay attention to your cabbages!

Marine Blue (Leptotes marina)

The Marine Blue, scientifically known as Leptotes marina, is an enchanting sight in Utah’s butterfly diversity.

Marine Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: You can typically find this species in open, sunlit areas. They have a preference for disturbed habitats, waste areas, road edges, and fields.
  • Appearance: Primarily, Marine Blues are attractive butterflies with delicate, iridescent blue wings.
  • Size: Their wingspan ranges from 0.75 to 1.13 inches (19-29 millimeters).
  • Diet: Adult Marine Blues have a penchant for flower nectar, while the caterpillar feeds on leguminous plants.
  • Reproduction: The female lays greenish-white, conical-shaped eggs singly on host plant buds.
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies live a few weeks, but the entire life cycle lasts about a month.
  • Host Plants: Legumes like the Astragalus species and Trifoliumwilldenovii are common host plants, providing sustenance at the caterpillar stage.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Red Admirals are striking insects that charm the onlooker with their intricate patterns.

red-admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: Red Admirals are prevalent in wide-ranging habitats including woods, parks, yards and moist areas.
  • Appearance: Their black wings showcase eye-catching red-orange bands and white markings, giving a magnificent display of natural art.
  • Size: Adult butterflies typically span 4–5 cm (1.5–2 inch), a perfect size for witnessing its natural beauty close-up.
  • Diet: Adult Red Admirals variate their menu, savoring on rotting fruit, tree sap, bird droppings, and occasionally visit flowers for nectar.
  • Reproduction: Females lay greenish eggs singly on host plant leaves. Caterpillars weave a leaf shelter for protection while feeding.
  • Lifespan: Adults usually have a lifespan of about 6–11 months, enough to deeply enthrall the avid bug-watchers.
  • Host Plants: Preferred plants for their larvae are nettles – Stinging Nettle, Tall Wild Nettle, Wood Nettle, False Nettle and Pellitory.

Pleasant to the sight, Red Admirals indeed are one of Utah’s most beautiful butterfly species.

Desert Orangetip (Anthocharis cethura)

The Desert Orangetip is a butterfly species native to Utah.

Desert Orangetip, Anthocharis cethura morrisoni, male

  • Habitat: Preferring drier climates, you can find them in the desert regions of Utah.
  • Appearance: Known for their brilliant orange tips on their forewings, they also have a unique pattern of black and white underwings.
  • Size: They tend to be medium-sized, with a wingspan ranging from 1.2 to 2.8 inches (3 to 7 cm).
  • Diet: As adults, their main diet consists of flower nectar.
  • Reproduction: The female lays green eggs on the host plants where the caterpillars feed.
  • Lifespan: The typical lifespan in captivity is around 2 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Their preferred host plants are desert mustards.

Silvery Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus)

Meet the Silvery Blue Butterfly. Aptly named for its distinct color, it is a sight to behold.

Silvery Blue butterfly

Below are some important details:

  • Habitat: This species is quite adaptable. You can find it in a range of habitats, from desert floors to alpine meadows.
  • Appearance: Its upper wings are a radiant blue with a black outer edge. Conversely, the underside is pale or silvery gray, spotted with tiny black dots.
  • Size: The Silvery Blue is small, with a wingspan typically ranging between 0.75 to 1.1 inches (19 – 28mm).
  • Diet: Adult Silvery Blues feed on flower nectar, yielding an important part in pollination.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on flower buds. Post-hatching caterpillars feed on flowers and developing seeds.
  • Lifespan: The lifecycle stage as adults is short, typically living for a few days to a week.
  • Host Plants: Lupine, vetch, and pea are common host plants, providing sustenance for developing larvae.

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

Meet the Gulf Fritillary, an attention-grabbing species of butterfly known for its stunning and distinct orange color.

gulf fritillary

  • Habitat: Often spotted in the southernmost parts of Utah’s landscapes, bordering Arizona and Nevada.
  • Appearance: An easy-to-spot butterfly with a bold orange canvas dotted with black and white spots. When sunlight hits it, you’ll see a metallic silver sheen on the underwings.
  • Size: Average wingspan is between 2.4 to 3.5 inches (6.1 to 8.9 cm), sizeable and commanding to encounter.
  • Diet: Adults primarily feed on nectar from flowers. As caterpillars, they enjoy the leaves of their host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay pale, yellow eggs on the under-surface of the leaves of their host plants.
  • Lifespan: They typically only live about three weeks in their adult stage.
  • Host Plants: Passion-vines are their favored host plants, a place for them to lay eggs and a food source for the caterpillars.

This beautiful butterfly is a brilliant addition to Utah’s vibrant butterfly population.

Two-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata)

The Two-tailed Swallowtail is a fascinating butterfly species native to Utah. With vivid colors, this butterfly attracts attention effortlessly.

two-tailed swallowtail butterfly

Here’s what makes them special:

  • Habitat: They are usually found in open areas, woodlands, and gardens.
  • Appearance: The adult butterflies have yellow bodies with black stripes and feature two tails on each hindwing.
  • Size: Their wingspan can reach up to 10 cm (4 inches), making them one of the largest butterflies in Utah.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from a variety of flowers, while the larvae often eat the leaves of trees and shrubs.
  • Reproduction: The female lays its eggs on the leaves of host plants. The green caterpillars that hatch from these eggs have a black and yellow stripe pattern.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan is about 6 to 14 days for adults.
  • Host Plants: Cottonwoods, willows, and cherry trees are among the favorite host plants of this species. Remember, these beauties are a vital part of our ecosystem. Let them fly freely, contributing to the biodiversity of Utah.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye butterflies are a fascinating species you’ll find in Utah. They’re named after their eye-like spots.

Common Buckeye butterfly

  • Habitat: They thrive in open, sunny environments including fields, meadows, and even roadsides.
  • Appearance: They have a striking brown color with spots shaped like eyes on each wing, and bands of white and orange around the edges.
  • Size: You’ll notice them due to their moderate size of 2-2.7 inches (5-7 centimeters).
  • Diet: Adult buckeyes primarily feed on nectar from various flowers, while the caterpillars munch on plants.
  • Reproduction: They lay eggs singly on the buds of host plants.
  • Lifespan: They reach a ripe age of approximately 2 weeks as adults.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars of this species enjoy a variety of plants, but favorites include snapdragon, plantains, and false foxglove.

Such valued information may contribute to your Utah butterfly-watching experience. They’re truly a sight worth appreciating.

Checkered White (Pontia protodice)

The Checkered White makes its home in open areas such as fields and road edges.

Checkered White butterfly

  • Habitat: It’s seen in the U.S from coast to coast, covering even Central America. In Utah, it’s found in desert habitats.
  • Appearance: The upper wing surface of adult males is white with black cell spots and wing margins. Females have more grey scaling and larger dark areas.
  • Size: With a wingspan of 1.5 to 2.25 inches (38 to 58 mm), it’s quite noticeable.
  • Diet: The Checkered White relies mostly on alpine flowers for nectar.
  • Reproduction: Males patrol in the afternoon for females, who lay eggs singly on host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: It has a short life, flying from March to November.
  • Host Plants: Favorite plants range from saltwort to tumble mustard and London-rocket.

Your garden can help sustain populations by providing nectar and host plants. You do not only support the ecosystem, but also get a chance to enjoy the beauty of this species.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

The American Lady is a beautiful butterfly of Utah that adds a splash of color to landscapes.

American Lady butterfly

Let’s get acquainted with this stunning creature below:

  • Habitat: You’ll find this butterfly in a variety of settings; fields, forests, gardens, wetlands, and even deserts too.
  • Appearance: Sporting vibrant, mostly orange wings with black and white spots, it stands out effortlessly.
  • Size: This medium-sized butterfly measures about 2 – 2.8 inches (5 – 7 cm) wide.
  • Diet: Primarily nectivorous, they love feasting on flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs singly on host plants.
  • Lifespan: They live around 2 weeks in their adult form, considering nothing else shortens their life.
  • Host Plants: Favored host plants include cudweed, everlasting and pearly.

A fact that’s very unique to the American Lady is that they migrate, meaning they take long-distance trips depending on the season.

This truly sets them apart from other butterflies in Utah!

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

You’ve likely come across the Red-spotted Purple butterfly. This species loves the diverse habitats of Utah, favoring open woodlands and forest edges.

Red-spotted Purple butterfly

  • Habitat: Open woodlands, forest edges, and parks.
  • Appearance: It’s marked by an irresistible lustrous blue on the upper side of its wings, contrasted by red spots lining the bottom.
  • Size: An adult Red-spotted Purple has an average wingspan of 3 to 3.5 inches (around 8 to 9 cm).
  • Diet: These butterflies enjoy nectar from a variety of flowers, but they’re also known for consuming sap and rotting fruit.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on host plants where the larvae can feed.
  • Lifespan: Adult butterflies live on average 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: A few of their favorites are wild cherry (Prunus serotina), aspen (Populus tremuloides), and willows (Salix genus).

This butterfly species is a delight for the eyes, catching sunlight creating a near-magical aura.

California Sister (Adelpha bredowii)

  • Habitat: The California Sister often dwells within oak woodlands and can be found either sunning itself or sipping tree sap.
  • Appearance: Displaying a unique symmetry, the California Sister’s wings present a striking contrast between its black forewings and hindwings of a delicate orange-red hue.

California Sister butterfly

  • Size: This butterfly species has a medium size with a wingspan that ranges between 2.4 to 2.8 inches (60.96 to 71.12 mm).
  • Diet: It primarily feeds on the sap of trees, and it’s also known to consume rotting fruits.
  • Reproduction: The larva forms a greenish chrysalis where it will develop into an adult, with the female laying her eggs on the leaves of oak trees.
  • Lifespan: Its lifespan typically lasts from Spring to early Fall, sometimes up to 10 months in favorable conditions.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars exclusively feed on different variations of oak species.

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

Dive into the world of the ‘Great Spangled Fritillary,’ an awe-inspiring butterfly species found in Utah.

Great Spangled Fritillary

  • Habitat: Find this butterfly in Utah’s sunlit meadows, woodlands, or near streams. It is versatile, adapting to diverse habitats.
  • Appearance: The upper side of its wings display a warm orange with black spots. The undersides have silver spots, lending its ‘spangled’ name.
  • Size: The Great Spangled Fritillary measures between 2.5 to 4 inches (6.35 to 10.16 cm).
  • Diet: Adults feed on flower nectar, with a preference for milkweed, thistles, and Ironweed.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs closer to winter. When spring arrives, the hatched caterpillars feed on violets.
  • Lifespan: Adults have a brief life, lasting about one month. However, their entire lifecycle from egg to adult spans about 11 months.
  • Host Plants: Violets are their primary diet during the early stages of their life cycle. It’s where females lay their eggs, setting the stage for the next generation.

Immerse yourself in Utah’s natural world and explore the realm of the Great Spangled Fritillary.

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

You might see the Orange Sulphur flitting about in open areas such as meadows, parks, or gardens. Don’t let the name fool you.

Despite being called Orange Sulphur, its wings can range from a vibrant yellow to a deep orange.

Orange Sulphur butterfly

  • Habitat: Flourishes in open areas, including gardens, meadows, fields, and roadsides.
  • Appearance: Wings display hues of orange or yellow, featuring a dark border and unique black spotting.
  • Size: Wingspan ranges between 1.3 and 2.2 inches (3.3 to 5.6cm).
  • Diet: Adult Orange Sulphurs consume nectar from flowers while catering mainly to legumes.
  • Reproduction: Females lay singular pale green eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: About 1 month during summer seasons or 7 to 8 months for overwintering adults.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars feed on leguminous plants like alfalfa, white clover, and pea family plants.

Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus)

This is a large, strikingly beautiful butterfly.

Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

Here’s all you need to know about the details:

  • Habitat: This species largely dwells in wooded areas, gardens, and river valleys.
  • Appearance: It has a distinct yellow and black striped pattern, akin to a tiger, hence the name.
  • Size: It has an impressive wingspan of 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 cm).
  • Diet: The caterpillars have a penchant for green leaves, while the adult butterflies sip nectar from flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay spherical, greenish eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: Typically, their life cycle from egg to adult takes about a month.
  • Host Plants: These butterflies primarily utilize willow, cottonwood, and aspen trees.

There’s a lot to appreciate about this butterfly species. Your time observing them will be well-spent.

Clodius Parnassian (Parnassius clodius)

Among all the butterfly species in Utah, the Clodius Parnassian stands out. Observing this species, you’ll find unique qualities that add to Utah’s biological diversity.

Clodius Parnassian butterfly

  • Habitat: It favors high-altitude regions, usually found above the timberline. However, they are observed in open, sunny areas at lower elevations too.
  • Appearance: Boasts a captivating color scheme. Its wings are white with large translucent areas, adorned with black and red spots.
  • Size: Once fully grown, wing spans range from 6 to 10 cm (2.36 to 3.94 inches).
  • Diet: As caterpillar, it mostly feeds on plants. After metamorphosis, adult butterflies prefer nectar from flowers.
  • Reproduction: After mating, female butterflies lay eggs on or near the host plant.
  • Lifespan: The life cycle from egg to adult stretches over a year.
  • Host Plants: Its larvae often feed on stonecrop and lichen.

Next time you’re in Utah’s high (or low) places, keep an eye out for this breathtaking creature!

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)

Commonly known as the American Snout, ‘Libytheana carinenta’ is a truly unique butterfly species that can be found across Utah.

Its main distinguishing feature is its elongated mouthparts, mimicking the appearance of a snout.

American Snout butterfly

  • Habitat: Usually spotted near bodies of water and in verdant fields, they prefer warmer environments, typically found in the southern parts of Utah.
  • Appearance: It predominantly displays a dull brown-orange color, with mosaics of white and black on the edges of its wings.
  • Size: It is relatively small, bearing an average wingspan of 1.5-2 inches (about 4-5 cm).
  • Diet: It enjoys sipping nectar from a wide variety of flowers, supplemented by rotten fruit.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on leaves of hackberry trees, providing food for their larvae.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan is relatively short, often only a couple of weeks.
  • Host Plants: The Hackberry tree is host to this species, providing resources for both the larvae and adults.

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

Here comes another beautiful species called the Cloudless Sulphur.

cloudless sulphur butterfly

Let’s find out more about it:

  • Habitat: Cloudless Sulphur thrives in open spaces, generally around gardens or swampy areas in Utah.
  • Appearance: Displaying bright yellow wings, these are noticeable in the early morning and late evening.
  • Size: These medium-sized butterflies are roughly 2 to 2.75 inches (5.1 to 6.9 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: The diet of adults includes nectar from many types of flowers, but they have a preference for red or pink ones.
  • Reproduction: Mating season is primarily in mid-summer, where females will lay single green eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: The Cloudless Sulphur usually lives around 8 weeks in summer, while those born in fall may hibernate and live several months longer.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars feed on the foliage of cassia species in the pea family.

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

The Gray Hairstreak is among the diverse and vibrant butterfly species you can spot in Utah. This little creature is part of the largest family of butterflies, Lycaenidae.

Gray Hairstreak butterfly

  • Habitat: They are adaptable to various environments and can be found from deserts to marshlands.
  • Appearance: They showcase a subtle beauty with their gray and silver wings dotted with a streak of orange near the bottom.
  • Size: With a wingspan ranging between 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm), they’re a small, dainty species.
  • Diet: Adults live off nectar from a wide variety of flowers, while caterpillars are more selective.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs only on the specific plants their larvae will later feed.
  • Lifespan: They go through multiple generations every year, with adults living about a month.
  • Host Plants: The larvae feed on a multitude of plants, including cotton, beans, and peas. Its adaptability to different host plants boosts the population rate.

The Gray Hairstreak isn’t just intriguing for its aesthetics; the species also represents an excellent example of adaptability in nature.

Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon)

The Anise Swallowtail, scientifically named Papilio zelicaon, is a particularly attractive species.

anise swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: They generally reside amidst fields, gardens, and hills, even favoring suburban areas and road edges.
  • Appearance: The Anise Swallowtail is renowned for its striking look. It boasts yellow wings adorned with black stripes, with blue and orange spots beautifully gracing the edges.
  • Size: On average, adult wingspans range between 2.4–3.8 inches or 6–9.5 cm, actively captivating onlookers.
  • Diet: These butterflies mostly feed on nectar from a variety of flowers. Caterpillars have a preference for plants like anise.
  • Reproduction: In spring, females lay their eggs on leaves of the host plant where the larvae will feast.
  • Lifespan: The average adult lives up to one month, while larvae can survive the winter through diapause.
  • Host Plants: Favored host plants include the fennel, carrots, dill, parsley, and other members of the Apiaceae family.

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

Certainly, stepping into the pipevine butterfly’s world is a delightful experience.

Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: These charming creatures are typically found in meadows and forest edges across Utah.
  • Appearance: They boast an enchanting blue-black color with spherical white spots. Males have an iridescent blue-green shimmer.
  • Size: They are quite large, measuring between 3.5 to 4.5 inches (9-11 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: As caterpillars, they feed on pipevines. Adults enjoy nectar from a variety of flowers.
  • Reproduction: Females lay yellow eggs on the underside of the pipevine plant, which hatch into reddish-brown caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: They live a year, spending winter as pupae and appearing in spring.
  • Host Plants: Pipevine Swallowtails use pipevines as host plants. Their sunlit spring dance around these plants is a beautiful sight to see.

So, there you have it – a brief foray into the world of the Pipevine Swallowtail, a gem of Utah’s butterfly population.

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

The Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) is a fascinating butterfly that you’ll undoubtedly encounter in Utah.

Its unique characteristics make it a favorite among both enthusiasts and casual observers.

Mourning Cloak butterfly

  • Habitat: You can spot this species in forests, parks, and backyards, showcasing adaptability to urban or rural settings.
  • Appearance: Their brown wings boast a vibrant yellow border, adorned with blue spots, resembling a velvet cloak.
  • Size: They are medium-sized, with a wingspan of about 2-4 inches (5-10 cm).
  • Diet: Unlike many others, adult Mourning Cloaks feed primarily on tree sap, overripe fruits, and nectar only when required.
  • Reproduction: Females lay clusters of eggs on the host plant. The larvae then feed heavily until pupation.
  • Lifespan: Remarkably, they can live for up to 11 months, one of the longest life spans among butterflies.
  • Host Plants: Willow, elm, and poplar serve as their primary host plants.

It’s a species genuinely symbolic of resilience and adaptability.


You’ve had an enchanting journey with 30 diverse butterfly species in Utah. Remarkable, aren’t they?

Leave a comment and let us know which butterfly resonated with you the most!

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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