30 Butterfly Species in Vermont

Welcome to the world of butterflies in Vermont! This article guides you through 30 different species that call the Green Mountain State home.

From the Hackberry Emperor to the White Admiral, you’ll be well-versed in Vermont’s vibrant butterfly population in no time.

Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)

The Hackberry Emperor is a fascinating butterfly species native to Vermont. Its distinctive characteristics make it a sight to behold.

Hackberry Emperor butterfly

Let’s explore its key features:

  • Habitat: You’ll typically find these creatures in woodland and edges, river valleys and areas with Hackberry trees.
  • Appearance: The butterfly sports a beautiful brown color with white spots and streaks. It also showcases two visible eyespots.
  • Size: It falls in the medium size range, with a wingspan of 1.5 to 1.9 inches (3.8 to 4.8 cm).
  • Diet: As adults, they feed on a variety of sugary substances like tree sap, dung, and rotting fruits.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the leaves of host plants. The butterfly undergoes four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
  • Lifespan: An adult Hackberry Emperor lives up to two weeks, with the entire life cycle lasting around a month.
  • Host Plants: They prefer Hackberry tree species, where females lay their eggs and caterpillars feed on the leaves.

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

The Question Mark butterfly, scientifically known as Polygonia interrogationis, is one of Vermont’s most colorful and distinctive denizens.

Recognized by its ornate wing pattern and distinctive marking — a single, white dot punctuated by a small curve to resemble a question mark.

Question Mark butterfly

  • Habitat: Prefers forested areas, parks, and suburban locales.
  • Appearance: Rusty-orange wingspan with intricate black markings. Distinctive silver question mark shape on the underside.
  • Size: Medium to large, with wingspans ranging from 2-3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm).
  • Diet: Sap, rotting fruit, carrion, and occasionally nectar.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs singly on host plants. The colorful caterpillars hatch after about a week.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for several months, with overwintering individuals living up to 10 months.
  • Host Plants: Primarily hop and elm trees, but also nettles and false nettles.

Although seldom seen at backyard flowers, you’re more likely to spot them fluttering through a shaded forest or sunning on rocks.

Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta)

Summer Azure is a delightful butterfly species you’ll come across in Vermont.

Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta)

  • Habitat: They enjoy a broad range of environments, from urban parks to open woods, and even coastal dunes.
  • Appearance: This species has a unique light blue color on the upperside of their wings. The undersides are white with small, black dots.
  • Size: Quite petite in size, the Summer Azure tends to range between 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 4 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Their dietary preference leans toward flower nectar, such as that of milkweeds, cherry blossoms, and dogbane.
  • Reproduction: Summer Azures have two to three broods a year, with each female laying hundreds of eggs.
  • Lifespan: Their delicate existence spans over several months.
  • Host Plants: They lay their eggs on flower buds, with favorites being dogwood, meadowsweet, and New Jersey tea.

Despite their small size, the Summer Azure holds great importance in the ecosystem, acting as pollinators and prey for larger creatures.

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

The Mourning Cloak is not only found in Vermont but across many parts of the world. However, it has peculiar preferences when it comes to its habitat and physical characteristics.

Mourning Cloak butterfly

Let’s take a quick look at these:

  • Habitat: These butterflies favor wooded areas, parks, and gardens.
  • Appearance: They boast a velvety, dark-brown, nearly black coat with a yellow border around the wings. There are blue spots on the inside of the yellow border.
  • Size: This species is relatively large, measuring between 2.2-3.9 inches (5.5-10 cm) wide.
  • Diet: Mourning Cloaks feed on tree sap, particularly from oaks. They also enjoy feeding on ripe fruit and sometimes nectar.
  • Reproduction: The female lays clusters of eggs on the host plant. They hatch to give bright red spiny caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: The butterfly can live up to one year, which is quite long for a butterfly.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars feed on willow, poplar and hackberry leaves.

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

The Orange Sulphur, also known as Alfalfa Butterfly, is a staple in the Vermont biodiversity.

Orange Sulphur butterfly

Here is a closer look at this fascinating species:

  • Habitat: Prefers open areas like fields, meadows, and roadsides.
  • Appearance: Primarily orange with tinted yellow, and black edging on wings. More vibrant in males, females may have white spots.
  • Size: Ranges from 1.25 to 2 inches (3.18 to 5.08 cm) in wingspan.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies feed on flower nectar while the caterpillars feast on clover and alfalfa.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Short-lived; usually approximately a month in adult stage.
  • Host Plants: Alfalfa, clover, and pea plants are favorites.

Eco-friendly practices, like managing roadsides and agricultural habitats, help maintain this species population.

An observer’s delight, these butterflies add vibrant color to Vermont’s flora and fauna.

Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma)

The Eastern Comma is another fascinating butterfly species you can find in Vermont.

Eastern Comma butterfly

Here’s what you need to know about this unique species:

  • Habitat: The Eastern Comma commonly thrives in wooded areas and pastures.
  • Appearance: Its wings exhibit a brilliant orange color and it is named for the white, comma-shaped marking on the underside of its wings.
  • Size: This species typically reaches a wingspan of 1.8 to 2.5 inches (4.5-6 cm).
  • Diet: As adults, these butterflies feed on rotten fruit, tree sap, and occasionally nectar.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the host plants. They can produce up to 3 generations each year.
  • Lifespan: In its butterfly form, the Eastern Comma can live from 2 weeks to a month.
  • Host Plants: The larvae dine on leaves of various species, including elm, nettle, and hops.

Through these particulars, you’ll quickly recognize the Eastern Comma during your next outdoor adventure in Vermont!

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)

Meet the American Snout, known for its distinctive proboscis, reminiscent of a snout. Unlike other butterfly species, the American Snout shows a preference for disturbed habitats.

American Snout butterfly

  • Habitat: Often found in thorny scrublands and near rivers.
  • Appearance: Primarily brown and orange, with hints of white. Their elongated labial palpi resemble a ‘snout’.
  • Size: Sports a small to medium size, with a wingspan around 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm).
  • Diet: Mainly nectars on mesquite and hackberry trees.
  • Reproduction: Lays eggs on the host plants, typically hackberry trees.
  • Lifespan: Lives up to 3 to 4 weeks in butterfly form.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars of American Snout feed on hackberry trees, which are widely associated with this species.

This versatile species remains a fascinating presence in Vermont, standing out with its unusual appearance and habitat preference. Watch for them when you’re next out in nature.

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

This striking butterfly is a true beauty of the Vermonter wilderness.

Red-spotted Purple butterfly

  • Habitat: Red-spotted Purples are often found in deciduous woods, forests, and edges of water bodies.
  • Appearance: Distinguished by their brilliant blue-purple wings with prominent red spots along the edges, they are genuinely stunning.
  • Size: Typically, they have a wingspan of 3 to 3.75 inches (8-10 cm) which is easily recognized.
  • Diet: They feed on tree sap, fermenting fruit, and occasionally nectar. Their caterpillars usually feed on leaves of host plants.
  • Reproduction: Males perch on tree branches in search of females. Females then lay the eggs on tips of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: They have a relatively short lifespan of 7-10 days as an adult butterfly.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillar host plants include a variety of tree species like poplar, willow, and river birch.

Although this may seem fleeting, the Red-spotted Purple butterfly’s life is native to Vermont and undeniably noteworthy.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

The American Lady is a common butterfly species seen across Vermont.

American Lady butterfly

  • Habitat: These butterflies favor open areas, gardens, and fields.
  • Appearance: American Ladies boast an orange, black, and white pattern on the upper side of their wings. The underside is a mosaic of intricate design sporting multiple colors.
  • Size: These butterflies measure 2 to 2.75 inches (5 to 7 cm) in width.
  • Diet: As adults, they feed on flower nectar. Caterpillars thrive on plants including Everlasting and cudweed.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on host plants. The caterpillar form owns bristle-like spines and sports black, yellow, and orange bands.
  • Lifespan: An adult can survive for a few weeks. They produce two generations a year in northern regions and more in southern regions.
  • Host Plants: Their preferred host plants are the Sweet Everlastings and various species of cudweed. These plants provide nutrition to the larvae stage of the butterfly.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

  • Habitat: This dynamic species prefer habitats consisting of woodlands and fields. They are also frequently found near urban and suburban parks and gardens.
  • Appearance: Distinguished by its black stripes on yellow wings, it has prominent tails on the hind wings, echoing the appearance of a tiger hence the name – Tiger Swallowtail.
  • Size: An impressive size, ranging from 3.1 to 5.5 inches (7.9 to 14 cm) in terms of their wingspan.

eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly

  • Diet: Adult butterflies sip on nectar from various flowers while the caterpillars feed on the leaves of host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay spherical green eggs, from which caterpillars emerge. These caterpillars undergo metamorphosis to become a butterfly.
  • Lifespan: Typical lifespan is around a month. However, the butterflies which emerge towards fall can survive until spring.
  • Host Plants: Primary host plants include various species such as wild cherry, tulip tree, and birch.

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

The Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) is a fascinating butterfly species that calls Vermont its home.


  • Habitat: These butterflies favor wetlands, meadows, and deciduous forests.
  • Appearance: They are known for their bright orange wings with black veins, mimicking the Monarch butterfly’s look to keep off predators.
  • Size: Adult butterflies can measure 2-3 inches (5-7.6 cm) across in wingspan.
  • Diet: Adult Viceroys feed on flower nectar, while caterpillars enjoy munching on willow and poplar leaves.
  • Reproduction: Males stake out territories and court passing females by flashing their brilliant colors.
  • Lifespan: In the wild, they can live for about 2 weeks.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars use trees in the willow family as larval host plants.

The Viceroy’s striking resemblance to the less palatable Monarch butterfly is an excellent example of Batesian mimicry, serving as a protective strategy against predators.

Bog Copper (Lycaena epixanthe)

Bog Copper is a wondrous butterfly species you can sight in Vermont. Look out for them in the bogs and marshy areas where they’ve adapted to thrive.

Bog Copper - Lycaena epixanthe

  • Habitat: Predominantly in cranberry-bog habitats.
  • Appearance: Females are a dull brown, males have an iridescent copper color.
  • Size: Bog Copper’s size ranges from 0.87 to 1.25 inches (2.2 to 3.1 cm).
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar, while larvae feed on the leaves of cranberry plants.
  • Reproduction: They have a single brood from late June through August.
  • Lifespan: Typical lifespan is from egg to butterfly is around 3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Larvae of Bog Coppers can specifically be found on cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) plants.

Their survival, intimately tied to cranberry bogs, says much about the importance of preserving these habitats.

Next time you’re near such marshy areas in Vermont, keep an eye out for the beautiful Bog Copper butterfly.

American Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

The American Copper, scientifically known as Lycaena phlaeas, is a remarkable butterfly species found in Vermont.

It displays exquisite variations of copper and brown, making it genuinely charming and eye-catching.

American Copper butterfly

  • Habitat: They thrive in various environments from sunny fields to the edges of roads.
  • Appearance: Their upper wing is an alluring copper color adorned with dark spots. The underwings reveal a detailed pattern with gray and orange hues.
  • Size: They are small, with a wing span of 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm).
  • Diet: They feed on flower nectar. Favorite treats include daisies and clover.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on the leaves of host plants, typically the Common Sorrel.
  • Lifespan: The lifespan ranges from weeks up to a month.
  • Host Plants: The larvae primarily feed on Dock and other Sorrel plants.

It’s inspiring to see the harmony they establish with their surroundings. Their existence truly enlivens the Vermont landscape.

This underscores the importance of supporting efforts aimed at maintaining their natural habitats.

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)

The Clouded Sulphur is a spectacular butterfly species found in Vermont.

Clouded Sulphur butterfly

Let’s delve into some specifics about this remarkable moth:

  • Habitat: It thrives in open spaces like meadows, fields, and roadsides.
  • Appearance: Its wings display a pleasing yellow color, often with small black spots. Females can also be white and show a greenish underside.
  • Size: The wingspan of a Clouded Sulphur typically ranges between 1.25 to 2.0 inches (32 to 51 mm).
  • Diet: Adult Clouded Sulphurs sip nectar from a variety of flowers, while the caterpillars feed on leaves.
  • Reproduction: Females lay green eggs singularly on host plants, from which caterpillars emerge.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for only a few weeks, whereas the cycle from eggs to adults lasts for a month.
  • Host Plants: Caterpillars munch on a different range of legumes, notably alfalfa, clover species, and wild pea plants.

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

The Pipevine Swallowtail, scientifically known as Battus philenor, is remarkably spectacular with its uniquely colored features.

Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: This vibrantly colored butterfly is often found in moist, deciduous areas, mainly along streams and ravines.
  • Appearance: It stands out with its beautiful velvety, iridescent black wings that are embellished with soft blue or blue-green hindwing.
  • Size: This species has an impressive wingspan that varies from 2.8 to 5 inches (7 to 12.7 cm).
  • Diet: Adult butterflies thrive mainly on nectar from different flowering plants like azaleas and dogbane, whereas larvae feed on host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay solitary light-orange eggs on twining vines, which become the primary food source for hatched caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Adult Pipevine Swallowtails usually live up to a month, depending on their environment.
  • Host Plants: Primarily, Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars favor Dutchman’s pipe vine, hence the name.

The Pipevine Swallowtail is a unique butterfly, adding a splash of color to the beautiful landscapes of Vermont.

Its diet and reproduction are interlinked with its chosen host plants, making an exciting cycle of life.

California Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica)

Let’s discuss the California Tortoiseshell. This species is intensely known for its vibrant, sea-shell like appearance, which is truly distinctive.

California Tortoiseshell butterfly

Check out some of its key features:

  • Habitat: Typically found in woodland areas and high-altitude alpine regions.
  • Appearance: They boast an earthy, orange-brown coloring with intricate, black patterns.
  • Size: Adults typically range between 1.5-2.5 inches (4-6 cm) width.
  • Diet: The caterpillars are herbivores, feeding on the leaves of Ceanothus.
  • Reproduction: Adult butterflies can lay up to several hundred eggs on host plants.
  • Lifespan: On average, adults survive for approximately 2 weeks in the wild.
  • Host Plants: The California Tortoiseshell larvae thrive on plants like the Ceanothus.

Undoubtedly, these butterflies bring an unmatched level of wonder and fascination to the insect realm of Vermont. As you explore, keep a watchful eye out for this standout species.

Silver-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene)

The Silver-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene) is one of the captivating butterfly species that call Vermont home.

Silver-bordered Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: This insect resides mainly in damp grasslands, marshes, fields, and meadows.
  • Appearance: Characterised by orange-brown wings with checkered fringes, it’s dotted with black spots on the top side. The underside of its wings display silver spots, hence the name.
  • Size: Generally, their wingspan measures between 1.3-2.4 inches (3.3-6.1 cm).
  • Diet: Their menu primarily consists of nectar from flowers, especially violets.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on violet leaves, which are the larva’s food source.
  • Lifespan: Silver-bordered Fritillaries live for approximately one year, quite a hearty age for a butterfly.
  • Host Plants: Their primary host plants are different varieties of violets, including Marsh Blue Violet and Common Blue Violet.

Truly, this species is an incredible example of the myriad butterfly species found in Vermont.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

The Silver-spotted Skipper is a quintessential beauty that thrives in sunny open areas across Vermont. A distinctive butterfly species, its grace adds tranquility to our environment.

Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly

  • Habitat: Predominantly found in open woodlands, meadows, and gardens.
  • Appearance: They are recognized for their beautiful brown wings patterned with white and silver spots. Hence, justifying their name.
  • Size: They measure about 2 to 2.5 inches (5 to 6.35 cm), a quite decent size in the butterfly world.
  • Diet: They seek nectar from many different types of flowers, contributing to biodiversity and pollination.
  • Reproduction: They typically lay eggs individually on the host plants, their future caterpillars’ food source.
  • Lifespan: An average Silver-spotted Skipper lives roughly a month, living a short yet vibrant life.
  • Host Plants: Known for their taste for legumes, their caterpillars feed on black locust and other similar species.

Spotting one of these majestic creatures fluttering about can surely make your day a little bit brighter.

Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas)

The Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly is a small, attractive species. This tiny creature can usually be witnessed flitting around the landscape in warmer seasons.

Savor your encounter with it, perhaps over a leisurely afternoon in the outdoors.

Eastern Tailed-Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: Often found in disturbed and open areas, including parks and yards.
  • Appearance: Males showcase a stunning slate blue color, while females feature a grayish-brown hue with a dusting of blue. Both genders dazzle with their trailing tails.
  • Size: These petite creatures have a wingspan ranging from 3/4 to 1 inch (20 to 25 millimeters).
  • Diet: They enjoy a meal from various flowering plants, also consuming aphid honeydew.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on the flower buds of host plants during summers.
  • Lifespan: Usually live for several weeks to a couple of months.
  • Host Plants: Favors plants in the pea family (Fabaceae) like clover and alfalfa.

Such a little butterfly, yet filled with significant biodiversity wonder. Isn’t that intriguing?

Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

One of the most recognized and studied butterflies in the world is the Monarch. Her orange and black pattern is truly a sight to behold. Here’s a closer look at the Monarch.


  • Habitat: Found across North America, with large populations in Vermont. They are famous for their long-distance annual migrations.
  • Appearance: Displaying vibrant orange wings with black-striped borders infused with white dots. Their body is black with white spots.
  • Size: Boasts a wingspan of 3.5-4 inches (8.9-10.2 cm), characterizing it as a medium-large species.
  • Diet: Adult Monarchs primarily subsist on nectar from a variety of flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves, their primary host plant.
  • Lifespan: They live 2-6 weeks as adults, but the last generation of each year may live up to 8 months.
  • Host Plants: Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of milkweed plants.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

The Cabbage White butterfly is one of the most common butterflies in Vermont. It spreads across all continents except Antarctica and South America. As for its habitat, it favors open areas such as fields and gardens.

This butterfly is famous for its plain white appearance. But, its underwings possess two spots which distinguish it. Males only have one spot on their underwings. On average, Cabbage White is about 1.3-2.2 inches (3.3-5.6 cm) big.

Cabbage White butterfly

It gets its name from its favorite diet of cabbage and other cruciferous plants. These plants also serve as host plants for its caterpillars.

In terms of reproduction, females can lay hundreds of eggs. The average lifespan for a Cabbage White is around 1-2 weeks.

Below is a brief summary:

  • Habitat: Open areas like fields and gardens.
  • Appearance: Plain white with two spots on the underwing for females and one for males.
  • Size: 1.3-2.2 inches (3.3-5.6 cm).
  • Diet: Cabbage and other crucifers.
  • Reproduction: Hundreds of eggs per female.
  • Lifespan: 1-2 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Cabbage and other crucifer plants.

Northern Azure (Celastrina lucia)

The Northern Azure (Celastrina lucia), one of the galaxy of butterflies in Vermont, is particularly noted for its blue beauty.

Northern Azure (Celastrina lucia)

Let’s delve deeper into its fascinating specifics:

  • Habitat: It thrives predominantly in woodland areas as well as suburban regions.
  • Appearance: The Northern Azure boasts a stunning blue upper surface with edges that are subtly fringed with white.
  • Size: This species has a wingspan of 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm).
  • Diet: The adult members prefer feeding on flower nectar, especially that of blueberry bushes and viburnum.
  • Reproduction: Typically, females lay their eggs on the flower buds of their preferred host plants.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan extends from small larvae to adults, usually about two months in total.
  • Host Plants: Key host plants involve New Jersey Tea, Beardtongues, and dogwoods.

So when you’re on your next butterfly spotting adventure, remember to look out for the Northern Azure and its characteristic blue hue.

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

The Great Spangled Fritillary is a delightful sight in Vermont’s meadows and woodlands.

Great Spangled Fritillary

  • Habitat: Predominantly found in open, sunny fields, pastures, and meadows.
  • Appearance: Distinguished by its orange-brown wings with black markings. The undersides are beautifully ornate with a pattern of silver spots.
  • Size: Adult wingspans can range from 2.5 to 4 inches (approximately 6 to 10 cm).
  • Diet: Mainly nectar-feeders. They love purple coneflowers, milkweed, and thistles.
  • Reproduction: They lay their eggs singly on leaves of host plants.
  • Lifespan: Adults generally live for two to three weeks.
  • Host Plants: They prefer violets, specifically the common blue violet.

Their swift and erratic flight pattern can be challenging to follow, but they are worth the pursuit! Watching a Great Spangled Fritillary in Vermont’s lush outdoors offers a remarkable natural spectacle.

Remember, it is important to respectfully admire these creatures and not disturb their natural behaviors.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

The Red Admiral, known in scientific terms as Vanessa atalanta, adores fluttering around in a variety of habitats. This includes your everyday gardens, parks, wetlands, and forests.

This adaptable butterfly species enjoys a diet mostly of tree sap, rotting fruit, and bird droppings.

Its physical features reflect alluring beauty: the upper-side ranges from deep red-brown to black, with striking white spots on the front wings and bands of bright orange-red on both pairs of wings.

red-admiral butterfly

Key facts about Red Admiral:

  • Habitat: Gardens, parks, wetlands, forests
  • Appearance: Deep red-brown to black, with white spots and bright orange-red bands on wings
  • Size: Typically 2-2.75 inches (5-7 cm)
  • Diet: Predominantly tree sap, rotting fruit, and bird droppings
  • Reproduction: Females lay single eggs on host plants
  • Lifespan: Adults usually live for two weeks to a month
  • Host Plants: Their favorite are nettles, such as stinging nettles (Urtica dioica)

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

The Painted Lady is an enchanting butterfly species that you can spot in Vermont.

painted lady butterfly

  • Habitat: They adapt well to a variety of environments, like open and disturbed habitats.
  • Appearance: Carrying a fascinating range of colors, they bear white spots on an orange, black, and brown backdrop.
  • Size: Adults span between 2 and 2.9 inches or 5.1 and 7.3 cm, a moderate size compared to other species.
  • Diet: Their diet involves nectar from a range of flowering plants when adults.
  • Reproduction: The females lay eggs on the leaves of their host plants.
  • Lifespan: The caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly within a month.
  • Host Plants: Preferred host plants include thistles, mallow, and hollyhock.

Making these butterflies more fascinating is their migratory nature, travelling between Europe and North Africa for reproduction.

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

Spicebush Swallowtail is a captivating sight to catch.

Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly

Here’s what makes this species unique:

  • Habitat: These butterflies are often found in fields, meadows, and woodlands around Spicebush and Sassafras plants.
  • Appearance: They are dark black and bear light-colored bands and spots, mimicking the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail for protection.
  • Size: They measures 3-4 inches (7.6-10.2 cm) across when their wings are fully spread.
  • Diet: Adults feed primarily on nectar, while caterpillars eat leaves of specific host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay spherical green eggs on host plants, which mature into red and brown caterpillars.
  • Lifespan: Adults live for about a month in summer, whereas overwintering pupae can survive up to 9 months.
  • Host Plants: Spicebush, Sassafras, and Redbay are some of their preferred host plants.

The Spicebush Swallowtail is not only beautiful, but also helps in the pollination of flowers, playing a pivotal role in their ecosystems.

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

When imagining the beautiful Vermont landscape, cast your mind onto the Black Swallowtail or ‘Papilio polyxenes’. This is not your average butterfly.

Black Swallowtail butterfly

  • Habitat: As your route takes you across open fields, keep an eye out. Black Swallowtails thrive there, along with suburban environments and even marshes.
  • Appearance: Their distinct black wings are complemented by vibrant yellow and blue spots. A sight for sore eyes.
  • Size: Having a wingspan of about 3.5 inches (8.9 cm), they easily catch your eye. Quite impressive.
  • Diet: Adults enjoy sipping nectar from flowers. Caterpillars mostly feed on various plant species.
  • Reproduction: They lay their round, beige eggs on host plant leaves, where caterpillars will later emerge to eat.
  • Lifespan: As an adult, the Black Swallowtails live for around 10 to 12 days, while the egg-larva-pupa phase is around a month.
  • Host Plants: Their favorite hosts are plants in the carrot family like Queen Anne’s Lace and parsley.

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Have you ever encountered the Gray Hairstreak? This butterfly is easily spotted all over Vermont.

Gray Hairstreak butterfly

Let’s dig deeper into this beautiful creature:

  • Habitat: This butterfly seeks open spaces. You could often find them in fields, gardens, and meadows.
  • Appearance: The Gray Hairstreak flaunts gray-brown wings. It has an ornate orange spot on the underside of its hind wings.
  • Size: Its small size, with a wingspan around 1 inch (2.54 cm), sets it apart.
  • Diet: It feeds on an array of flora, such as butterfly bush, red clover, and milkweed.
  • Reproduction: These butterflies have multiple broods every year, so their population is always buzzing.
  • Lifespan: The Gray Hairstreak lives for about one year, spending the winter as a pupa.
  • Host Plants: Various plants like cotton, mallow, and clover serve as their hosts.

Aren’t these features interesting? The Gray Hairstreak is truly a gem of Vermont’s butterfly species.

Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)

The Variegated Fritillary, a beautifully patterned butterfly, is worth your attention. They’re widespread, common, and a delight to observe.

Variegated Fritillary butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly favors open and sunny areas including meadows, fields, and gardens.
  • Appearance: They sport a delicate combination of orange, black and brown on their wings with a lighter underbelly, bearing a slightly silver sheen.
  • Size: They’re not too big; the wingspan typically measures between 1.9 to 2.8 inches (4.8 to 7 cm).
  • Diet: The adults sip nectar from a broad range of flowers, including milkweed and thistles.
  • Reproduction: Females lay single greenish-blue eggs on the host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan is short, generally living a few weeks in adult form, with some overwintering.
  • Host Plants: Passionflowers and violets provide sustenance for the larvae stage.

Next time you see a Variegated Fritillary fluttering through Vermont’s open spaces, appreciate them for their tenacity and adaptability.

White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis arthemis)

Behold the beauty of the White Admiral, scientifically known as Limenitis arthemis arthemis. This majestic species adds splendor to the rich tapestry of Vermont’s biodiversity.

White Admiral butterfly

  • Habitat: Predominantly inhabiting deciduous forests, they are also seen around wetlands and riverbanks.
  • Appearance: The upper side of the wings is strikingly black, adorned with broad white bands and blue spots.
  • Size: They exhibit a commendable wingspan, extending up to 3-3.5 inches (7.6-8.9 cm).
  • Diet: Nectar from small flowers and aphid honeydew constitute their primary diet. They also feed on tree sap and rotting fruit occasionally.
  • Reproduction: The females lay eggs on the underside of host plant leaves, ensuring safety for the larval stage.
  • Lifespan: An adult lives around 15-20 days, a fleeting yet fascinating phase of their life cycle.
  • Host Plants: They resort to a wide array of plants including willow, poplar, and birch for laying eggs. The larvae use these plants for nourishment during their metamorphosis-intensive period.


Your journey through the diverse world of Vermont’s butterfly species is undeniably fascinating.

Hopefully, you now have a deeper appreciation of these amazing insects and their critical role in ecosystem health.

Please comment on your favorite butterfly from the above list and why it intrigues 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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