20 Smalles Butterfly Species in the World

Welcome, butterfly enthusiast! You’re about to embark on an exploration of the 20 smallest butterfly species in the world.

Prepare to be amazed by these tiny wonders of nature, where size really does not determine beauty.

Western Pygmy Blue (Brephidium exilis)

Meet the Western Pygmy Blue, the world’s minuscule butterfly! Despite its small size, this creature carries a dynamic charm.

Western Pygmy Blue butterfly

So, let’s explore its lifestyle:

  • Habitat: Primarily, they dwell in salty wetlands, deserts, and wastelands.
  • Appearance: Its upper wings exhibit a copper brown shade, while the lower ones are bright blue. It has elegant white fringes on the wing edge.
  • Size: As small as 12mm, making it the world’s smallest butterfly!
  • Diet: Interestingly, their sweet tooth lures them to flower nectars and occasionally, to a decomposing fruit!
  • Reproduction: After mating, females lay their eggs on saltbushes, their primary host plant.
  • Lifespan: Although short— typically a few weeks to a month— they have multiple broods per year.
  • Host Plants: Primarily, the larvae feed on saltbush and goosefoot.

Isn’t it impressive how such a tiny creature can sustain a life so brilliantly in wilderness? They truly embody small wonders!

Eastern Pygmy Blue (Brephidium pseudofea)

The Eastern Pygmy Blue is among the world’s smallest butterflies. Let’s kick off the countdown with this tiny but awe-inspiring species.

Eastern Pygmy-Blue (Brephidium pseudofea)

  • Habitat: Typical habitats include salt marshes along the southeastern coastal regions of the United States.
  • Appearance: Despite its size, it’s hard to miss with its bright blue wings tipped with white and brown.
  • Size: This minuscule creature has a wingspan in the range of 0.5 to 0.75 inches, truly living up to its Pygmy name.
  • Diet: The Eastern Pygmy Blue has a sweet tooth and can often be found sipping on the nectar from pickleweed and other salty plants.
  • Reproduction: Like others of its kind, this species lays eggs singly on the buds of host plants.
  • Lifespan: These butterflies have a surprisingly short lifespan of just about a week.
  • Host Plants: The larvae prefer to chow down on a sea-blite or glasswort diet.

Isn’t it amazing how so much life fits into such a small package? Stay tuned as we flutter through the list.

Dwarf Blue (Oraidium barberae)

The Dwarf Blue, scientifically known as Oraidium barberae, is quite a sight to behold. This species sits amongst the crowd as one of the smallest butterflies in the world.

Oraidium barberae female uns Gamka Eco Estate B du Preez farmhouse 13 Dec 13

  • Habitat: Residing mainly in Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean, the Dwarf Blue enjoys coastal marshes and tropical locales.
  • Appearance: Its wings are dusted with a pale blue color, and its underbelly is white with black spots.
  • Size: Their minuscule size, to the tune of 1 cm in wingspan, makes them stand out.
  • Diet: Adult Dwarf Blues are nectar feeders, relishing on the sweet essence of various flowers.
  • Reproduction: These tiny marvels lay eggs on plants, especially saltworts and glassworts.
  • Lifespan: Overall, the lifespan is brief, around 10 days full of flying and feeding.
  • Host Plants: Its preferred host plants are primarily saltworts and glassworts.

To see one in its natural habitat is indeed a macro photographic enthusiast’s dream come true.

Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus)

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Ceraunus Blue? If not, allow me to introduce you to this little marvel.

Ceraunus Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: Mostly found in tropical and subtropical regions, Ceraunus Blue likes open, sunny areas including fields and roadside verges.
  • Appearance: The upper side of males is pale blue while the female’s is darker, almost brown. Both sexes boast eye-catching underwings with a pattern of spots.
  • Size: It’s one of the smallest butterflies in the world, with a wingspan of just 0.75–1.00 inches.
  • Diet: As adults, they savor the nectar of various flowers.
  • Reproduction: They reproduce throughout the year, with females laying eggs on flower buds.
  • Lifespan: Although the average lifespan is brief at less than a week, their successive broods ensure continued presence.
  • Host Plants: They prefer plants of the Fabaceae family, especially those in the pea and bean groups.

Now you’re a little more enlightened about this tiny wonder of the butterfly world. Fancy learning more? Stick around.

Eastern Tailed Blue (Cupido comyntas)

Imagine a flutter of powdery blue flitting through a meadow. It’s none other than the Eastern Tailed Blue. This tiny butterfly is one to behold.

Eastern Tailed Blue butterfly

Let’s discover more about it:

  • Habitat: They can be found in fields, meadows, roadsides, and even backyard gardens. Virtually any open area bordered by trees.
  • Appearance: Their upperside is bluish with darker borders and white fringes; underside is pale gray with blue near base with black spots.
  • Size: Small on a scale between tiny and large, their wingspan is 22-35 mm.
  • Diet: They feed on the nectar of flowers, also enjoying muddy puddles for nutrients as butterflies often do.
  • Reproduction: Females deposit their greenish eggs singularly on host plants.
  • Lifespan: Their typical lifespan is a few weeks.
  • Host Plants: A variety of legumes serve as their prime host plants, such as peas and clovers nature offers.

Small Blue (Cupido minimus)

Let’s talk about the Small Blue, a real gem among the butterfly species. Its scientific name, Cupido minimus, is a direct indication of its petite size.

Small Blue butterfly

Would you believe it’s the smallest butterfly species in the UK?

  • Habitat: Usually found in calcareous grasslands, it prefers locations with plenty of sunlight and shelter.
  • Appearance: It has a distinguished blue-grey underwing with tiny black spots. The males have bluish uppersides, whereas the females show off a darker-toned brown.
  • Size: The wingspan barely matches 1 inch (27mm), making it quite a challenge to spot.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies enjoy sweet nectar from flowering plants mainly kidney vetch, while caterpillars prefer legumes.
  • Reproduction: They lay their eggs on the underside of the host plants’ leaves.
  • Lifespan: From egg to butterfly, their life cycle typically spans over a year!
  • Host Plants: Kidney vetch is their main host plant. It’s where the female lays eggs, and the caterpillar resides until it changes into a chrysalis.

Olive Hairstreak (Mitoura gryneus)

This fascinating butterfly species, found mainly in North America, stands out with its unique characteristics.

Olive Hairstreak

  • Habitat: Olive Hairstreaks primarily inhabit pine and cedar forests, usually where their host plants reside.
  • Appearance: They flaunt a beautiful olive-green underside with thin white lines on the wings.
  • Size: These little creatures are tiny, only about an inch or smaller in length.
  • Diet: Adults feed on nectar from a variety of flowers, while caterpillars prefer the foliage of host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs individually on the underside of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: They enjoy a short lifespan of a few weeks, from larva to fully grown butterfly.
  • Host Plants: Juniper and Cedar trees serve as their main host plants.

Watch for Olive Hairstreaks next time you visit a pine or cedar forest. Their small size and unique green color make them truly one of the world’s smallest and interesting butterflies.

Cassius Blue (Leptotes cassius)

Welcome to a fascinating world of tiny butterflies. Let’s draw your attention to the Cassius Blue.

Cassius Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: Native to Florida and Texas, this butterfly is also found in the Caribbean and Central America. They favor open, sunny areas with plenty of host plants.
  • Appearance: With a light-blue coloration on its wings, this butterfly displays irresistible charm. Their wings also have white marks, creating a spectacle of beauty.
  • Size: One of the smallest butterflies. Adult wingspan is approximately 2 cm.
  • Diet: Caterpillars feed on the nectar of tender, young leaves of the host plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay singular, pale green eggs upon host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Adults typically live for around two weeks.
  • Host Plants: They’re particularly fond of peas (Pisum sativum) and clovers (Trifolium).

Isn’t it remarkable, how such a tiny creature, leads such a rich and vibrant lifespan? Now, let’s dive into another intriguing species!

Grass Jewel (Chilades trochylus)

The exquisite, Grass Jewel is indeed true to its name. Let us delve deeper into understanding this delicate species.

Grass Jewel - Chilades trochylus, Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique

  • Habitat: Native to Africa and India, this species has become accustomed to warmer climes.
  • Appearance: A blue-grey profile brightened by bands of white spots can be noticed in their wings.
  • Size: Remember, we’re talking about the smallest, the Grass Jewel tops off at merely 15 millimeters.
  • Diet: Larvae tend to munch on flowers and fruits, while adults feed on nectar.
  • Reproduction: Female Grass Jewels lay singular eggs on the undersides of host plant leaves.
  • Lifespan: Typically, an adult Grass Jewel lives up to a mere 30 days.
  • Host Plants: You’ll find them making use of Ziziphus and Paliurus as their host plants.

Pleasing to the eye and essential for the environment, this butterfly is undoubtedly a jewel in Nature’s crown.

Lesser Grass Blue (Zizina otis)

Meet the Lesser Grass Blue butterfly, an enchanting little creature. It hails from the Lycaenidae family, well known for their extraordinarily small size.

Northern Blue (Zizina otis)

  • Habitat: The Lesser Grass Blue enjoys a wide range, spanning from Africa, through southern Asia to the Pacific Islands. It’s highly adaptable, thriving in gardens and urban areas.
  • Appearance: These butterflies display a vibrant blue top-side, contrasted with a greyish brown under-side.
  • Size: Averaging about 15mm in wingspan, these creatures are truly mini marvels.
  • Diet: Nectar from low flowering plants is what they prefer. These tiny wonders are important for pollination.
  • Reproduction: The Lesser Grass Blue lays eggs on the flower buds of their host plants.
  • Lifespan: Their lifespan is quite short, usually a few weeks. This varies depending on environmental factors.
  • Host Plants: The small pea family species are their favoured hosts, with blue and white flowers being their favourites.

Remember, despite their small size, these tiny butterflies have a big role in maintaining our ecosystem, so let’s always respect their habitats.

Least Skipper (Ancyloxypha numitor)

Don’t be fooled by its name, the Least Skipper is far from insignificant.

Least Skipper butterfly

Here’s why:

  • Habitat: You’ll find the Least Skipper fluttering in moist, grassy areas across eastern North America.
  • Appearance: Sporting shades of orange-brown with a dash of yellow, it’s a sight to behold.
  • Size: True to its name, the Least Skipper is tiny. Its wingspan measures just 1.9 to 2.5 cm!
  • Diet: Just like you enjoy your coffee, this little fellow feeds on floral nectar.
  • Reproduction: A unique feature in the insect world, the female oversees the egg-laying process.
  • Lifespan: It’s short yet striking. The adult Least Skipper lives for about one week.
  • Host Plants: Finally, these diminutives butterflies love the wild grass, especially species like Switchgrass and Yellow Nutsedge.

The beauty of the Least Skipper lies not in its size, but in its radiant colour and mesmerizing flight.

Nickerbean Blue (Cyclargus ammon)

Let’s now take a look at the Nickerbean Blue butterfly, scientifically called Cyclargus ammon. This butterfly is as small as it is fascinating.

Nickerbean Blue (Cyclargus ammon) - Cuba - Jan 2010

  • Habitat: Nickerbean Blues are primarily found in coastal habitats of Florida, the Bahamas, and Cuba.
  • Appearance: They boast an attractive blue hue with hints of orange and dark black along the fringe of their wings.
  • Size: Their wingspan measures between 20-27 millimeters, making them truly one of the smallest.
  • Diet: They prefer to drink nectar from various flowers, often those native to their coastal homes.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on the leaves of host plants. The larvae feed on the foliage once hatched.
  • Lifespan: Though short-lived, their life cycle from egg to adult lasts about a month.
  • Host Plants: Their caterpillars feed solely on two species of plants – the Nickerbean and the Blackbead.

Cherish your encounter, if you get a glimpse of these petite wonders!

Coral Sapphire (Iolaus silas)

Meet the petite wonder of the butterfly world – The Coral Sapphire (Iolaus silas). It’s a remarkably small butterfly species that adds color to the macrocosm of nature.

Iolaus silas male Fort Pearson 22 May 16-2

  • Habitat: Naturally found in Africa and Asia.
  • Appearance: A beautiful combination of blue and white that stands out in a lush green backdrop.
  • Size: Justifies the saying ‘Size doesn’t matter’. With a wingspan ranging just 22–28 mm, it is among the tiniest wonders.
  • Diet: Feeds primarily on honeysuckle nectar and occasionally samples other floral flavors.
  • Reproduction: When you spot a cluster of light-green eggs on a mistletoe plant, the chances are they are the new genesis of Coral Sapphire butterflies.
  • Lifespan: Like many other butterfly species, it lives primarily for the reproduction cycle, with an average lifespan of a few weeks.
  • Host Plants: Finds mistletoe plants comforting not just as a substrate for laying eggs, but also as a juicy treat for its caterpillars. So, their favorite nursery and buffet – Mistletoe!

Isn’t it fascinating how such a tiny creature can carry so much magic within it? It truly is a gem of Mother Nature.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Meet the Fiery Skipper, a butterfly species with a name as vibrant as its appearance.

Fiery Skipper butterfly

Found abundantly in North and Central America, this butterfly thrives in urban and suburban areas:

  • Habitat: They prefer sunny, open spaces, making gardens, parks and lawns a sanctuary.
  • Appearance: Males are a bright, fiery orange with black spots. Females have a dull brown hue with an intricate pattern.
  • Size: Compact yet dynamic, their wingspan is 1.3-1.6 inches.
  • Diet: Nectar is their choice of nutrition. They feast on flowers like hibiscus, lantana, and verbena.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs on grass blades. They hatch into green caterpillars with dark heads.
  • Lifespan: An adult skipper lives for about 7-10 days. The whole process from egg to adult takes around 4 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Bermuda grass, crabgrass and St. Augustine grass serve as homes and food source for the larvae.

Short-tailed Blue (Cupido argiades)

The Short-tailed Blue is another remarkable species to consider. It’s known for its unique characteristics and captivating beauty.

Short-tailed Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: These butterflies are known to occupy areas with tall grass, such as meadows and forest edges.
  • Appearance: They are distinguished by their striking iridescent blue upper wings, with a hint of silver underneath.
  • Size: As suggested by its name, it’s on the smaller side, usually measuring about 1 to 1.5 inches.
  • Diet: The larvae feed on leguminous plants, while the adult butterflies mainly consume nectar.
  • Reproduction: The females lay their eggs on host plants during springtime.
  • Lifespan: They are relatively short-lived, with an average span of a few weeks.
  • Host Plants: The caterpillars primarily feed on various types of legumes.

This small butterfly presents a stunning view when it flutters around in its habitat. Its short life is brightened by the vibrancy of its wings and its unique life cycle.

Small Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

If you’re a fan of vibrant colors, then the Small Copper will certainly catch your eye. Also known as the ‘Common Copper’, this tiny creature possesses a strong sense of magnetism.

Small Copper butterfly

Here’s more about the Small Copper:

  • Habitat: Small Copper butterflies are widespread across different habitats including heathland, woodland clearings, and grassy meadows.
  • Appearance: With bright copper-colored wings, adorned with dark markings and dotted borders, these butterflies are easily identifiable.
  • Size: Their petite size, about 28 to 35 mm, makes them one of the smallest butterfly species globally.
  • Diet: Adults enjoy nectar from a varied range of flowers while their larvae feed on the leaves of dock and sorrel plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singularly on the underside curly dock leaves, which serve as the larval food plant.
  • Lifespan: Typically, they have a short lifespan of about 3 weeks.
  • Host Plants: Dock and sorrel plants mainly serve as their go-to host plants.

Charming, isn’t it? Who’d think so much wonder could reside within such a small creature.

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

Among the incredible species of miniature butterflies, the Small Heath stands out for its unique traits and distinct nature.

Small Heath Butterfly

  • Habitat: They’re often found in grassland habitats and scrubland across Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
  • Appearance: The Small Heath sports a subtle beauty, boasting brown wings with small eye-like spots on the underwings.
  • Size: The wingspan of this petite flier typically spans around 2.5-3.2 cm, making it one of the smallest species.
  • Diet: Adult butterflies sip nectar from a variety of flowers, whereas caterpillars feed on different grass species.
  • Reproduction: One female can lay up to a hundred eggs, which are laid singly on blades of grass.
  • Lifespan: The average lifespan varies significantly, generally living a few weeks as an adult.
  • Host plants: The Small Heath larvae feed mainly on Grass species, including Cocksfoot and Fescue.

This species exemplifies all that can be grand in the mini world of tiny butterflies.

Western Brown Elfin (Callophrys augustinus)

Let’s delve into the life of the Western Brown Elfin butterfly, a small creature with an interesting existence.

Western Brown Elfin butterfly

  • Habitat: This butterfly prefers mountainous areas, pine barrens, and bogs.
  • Appearance: With a color palette of dark brown and tan, you might miss this little butterfly as it blends seamlessly into its environment.
  • Size: The Western Brown Elfin measures 25-30mm in wingspan, definitely making it a resident of the ‘small butterfly’ club.
  • Diet: Larvae feed primarily on Bearberry and Stonecrop, while adults sip their choice of nectar from flowering plants available in their habitat.
  • Reproduction: After mating in Spring, females lay their eggs on the host plant.
  • Lifespan: Like many small butterflies, the lifespan is short, ranging from 2 weeks to a month.
  • Host Plants: It prefers using Bearberry and Sedum, among others, as host plants for its caterpillar stage.

As you see, these small creatures lead enchanting lives while humming a subtle tune of the universe.

Acmon Blue (Icaricia acmon)

The lovely Acmon Blue butterfly is a tiny gem that is lesser-known.

Acmon Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: This little butterfly is often found in sunny open areas, grasslands, and fields.
  • Appearance: Primarily blue, it encompasses bold black margins with a row of orange spots. The wings display a plethora of silver-white spots.
  • Size: It’s minuscule, usually measuring between 2.4 to 2.8 cm wingspan.
  • Diet: Adults feed on flower nectar while the subtlety patterned larvae feed on plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay eggs singly on host plants.
  • Lifespan: These butterflies have a short lifespan of around two to three weeks.
  • Host Plants: Interestingly, they have a proclivity for plants from Pea and Buckwheat families.

This tiny creature, in spite of its size, plays a vital role in the ecosystem. Their vibrancy adds a dash of beauty to our world.

Tiny Grass Blue (Zizula hylax)

Let’s look at the last wonder on our list.

Tiny Grass Blue butterfly

  • Habitat: Widespread across Africa, Asia, and Australia, these tiny marvels favor open areas, gardens, and grasslands.
  • Appearance: As the name suggests, they feature a bluish hue with darker borders, though there’s a slight tonal shift between males and females.
  • Size: The Tiny Grass Blue is true to its name – they measure a mere 0.5 to 0.7 inches (13 to 18 mm).
  • Diet: Not surprisingly, these butterflies primarily feed on nectar from various flowering plants.
  • Reproduction: Females lay their eggs on flowers and the caterpillars feed on floral and other soft parts of their host plants.
  • Lifespan: They live about 3 weeks as adults. Quite fleeting, aren’t they?
  • Host Plants: Plant species from the Acanthaceae family, like Barleria and Ruellia species, act as host plants for their caterpillars.

Just imagine this: An enchanting dance by these miniature beauties in the grass field under the sun. Quite a sight, wouldn’t you agree?


We’ve just fluttered through the colorful and fascinating world of the 20 smallest butterfly species on the planet. Isn’t it amazing how such small creatures can bring such beauty?

Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

Butterflies   Updated: July 3, 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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