Top 10 Beautiful Butterflies of the USA
Bright Colourful Fluttering Fairies
The sight of a butterfly gives pleasure to everyone. It is an exciting moment to watch a colourful creature that flutters around flowers, the majestic combination making it even more thrilling a visual experience. But such moments are short-lived and so are these creatures. Strangely, caterpillars may be considered harmful as they eat parts of the plants but the adult butterflies are considered important as their visits to flowers result in cross-pollination. Many of the species migrate during harsh weather conditions.
USA has its fair share of about 750 species of butterflies out of nearly 17500 species in the world.
This Hub will showcase top 10 beautiful butterflies of the USA, many of which are designated as State Butterfly/Insect by various US States.
#1. Monarch Butterfly
Monarach Butterfly is the State Insect of Alabama State. This 'nearly threatened' butterfly is one of the largest and the best known in the Northern Hemisphere. It is known as wanderer also because of its tendency to migrate even up to 2500 miles southward during seasonal changes and return northward in summer.
It is known as milkweed butterfly as its caterpillar starts life by eating milkweed. But nectar and fruit liquid is the common feed for the adult which is sucked from flowers or fruit. They have tawny-orange colour on upper side of their wings and beautifully arranged black veins and margins with two series of white spots. The male monarch butterflies can be identified by the black spot they have on the hind wings over a vein in either side.
#2. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly has acquired its name because of four black tiger stripes on each yellow fore wing of the male and familiarity in the eastern parts of the United States. Outer edges of the fore wings are black bearing a row of yellow spots. However, females are found in two forms with yellow like the males and also black with shadows of dark stripes. Caterpillars hosted by leaves of plants like cherry, tulip tree, cottonwood and willow. Nectar of flowers like wild cherry and milkweed are common for food of adults. Males are seen puddling.
It is the State Butterfly of North Carolina.
#3. Zebra Longwing Butterfly
Caterpillar of Zebra Longwing
The name is based on the stripped pattern like Zebras, black long wings but narrow with thin yellow bands and each one has a distinctive pattern, It is mostly found in southern parts of the United States but is found in central and north south parts also.The caterpillars have the passion of eating passion flowers. It tastes unpleasant and poisonous due to intake of toxin through passion flowers. But the adult butterflies enjoys the nectar though eat pollen also and normally have a longer lifespan.
It is the State Butterfly of Florida since 1996.
#4. Queen Butterfly
Queen Butterfly is one of the most colourful butterflies in North and South America. Peculiar black wing borders on orange or brown wings clubbed with two rows of white fore wing spots make it a popular butterfly.
Queen butterfly hatch on milkweeds and the caterpillars are black in colour with yellow spots and transverse white stripes. The caterpillars feed on milkweeds which have distasteful substance serving as deterrents for some predators. The adult butterflies consume nectar from flowers.
#5. Mourning Cloak Butterfly
Very dark red or purple black upper side of this beautiful butterfly of woodlands has bright yellowish border around the wings. Also there is a row of blue spots along the inner edge of border. This large butterfly is largely found in Eurasia and North America though it is known as Camberwell Beauty in Britain. The host plant for laying eggs in North America is generally black willow and some other varieties of willows. The preferred food is tree sap of oaks and rotting fruit. Sometimes they taste flower nectar also. They are powerful fliers and have tendency to migrate.
It is a State Butterfly of Montana since 2001.
What a close view of Mourning Cloak Butterfly!
#6. American Lady Butterfly
It has deep orange and black spotted wings with white spots on the outer wings. Its distinguishing feature is two large hind wing eye spots on the ventral side.
Favourite food of caterpillars of American Painted Lady Butterfly is thistle.
#7. Red Spotted Purple or White Admiral Butterfly
Red-spotted Purple and White Admiral Butterflies
Designated in 2008, the State Butterfly of New York is unique in having two different forms. Notable features of beautiful Red spotted Purple forest butterfly are red spots on undersides and also on top of the wings. The upper side is blue to blue-green. White Admirals have blackish blue upper side with white median bands on both wings. Caterpillars prefer leaves of trees and shrubs like cottonwood, oaks, willows, black cherries and birches. Adults like tree sap, rotten fruit, dung, mud puddles and also sometimes nectar.
It is common in many eastern parts of the United States.
#8. Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly
It is quite easy to identify this butterfly because of thin hairline tail protruding at each of the hind wing. Its beautiful colour also marks its distinction from others. It is also interesting to see the upper and the under sides of this butterfly. The upper side has dark purple wings and a broad border which is usually black. The lower outer parts of the wings have orange spots at each wing. But the colour of the lower side of the wings is quite different, ranging from pale gray to dark gray. Gambel oak is the host for this beautiful butterflies including its caterpillars. Adults have their diet in tree sap, honeydew and raindrops
It is commonly found in Colorado and many of the southwest parts of the United States. It was declared as State Insect of Colorado in 1996.
#9. Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly
The body of this lovely butterfly is dark brown and the wings are black bordered with orange, having white and orange spots. Knobs on its antennae are quite prominent. Caterpillars feed on White Turtlehead mainly and the adults like nectar from flowers like milkweed and wild rose. It ranges from Canada South to eastern United States.
It is a State insect of Maryland since 1973.
#10. Great Spangled Frittilary
Great Spangled Frittilary has orange coloured fore wings and hind wings with dark black spots. Females have darker colour than males. There are silver spots on the underside and the broad yellow band with silver triangles on the wings is another distinguishing characteristic of this beautiful butterfly. It covers a wide range in the North America and are found in the moist areas in fields, woods and meadows. Caterpillars eat leaves of violets plants but the adults prefer nectar from flowers of thistles, purple cone flowers and red clover.