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Look For Our 10 Favorite Butterflies In Northern America

Butterflies can be found all around the world, there are over 700 different butterflies in Northern America, as per the North American Butterfly Association.

Some butterflies travel for thousands of miles/kilometers each winter, and many drink nectar, sucking it up with their straw-like tongues. Few eat tree juice and other organic substance found in nature and they are a part of a group of insects known as Lepidoptera. All these insects have wings covered in scales and are ectotherms, meaning that they require the heat from their surroundings to remain warm.

The most frequent places to locate butterflies flitting about are parks and gardens such as meadows, wetlands, woodlands or shrubs, and solar fields. Butterfly seeing (or butterflying) can be easy to do if you’re patient and prepared to venture into character a little. This may be an incredibly relaxing activity that could reveal the width of artistry found in nature, with more than enough to inspire.

How Do You Identify a Butterfly?

A butterfly is a winged insect that undergoes full metamorphosis (in other words, it goes from egg to caterpillar to pupa to grown-up). Butterflies belong to many insects known as the Lepidoptera, which contains both butterflies and moths. They have three body sections: the head, the abdomen, and the thorax.

Butterflies are benign and can’t bite or sting; a few species may harm plants in your backyard, but this is uncommon (at least once they have matured in their immature form!). They’re a striking and valuable part of life on the planet, so it is worth your time to have the ability to spot butterflies when you visit them!

There are over 700 different butterfly species in North America, and several reside in particular ecosystems that the average person infrequently visits. The butterflies which have adapted to man-made surroundings like gardens and parks are the ones you will see the most. Many of them are quite beautiful, and seeing them up close on a sunny day can be a real event. If you can determine the butterfly you are considering, the experience will be that much richer.

Common North American Butterflies

1. Tiger Swallowtail

Our first favorite of butterflies in northern America. The male of this species is black and yellow like a small tiger, and the feminine, often all black. The tiger swallowtail resides on the eastern side of the US, inhabiting the nation from top to bottom, and is so popular it’s been put on American stamps. These butterflies are likely to eat the nectar of flowers and drink water and minerals from mud. Be careful where you step-it can be resting down low.

The Fundamentals:

  • What is the scientific name? Papilio glaucus
  • What does it eat? Wild cherry, willow, and other trees
  • Can it perilously damage trees or plants? No
  • Is it rare? No, this species has a large variety.
  • Where does this occur? These species are present throughout the eastern US; there are similar species in North America.

2. American Painted Lady

The beautiful painted lady seems somewhat like a monarch in coloring but has another pattern, without as much black. Along with residing in North America, it may also be found Founded in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia, especially in Colombia, Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, the Canary Islands, and Hawaii. It’s known to migrate and favors spending time in open deciduous woodlands, meadows, and town parks.

The Fundamentals:

  • What is the scientific name? Vanessa cardui
  • What does it eat? The caterpillar feeds on almost 300 different plants, mostly in the Aster family.
  • Can it seriously damage trees or plants? No
  • Is it rare? No, this is among the most familiar butterflies in the world.
  • Where does this occur? This butterfly has a global distribution.

3. Orange Sulphur

The clouded sulfur and the orange sulfur (both members of this “clouded yellows and sulfurs” subfamily Coliadinae) can be tough to tell apart and frequently fly together, so we put them together heSeees dance across the grass.

The Fundamentals:

  • What is the scientific name? Colias eurytheme
  • What does it eat? Alfalfa and Several other low plants
  • Can it seriously damage trees or plants? Yes, sometimes.
  • Is it rare? No, this species has a large variety.
  • Where does this occur? This species is present throughout the eastern US.

4. Southern Dogface

Generally only found in the South, Southern Dofgace could be anticipated further north as climate change alters several species’ distribution. This is a large, showy, and fast-flying blossom that enjoys open areas and bright sunshine. They are legendarily tricky to catch.

Butterflies In Northern America

The Fundamentals:

  • What is the scientific name? Colias cesonia
  • What does it eat? Willows and other trees
  • Can it seriously damage trees or plants? No
  • Is it rare? No, this species has a large variety.
  • Where does this occur? This species is present throughout the eastern US.

5. The Viceroy

It’s tough to believe that this insect is totally irrelevant to the monarch. The viceroy has its name from its similarity to the popular monarch butterfly (they are both royalty–get it?). They are so alike that this butterfly’s recognization depends largely on a minor difference in the handling markings.

Butterflies In Northern America

The viceroy is among the most famous mimicry cases among North American butterflies (the viceroy’s families are almost black or dark blue). The thinking among specialists is that the monarch, which consumes milkweed, is made deadly from the caustic sap at the milkweed plant. This means that birds and other predators that had attempted a nasty-tasting orange butterfly previously will think twice when faced with a different one.

The Fundamentals:

  • What is the scientific name? Danaus plexippus
  • What does it eat? Milkweeds
  • Can it seriously damage trees or plants? No
  • Is it rare? No, but this species is at risk from industrialized agriculture.
  • Where does this occur? There are similar species across the world.

6. Great Spangled Fritillary

This bright orange butterfly wings quickly across areas and around forest edges in mid-to-late summer. Some researchers believe its orange color is intended to mimic the dangerous monarch butterfly’s colors; if so, that makes it yet another in the category of orange-butterfly mimic, which may also include over a dozen unrelated species.

Butterflies In Northern America

The Fundamentals:

  • What is the scientific name? Speyeria Cybele
  • What does it eat? Violets and other low plants
  • Can it seriously damage trees or plants? No
  • Is it rare? No, this species has a large variety.
  • Where does this occur? This species is present throughout the eastern US, primarily from the north; there are several closely related species in North America.

7. Zebra longwing

This beautiful butterfly is tropical, with a span that extends into South America. It can be seen in Florida and the southern parts of Texas; there are eventual migrations that also bring these butterflies further north.

Adults fly together at night in crowds of over 50, dispersing in the morning to nectar at various plants and—rare for butterflies—eat pollen from flowers. The caterpillars have a white base with black spines and get food from passionflower vines, whose lethal sap supplies them with chemical strength from predators.

The Fundamentals:

  • What is the scientific name? Heliconius charithonia
  • What does it consume? The caterpillar gets food from passionflowers; the adults get their food from pollen.
  • Will it seriously damage plants or trees? No
  • Is it rare? No, although it’s less common the further north, you go.
  • Where does it occur? American tropics

8. Giant Swallowtail

Like the pipevine swallowtail (above), southern species occasionally range as far north as Canada. The caterpillar closely resembles a massive bird falling, which would serve to deter birds and other predators. In the American South, these large caterpillars are usually called “orange dogs” to select food plants: citrus trees, particularly lemon and orange. Sometimes they can lead to damage to young trees.

Butterflies In Northern America

The Fundamentals:

  • What is the scientific name? Papilio cresphontes
  • What does it eat? The leaves of citrus trees
  • Can it seriously damage trees or plants? Sometimes
  • Is it rare? No, this species is usually common throughout its range.
  • Where does this occur? This species is most prevalent in the southeastern US.

9. Zebra Swallowtail

This gorgeous insect is aptly named, with black stripes on a clear white base. Similar to the giant swallowtail, it’s a northern representative of a group of butterflies with many varieties throughout the Neotropics. You will rarely find this species beyond the southern countries, but it will sometimes wander north, such as along the Mississippi River Valley.

Butterflies In Northern America

The Fundamentals:

  • What is the scientific name? Protographium Marcellus
  • What does it consume? The larvae eat the leaves of pawpaw trees
  • Can it seriously damage trees or plants? No
  • Is it rare? No, this species is usually common throughout its range.
  • Where does this occur? This species is most common in the southeastern US.

10. Cabbage White

Our final one of butterflies in northern America is not a real beauty, but this white insect is by far the most prosperous butterfly in North America. It was originated from Europe many years ago and has found a home anywhere from the backyard garden into the western mountains wilds.

Butterflies In Northern America

The Fundamentals:

  • What is the scientific name? Pieris rapae
  • What does it eat? Just about anything
  • Can it seriously damage trees or plants? Yes, especially kale and cabbage
  • Is it rare? No, this species has a large variety.
  • Where does this occur? This species is present throughout North America.
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