Butterflies of Arkansas

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Family Hesperiidae

Common Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus communis)--female

Common Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus communis)--female 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on hollyhocks, "wild tea," Indian mallow, and other members of the mallow family (Malvaceae). Adults feed on the nectar of a variety of flowers, including asters, flea bane, and red clover.

Wingspan: 1 - 1 1/2 inches (2.5 - 3.8 cm)


Season: February - October


Description: These skippers are sexually dimorphic; the background of the wings of males is blue-gray, and that of females is black (shown in photos above). A median band comprised of white spots crosses the wings of both sexes.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)
Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Northern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades) 

 

Primary food: plants Larvae of the Northern Cloudywing feed on a variety of leguminous plants, including milk vetch, beggarweeds, and bush clovers.

 
Wingspan: 3.0 - 4.3 cm (1.2 - 1.7 in.)

 
Season March: - November

 
Description: The wings of the Northern Cloudywing, in addition to other closely related cloudywing skippers, is dark brown with several small, white spots. Due to the lack of more prominent markings, identifications of cloudywings to species level may be difficult. The cloudywing shown in the images above has been tentatively identified as the Northern Cloudywing based upon descriptions in the literature consulted.

Northern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades)
Hayhurst's Scallopwing (Staphylus hayhurstii)

Hayhurst's Scallopwing (Staphylus hayhurstii)

Family Lycaenidae

Eastern Tailed-Blue (Everes comyntas)

Eastern Tailed-Blue (Everes comyntas) 

 

Primary food plants: Caterpillars feed on the flowers, buds, and leaves of many species of plants in the pea family, including clover, alfalfa, and wild peas. Adults feed on the nectar of open or short-tubed flowers located close to the ground. These include: wild strawberry, asters, and winter cress.


Wingspan: 7/8 - 1 1/8 in. (2.2 - 2.9 cm)


Season: February - November


Description: The upper side of the wings of males is iridescent blue. Summer generation females are uniformly brown; spring females have a large amount of blue at the base of the wings. Hindwing have a single, narrow tail.
 

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on flowers and fruits from a wide variety of plants, most commonly those belonging to the pea family (Fabaceae) and the mallow family (Malvaceae). Adults feed on nectar from many plants, such as mimosas, milkweed, goldenrod, and white clover.


Wingspan: 1.0 - 1 1/4 in. (2.5 - 3.2 cm)


Season: February - November


Description: Wings are blue-gray in coloration with a large red spot near the single hindwing tails. The post-median line is white, bordered with orange on the inner edge.
 

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)
Banded Hairstreak (Satyrium calanus)

Banded Hairstreak (Satyrium calanus) 

 

Primary food plants: Caterpillars feed on the leaves and catkins of oak, walnut, and hickory trees. Adults feed on nectar from the flowers of many plants, including the preferred dogbane and common milkweed.


Wingspan: 1 - 1 1/2 in. (2.5 - 3.8 cm)


Season: April - June


Description: The hindwing has two tails: one long and one short. Upper surfaces of males and females are colored dark brown with a post-median band of dark dashes edged in white. Banded hairstreaks have a blue tail spot.
 

Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) 

 

 

Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)

Family Nymphalidae

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on a variety of species of passion-flower. Adults feed on the nectar of many plants, such as lantanas and composites.

Wingspan 2 1/2 - 3 3/4 inches (6.3 - 9.5 cm)


Season: Throughout the year in the gulf states; January - November in the North.


Description: The uppersides of the wings are bright orangish-brown with black markings and three white spots bordered with black located near the leading edges of the forewings. Large, silver spots decorate the undersides of the hindwings. 

Varigated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on flowers and leaves of plants in a variety of families, including passion flowers and violets. Adults feed on the nectar of many plants, such as butterflyweed, swamp milkweed, common milkweed, dogbane, and red clover.


Wingspan: 1 3/4 - 2 1/2 in. (4.5 - 6.3 cm)


Season: March - December


Description: The upper surface of the wings is tawny orange in color with thick, dark veins, black zigzag markings, and black submarginal spots. The edges of the hindwings are angled and slightly scalloped.
 

Varigated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)
Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) 

 

Primary food plants: Caterpillars feed on violets. Adults sip nectar from many species of flowers, such as purple coneflower, milkweeds, dogbane, ironweed, and thistles.


Wingspan: 2 1/2 - 4 in. (6.4 - 10.2 cm)


Season: May - September


Description: Great Spangled Fritillaries are large butterflies. Males are tan to orange in color on the upper surface with black scales on their forewing veins. The tawny-colored females are darker than the males. The underside of the hindwing has a wide, pale submarginal band and large silver spots.
 

 

 

Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon)

Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon)
Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

Gorgone Checkerspot (Chlosyne gorgone)

Gorgone Checkerspot (Chlosyne gorgone)
Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)

Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on sugarberry and on a variety of species of hackberry. Adults sip moisture from sap, dung, carrion, and rotting fruit.


Wingspan: 1 3/8 - 2 1/2 inches (3.5 - 6.3 cm)


Season: May - October


Description: The uppersides of the wings are brownish-red with white spots. Distinguishing characteristics of this species include the spots marking the undersides of the hindwings.
 

Common buckeye (Junonia coenia) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on leaves, buds and fruits of plants belonging to the snapdragon, plantain, and acanthus families. Adults forage on nectar from composite flowers such as aster, chickory, gumweed, knapweed, and tickseed sunflower.


Wingspan: 1 2/3 - 2 2/5 in. (4.2 - 6.1 cm)


Season: May - November


Description: The upper surface of the wings is brown. Forewings have two orange cell bars and two eyespots. Hindwings also have two eyespots, the upper one of which is larger and contains a pink crescent.
 

Common buckeye (Junonia coenia)
Northern Pearly-Eye (Enodia anthedon)

Northern Pearly-Eye (Enodia anthedon) 

Little Wood Satyr (Megisto cymela) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on grasses. Adults feed on honeydew of aphids, sap, and occasionally on flower nectar.


Wingspan: 1 1/2 - 1 7/8 inches (3.8 - 4.8 cm)


Season: March - September


Description: Two yellow-ringed eyespots occur on the upper and lower surfaces of the light brown forewings and hindwings, with two small, additional spots sometimes present on the undersides of the hindwings.
 

Little Wood Satyr (Megisto cymela)
Carolina Satyr (Hermeuptychia sosybius)

Carolina Satyr (Hermeuptychia sosybius) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on various grasses, including St. Augustine Grass, which is often used for lawns.


Wingspan: 2.5 - 3.8 cm (1.0 - 1.5 in.)


Season: Adults fly all year in the deep South.


Description: This butterfly is most easily recognized when the undersides of the wings are visible, as seen in the photograph above, as the dark brown upperside lacks any distinctive markings. Dark brown submedian and postmedian lines cross the undersides of the wings, and a row of dark eyespots ringed with yellowish coloration are located toward the outer margins of the wings. 
 

Gemmed Satyr (Cyllopsis gemma) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on grasses, including Bermuda Grass.


Wingspan: 3.2 - 4.3 cm (1.3 - 1.7 in.)


Season: February - November


Description: The upperside of the Gemmed Satyr is brown with small spots located along the outer margin of the hindwing. Note the purplish-colored patch with black dots located toward the hindwing margin on the underside of the speckled hindwing.
 

Gemmed Satyr (Cyllopsis gemma)
Common Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala)

Common Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala)

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed exclusively on hackberries (Ulmaceae).


Wingspan: 1 2/5 - 1 4/5 in. (3.6 - 4.6 cm)


Season: May - June to August. These butterflies often migrate.


Description: Snouts have long, forward-pointing labial palps resembling long snouts or beaks. Forewing tips are squared off. The upper surface is blackish-brown, and the forewing has orange at the base and inner margin with white spots on the outer portion. This butterfly shows dimorphism in the coloration of the undersides of the wings: one form is dark with a small amount of mottling, and the other form is light with a large amount of mottling.
 

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)
American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed upon many members of the Asteraceae, including yarrow, ragweed, and asters. Adults feed on flower nectar and sometimes aphid honeydew.


Wingspan: 1 3/4 - 2 1/4 in. (4.5 - 5.7 cm)


Season: March - October


Description: The upper side is colored with an uneven brown, yellow, and orange pattern, and the underside has two large eyespots and an intricate, networking pattern.
 

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on many trees of the Salicaceae, Betulaceae, Aceraceae, Ulmaceae, Moraceae, Oleaceae, Rosaceae, Tiliaceae, and Polygonaceae.


Wingspan: 6.9 - 8.6 cm (2.7 - 3.4 in.)


Season: Likely three flights during the warmer months of the year.


Description: This butterfly is easily recognizable by its purplish-black wings banded by yellowish-gold coloration at the outer margins.
 

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) 

 

Primary food plants: Caterpillars feed on leaves of plants belonging to the family Urticaceae (nettle family), including wood nettle, false nettle, tall wild nettle, and stinging nettle. The preferred food of adults is sap flows on trees, bird droppings, and fermenting fruit. When these food items are less abundant, they will feed on the nectar of red clover, common milkweed, aster and alfalfa, as well as other flowers.


Wingspan: 1 3/4 - 3 in. (4.5 - 7.6 cm)


Season: Two broods from March to October in North; winters from October to March in southern Texas.


Description: The upper side of this butterfly is black with square, white spots near the wing tips. The forewing has a red band down the center, and the hindwing has a red band along the lower margin.
 

Falcate Orange Tip (Anthocharis midea) 

 

Primary food plants: Caterpillars feed on plants belonging to the family Brassicaceae (mustard family), such as species of winter cress, bitter cress, and rock cress. Adults feed on nectar from flowers, including mustard and violets.


Wingspan: 1 3/8 - 1 3/4 in. (3.5 - 4.5 cm)


Season: March - May


Description: The hooked, or falcate, tip on the forewings is characteristic of this species. Both sexes are white with a black spot located on the leading edge of the forewing. Males may be distinguished from females by the orange spot located at the apex of the forewings (seen above). The undersides of the wings are marbled with yellowish-green.
 

Falcate Orange Tip (Anthocharis midea)
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on species of milkweeds, many of which contain toxins that are stored in the bodies of the caterpillars and later in the adult butterflies. These poisons are distasteful to many predators. Adult butterflies also feed on milkweeds, when available, and also on a variety of flowers, including dogbane, lilac, red clover, lantana, thistles, and composites, such as goldenrods.


Wingspan: 3 3/8 - 4 7/8 in. (8.6 - 12.4 cm)


Season: Four to six broods in south; these butterflies participate in mass migrations.


Description: The upper surfaces of the wings of males are bright orange with wide, black borders. Veins are also black, and a patch of scent scales are located on the hindwings. The upper sides of the forewings and hindwings of females are orangish-brown with wide, black borders and black veins, as well. White spots are located on the borders and at the apex of the wings of both sexes. Notice the bright 'warning coloration' of adults, which advertises to potential predators that adult butterflies may be distasteful. Images of male (left photo) and female (right photo) monarch butterflies were contributed by Dr. Jim Edson of the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
 

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) 

 

Primary food plants: Caterpillars feed on trees belonging to the willow family (Salicaceae), including willows, cottonwoods, and poplars. Adult butterflies feed on aphid honeydew, carrion, dung, and decaying fungi; later generations forage more frequently at flowers, favoring composites such as asters and goldenrods.


Wingspan: 2 1/2 - 3 3/8 in. (6.3 - 8.6 cm)


Season: May - September


Description: The upper surface of the wings is orange and black, resembling the Monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus. Characters used to distinguish Viceroys from Monarchs include: a black line across the hindwing and single row of white spots in the black band located at the edges of the wings of Viceroys. Viceroys mimic Monarchs so they get the benefits of looking like a Monarch (see preceding description of distasteful nature of Monarchs). For this to work, there must be fewer Viceroys than Monarchs - so it is less likely to find a Viceroy.
 

 

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)
Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) 

 

Primary food plants: Caterpillars feed on elms, hackberry, hops, nettle, and false nettle. Adults feed primarily on rotting fruit, dung, tree sap, and carrion, visiting flowers only when these food items are unavailable.


Wingspan: 2 1/4 - 3 in. (5.7 - 7.6 cm)


Season; April - September


Description: The upper surface of the hooked forewing is orange-red in color with black spots. (Winter forms have more orange and a longer, violet-tipped tail (left photo). Summer forms are primarily black with a short tail.) The underside is light brown, and the hindwing has a white "question mark" at the center (seen in photo on the right). The two images to the left are courtesy of Dr. Jane Dunn.
 

Red Spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) 

 

Primary food: plants Caterpillars feed on the leaves of many species of plants and shrubs, including oaks, hawthorn, wild cherry, willows, and basswood. Adults forage for rotting fruit, sap flows, carrion, dung, and sometimes for small, white flowers, such as those found on viburnum.


Wingspan: 2 1/4 -3 2/5 in. (5.7 - 8.6 cm)


Season April: - October


Description: The upper side of the wings is blue to blue-green in coloration, and is iridescent on the outer portion of the hindwing. The forewing has two orange-red bars near the margin of the leading edge.
 

Red Spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

Family Papiliomidae

Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on the leaves of a variety of trees, including wild cherry, birch, ash, and basswood. Adult butterflies are often seen visiting manure and carrion, as well as a variety of flowers (wild cherry and lilac, for example).

 

Wingspan: 3 5/8 - 6 1/2 in. (9.2 - 16.5 cm)

 

Season: Spring, adults by early April

 

Description: Males are identified by their yellow tiger-striped wings and hindwing "tails." Females may be yellow like males or black with shadows of dark stripes. Both female forms have several blue hindwing scales and an orange marginal spot
 

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on the leaves of shrubs belonging to the family Annonaceae, including young plants of papaw (Asimina triloba). Adult zebra swallowtails sip nectar from flowers of plants such as blueberry, blackberry, redbud, and common milkweed, as well as moisture from mud.


Wingspan: 2 1/2 - 4 in. (6.4 - 10.2 cm)


Season: March - December


Description: The upper surface of the wings displays stripes on a background of pale greenish-white, and the hindwings have long tails. This butterfly varies seasonally - spring individuals are small with short wings and tails, but summer specimens are larger with longer wings and tails and broader areas of dark coloration.
 

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)
Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on tree and herb Rutaceae (citrus family). Adults sip nectar from flowers, such as lantana, azaleas, goldenrod, bougainvillea, Japanese honeysuckle, and swamp milkweed. In addition, adults also drink moisture from mud and manure juices.


Wingspan: 4 - 6 1/4 in. (10.2 - 15.9 cm)


Season: May - September


Description: The forewings of these butterflies are black with a diagonal band of yellow spots, and the hindwings have black tails with a yellow spot on each. Larvae resemble bird droppings.
 

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on leaves of shrub and tree Lauraceae (Lindera benzoin (spicebush) and Sassafrasalbidum (Sassafras) are the two usual food plants). Adults sip mud and the flower nectar of Japanese honeysuckle, jewelweed, thistles, milkweed, azalea, dogbane, lantana, mimosa, and sweet pepperbush.


Wingspan: 3 - 4 in. (7.6 - 10.1 cm)


Season: April - October


Description: The forewing is mostly black with ivory spots along the margin, and the hindwing has an orange spot located on the costal margin and a sheen of bluish (female) or bluish-green (male) scales. The underside of the hindwing has pale green spots along the margin.
 

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)
Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on vines and herbs belonging to Aristolochiaceae, or the Birthwort family.


Wingspan: 7.0 - 13.0 cm (2 3/4 - 5 1/10 in.)


Season: Midsummer


Description: The upperside of Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies is blue with iridescent spotting. Females differ from males in the size of the spots - the spots are larger in females - and they also have less blue coloration than males.
 

Family Pieridae

Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole)

Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on plants belonging to the aster family. Adults feed on the nectar of a variety of plants, including asters, wild marigolds, and rabbitbrush.


Wingspan: 3/4 - 1 1/4 inches (2 - 3.2 cm).


Season: Throughout the year in extreme southeast; six months in North.


Description: The upperside of the wings of this butterfly, North America's smallest sulphur, are yellow with some black markings. A yellow patch is located at the base of the undersides of the forewings and black spots are located toward the outer edge. The hindwings of winter specimens are dusty green, and the hindwings of summer specimens are pale yellow.
 

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)(female, white form)

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on leaves of plants in the Fabaceae (pea) family, such as alfalfa, white clover, and pea. Adults feed on flower nectar from a variety of plants.


Wingspan: 1 1/2 - 2 3/4 in. (3.8 - 7.0 cm)


Season: March - November


Description: The upper surface of the wings of males are bright yellow with solid black edging, and the lower surface of forewing has some dark submarginal spots. The hindwing has a pink-edged silver cell spot. Two forms are seen in females: a yellow form with uneven black edging around yellow spots, and a white form with a greenish cast.
 

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice
Little Yellow (Eurema lisa)

Little Yellow (Eurema lisa) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on plants belonging to the pea family, including Partridge pea and wild sensitive plant. Adults feed on nectar from flowers in the aster family, such as goldenrod and asters.


Wingspan: 1 1/4 - 1 3/4 inches (3.2 - 4.4 cm)


Season: Late spring - early fall


Description: Wings are yellowish with a prominent red spot on the lower surface. Notice also the two distinctive small, black spots located at the base of the hindwing near the body of this butterfly.
 

Checkered White (Pontia protodice) 

 

Primary food plants: Larvae feed on a variety of plants belonging to the mustard family.


Wingspan: 3.2 - 5.1 cm (1.3 - 2.0 in.)


Season: Early spring to late fall


Description: The wings of this butterfly are whitish with dark smudges of color, or "checkering", located toward the outer margins. Females tend to have more yellowish tinting on the wings than males.
 

Checkered White (Pontia protodice)
 
 
 
 
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