Illinois Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

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picture of a Monarch Butterfly the state butterfly of Illinois

Fun fact: Illinois butterflies constitute less than ten percent of the total Illinois Lepidoptera population. Of the approximately 2000 butterfly and moth species in the state, about 150 of them are butterflies. One of the, the very popular Monarch Butterfly, pictured, is the state’s official state butterfly.

In the Chicago areas, butterflies can be abundant in butterfly gardens. About twenty different species can live year to year in the metropolitian area because their caterpillars or pupa overwinter.

The section presents a list of Illinois butterflies divided by families. It is accompanied by some pictures of representative species.

Anyone looking for butterfly identification help can press the green butterfly button for more information.

Butterflies: Whites and Yellows

picture of a Cloudless Sulphur butterfly, part of the Illinois butterfly collection
Pieridae is the formal name of the family that consists of the butterflies with white wings and yellow wings. The picture shows a Barred Yellow butterfly. Here’s a list of the rest of the white butterflies and yellow butterflies documented in the state.
Falcate Orangetip
Olympia Marble
Cabbage White
Checkered White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Southern Dogface
Cloudless Sulphur
Orange-barred Sulphur
Mexican Yellow
Little Yellow
Sleepy Orange
Dainty Sulphur

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of a Bronze Copper butterfly
The picture shows a Bronze Copper. They can most often be found near areas with water, including roadside ditches and ponds across the state.
Marine Blue
Eastern Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Summer Azure
Dusky Azure
Silvery Blue
Reakirt’s Blue
Great Purple Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak
Hoary Elfin
Frosted Elfin
Henry’s Elfin
Eastern Pine Elfin
Oak Hairstreak
ontario Northern’ Southern
Coral Hairstreak
Acadian Hairstreak
Hickory Hairstreak
Edwards’ Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
Striped Hairstreak
Red-banded Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
White-M Hairstreak
American Copper
Gray Copper
Bronze Copper
Purplish Copper

Brush Footed Butterflies

picture of an American painted Lady
Illinois hosts a nice variety of Brush Footed butterflies, as shown in the following list. Visitors can often many of them in the larger metropolitan areas around areas with flowers.

Keep an eye out for the Painted Lady in the picture. It is one of the most common butterflies in the world, often refereed to as the Cosmopolitan butterfly. Its global range can be attributed to the fact that the caterpillars are not picky eaters and will feed from many host plants.

Brush footed
American Snout
Gulf Fritillary
Zebra Heliconian
Variegated Fritillary
Diana Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Aphrodite Fritillary
Regal Fritillary
Silver-bordered Fritillary
Meadow Fritillary
Red-spotted Purple
astyanax Astyanax’ Red-spotted Purple
Hackberry Emperor
Tawny Emperor
Silvery Checkerspot
Gorgone Checkerspot
Harris’ Checkerspot
Pearl Crescent
Northern Crescent
Texan Crescent
Baltimore Checkerspot
Brush footed
Common Buckeye
White Peacock
Question Mark
Eastern Comma
Green Comma
Gray Comma
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Compton Tortoiseshell
Mourning Cloak
California Tortoiseshell
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
American Lady
Tropical Leafwing
Goatweed Leafwing
Northern Pearly-eye
Creole Pearly-eye
Eyed Brown
Appalachian Brown
Gemmed Satyr
Little Wood-Satyr
Carolina Satyr
Common Wood-Nymph

Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of a Zebra Swallowtail
The picture shows an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. They are very common because a variety of trees such as apple trees and cherry trees serve as larval hosts. Since they are basically the only swallowtail species in Illinois with yellow wings, identification is fairly straight forward. There’s always a catch. Some females have a dark form. They can be identified by the absence of white spots on the abdomen.
  • Pipevine Swallowtail
  • Zebra Swallowtail
  • Black Swallowtail
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • Spicebush Swallowtail
  • Giant Swallowtail

Butterfly identification usually begins with color. So, the butterfly section is split into nine different categories based on wing color and/or the butterfly family to help all visitors and members easily categorize and document their butterfly pictures.