Pennsylvania Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

picture of a Common Wood Nymph, part of the Pennsylvania butterflies collection

Welcome to the Pennsylvania butterflies section.

According to the Pennsylvania State University

One hundred forty-six species of butterflies and skippers have been reported in Pennsylvania. Of these, 24 have been documented only a few times and should be considered rare visitors.

Often when people think Pennsylvania butterflies they are also thinking Pennsylvania butterfly garden. Here’s a starter list of native flowers, shrubs and trees that act as hosts for native butterfly species.

  • Milkweed attracts the Monarch
  • Dill and parsley attracts the Black Swallowtail
  • Marigolds attract Sulphurs
  • Birch and cherry trees attracts Tiger Swallowtails
  • Thistles and borage attracts the Painted Lady
  • Willow trees attract the Mourning Cloak and Viceroy
  • Tulip Poplar trees attract the Red Spotted Purple
  • The Spice bush attracts the Spicebush butterfly
  • Dogwood trees and the Viburnum bush attracts Spring Azures

Penn’s Woods hosts an average number of butterflies. Most are very common species along the Atlantic coast area. The Common Wood Nymph pictured at the top of the page is one example.

One introduction page to Pennsylvania butterflies is not large enough to hold all the butterfly pictures. This introduction provides a list of Pennsylvania butterflies arranged by family. Visitors looking for butterfly identification help can press the green butterfly button for more information.

Butterflies: Whites and Yellows


picture of an Orange Sulphur butterfly
Pieridae is the formal name of the family that consists of the butterflies with white wings and yellow wings. Most states have more of the yellow butterfly species. Only the Cabbage White and West Virginia White are common in most of the counties. Olympic Marbles are found only in a few southern counties.

The picture shows an Orange Sulphur butterfly. They and the Clouded Sulphur butterfly are the state’s most common species.

Here’s a list of the rest of the white butterflies and yellow butterflies documented in the state.

Whites
Falcate Orangetip
Olympia Marble
West Virginia White
Cabbage White
Checkered White
Yellows
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Pink-edged Sulphur
Southern Dogface
Cloudless Sulphur
Orange-barred Sulphur
Little Yellow
Sleepy Orange
Dainty Sulphur

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers


picture of a Bronze Copper buterfly
Situated a bit further north, Pennsylvania might be the dividing line for states hosting more than one Copper butterfly. Most copper butterflies are found in the West. However, the presence of four in Pennsylvania is strong for the area.

Except for the Bog Copper the four species have a wide distribution in Pennsylvania. The picture shows a Bronze Copper.

While Pennsylvania hosts many Hairstreaks, only five species have a state wide presence. Corals, Banded, Striped, Whites and Grays.

Eastern-tailed Blues and Summer Azures are also common in all areas.

Blues
Marine Blue
Eastern Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Northern Azure
Summer Azure
Dusky Azure
Appalachian Azure
Cherry Gall Azure
Silvery Blue
Melissa Blue
Hairstreaks
Great Purple Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak
Olive’ Juniper Hairstreak
Brown Elfin
Hoary Elfin
Frosted Elfin
Henry’s Elfin
Eastern Pine Elfin
Oak Hairstreak
Northern’ Southern Hairstreak
Coral Hairstreak
Acadian Hairstreak
Hickory Hairstreak
Edwards’ Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
Striped Hairstreak
Red-banded Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
White-M Hairstreak
Early Hairstreak
Coppers
Harvester
American Copper
Bronze Copper
Bog Copper

Brush Footed Butterflies


picture of a side view of a Variegated Fritillary Butterfly
A quick look at the Brush footed butterfly list shows that a few genera such as Fritillaries, Commas and Checkerspots make up a large portion of the Pennsylvania butterflies population.

With the exceptions of the Gulf Fritillary and the Dianna Fritillary, they are all fairly common species. The picture shows a Variegated Fritillary.

Green Commas are not widely distributed and a few checkerspot species are also regionally located. Otherwise, brushfoot butterflies about in all areas of Pennsylvania.

Brush footed
American Snout
Monarch
Queen
Gulf Fritillary
Variegated Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Aphrodite Fritillary
Regal Fritillary
Atlantis Fritillary
Silver-bordered Fritillary
Meadow Fritillary
Red-spotted Purple
White Admiral
Astyanax’ Red-spotted Purple
Viceroy
Hackberry Emperor
Tawny Emperor
Silvery Checkerspot
Gorgone Checkerspot
Harris’ Checkerspot
Pearl Crescent
Northern Crescent
Tawny Crescent
Brush footed
Baltimore Checkerspot
Common Buckeye
Question Mark
Eastern Comma
Green Comma
Gray Comma
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Compton Tortoiseshell
Mourning Cloak
California Tortoiseshell
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
American Lady
Northern Pearly-eye
Eyed Brown
Appalachian Brown
Common Ringlet
Little Wood-Satyr
Carolina Satyr
Common Wood-Nymph

Pennsylvania Butterflies: Swallowtails


picture of a Canadian Swallowtail butterfly
Pennsylvania hosts nine separate swallowtail butterfly species. Most can be found throughout the state. The Palamedes Swallowtail is only found in a few southern counties. The Canadian Tiger Swallowtail in the picture is only found in counties that border the northern part of the state.
  • Pipevine Swallowtail
  • Zebra Swallowtail
  • Black Swallowtail
  • Canadian Tiger Swallowtail
  • Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • Spicebush Swallowtail
  • Palamedes Swallowtail
  • Giant Swallowtail