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
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.
West Virginia White
Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers
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.
Cherry Gall Azure
Great Purple Hairstreak
Olive’ Juniper Hairstreak
Eastern Pine Elfin
Northern’ Southern Hairstreak
Brush Footed Butterflies
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.
Great Spangled Fritillary
Astyanax’ Red-spotted Purple
Pennsylvania Butterflies: Swallowtails
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