Common Butterflies of
North America

You probably can count Common Butterflies in your backyard on your hands.

There are roughly 20,000 kinds butterflies worldwide.

More than 750 species live in North America north of the Mexican border.

It is estimated that 130 of these species occur as vagrants or strays.

Mainly along the Texas and Mexico border.

That leaves about 620 species found with some regularity and some of of these butterflies live in limited regions and are on the endangered species list.

Lists for your state or province may vary from a handful of common butterflies, a 100 different species or you can be in Texas where more than 400 species of butterflies are on record.

With all these butterflies, only a few may be considered common or at least considered Common Butterflies in your gardens.

United States and Canada butterflies are placed in the following Families, you will find your common Butterflies in these categories

Hesperiidae (Skippers)

There are more than 200 species of Skippers in the United States and Canada. Their name is derived from their erratic flight habits. A few physical characteristics separate them from all other butterflies, these including antennae that are usually hooked or recurved, and wing venation that usually is dissimilar to butterflies. The Giant Skippers of the southern and western states have larvae that bore in the stems and roots of yucca and similar plants. The larvae are sold as food in Mexico, and sometimes appear as canned products in gourmet shops in the United States.

Lycaenidae (Blues and Hairstreaks)

Most butterflies of this family are relatively small and sometimes quite colorful. Elfins are brownish in color that appear in the spring. Coppers are a group that are popular and found mostly in open areas of marshes and meadows. Hairstreaks often have delicate hairlike extensions on their hind wings. Blues are the smallest of the Family, and include the Pygmy Blue of the West, the smallest butterfly in the United States and Canada.

Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)

The families Danaidae, Heliconiidae, Libytheidae and Satyridae, which are sometimes considered separate families are included in the family Nymphalidae. One of the most prominent groups of nymphalids is the Fritillary Butterflies. Their underwings are usually marked with silvery spots. The Mourning Cloak is one of the few butterflies that overwinter as adults, accomplishing this by building up body chemicals similar to antifreeze. The Viceroy mimics the Monarch, a species distasteful to birds and other predators, and thus escapes being eaten.

Papilionidae (Swallowtails)

There are less than 30 species in the United States and Canada, compared with some 600 species worldwide. Most species are quite large, colorful and with tails on the hindwings. Included in this Family are the Parnassius butterflies that are typically white with colorful spots on the tailless wings.

Pieridae (Whites and Sulphurs and Yellows)

There are some 60 species in the United States and Canada, compared to about 1,100 worldwide. General colors in these mid-sized butterflies are usually white or yellow, while some species have orange-tipped wings or greenish marbling on the wings. The Cabbage White, perhaps the most common butterfly, is in this group.

Riodinidae (Metalmarks)

There are about a dozen species in the United States, and more than 1,000 in the world. Ninety percent of the world species occur in Latin America. They are small butterflies, often rust-colored, and only two species are found in the eastern United States.

The Monarch may be the most recognized butterfly in North America, but the Painted Lady covers more area geographically.

Not all butterflies are big and beautiful, however. A majority of of our butterflies are small and plain in color.

Common you might say.

They don't stick out.

Spicebush swallowtail

They don't make a splash.

There is nothing ostentatious about many of these butterflies.

Once you know what to look for and where to look, you can add these winged wonders to your list and maybe attract these common butterflies, and a few not so common butterflies in your flower gardens.

Here Are Some Common Butterflies You May Know

Monarch Migration South

Monarch Facts


Anise Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Giant Swallow

Pipevine Swallowtail

Spicebush swallowtail

Western Tiger Swallowtail

Checkered White

Clouded Sulfur

American Painted Lady

Painted Lady

Red Admiral

Pearl Crescent

Common Buckeye

Spring Azure


Gulf Fritillary

Great Spangled Fritillary

Variegated Fritillary

Gray Hairstreak

Endangered Species of Butterflies.

Karner Blue

Attract these Common Butterflies as well as the Not So Common

A Butterfly's World

Butterfly Plants

Butterfly Gardens

Butterfly Friendly Yard

Butterflies Mating

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