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Butterflies and Skippers (superfamilies Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea, order Lepidoptera, infraclass Neoptera, subclass Pterygota, class Insecta, subphylum Hexapoda, phylum Arthropoda, kingdom Animalia)

   

This page provides an introduction to butterfly identification by presenting information on some of our most common butterflies.  (If I've seen them, they're common!)

There are 46 superfamilies in the Lepidoptera order, and butterflies are members of only two: 1) the "true" butterflies (Papilionoidea) and 2) the skippers (Hesperoidea).   Members of the other 44 superfamilies are considered to be moths.

These classifications constitute valid taxa according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System.

True Butterflies (Papilionoidea superfamily)

The five families of "true" butterflies are 1) Brushfoots (Nymphalidae), 2) Swallowtails (Papilionidae), 3) Blues and Hairstreaks (Lycaenidae), 4) Whites, Orangetips and Sulphurs (Pieridae), and 5)  the Metalmarks (Riodinidae).  

Brushfoots (Nymphalidae family)

This is the most diverse butterfly family of all in appearance.  However, what they all have in common is something you'll easily overlook: their forelegs are shorter than their other legs.

Nymphalini tribe

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

 
American Lady, Durham, NC, 5/23/13 American Lady, Durham, NC, 8/22/12 American Lady, Boone Gardens, Watauga County, NC, 7/2/18 American Lady (dorsal), Durham, NC, 5/27/16   American Lady, Durham, NC, 4/25/12 American Lady, Durham, NC, 5/18/18 American Lady American Lady, Sandy Creek Park, Durham, NC, 4/8/11.  American Lady, Durham, NC, 10/17/12

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Painted Lady on Pickerelweed, Durham, NC, 8/27/19 Painted Lady, ventral wing view, Durham, NC, 9/21/14 Same Painted Lady Painted Lady on Common Boneset, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 10/4/17 Painted Lady, Boone, Watauga County, NC, 8/1/12 Painted Lady, Larkspur, Marin County, CA, 5/30/19 Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Southern Pines, Moore County, NC, 11/2/13

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

 
Red Admiral , Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 7/12/10 Red Admiral, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 7/27/15 Red Admiral, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC   7/22/07 Red Admiral, National Butterfly Center, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/30/17 Red Admiral at the side of my car, Flat Top, Peaks of Otter, 7/17/12 Red Admiral, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 8/2/15 Red Admiral, Durham, NC, 5/31/16 Red Admiral, Durham, NC, 7/15/15 Red Admiral, Durham, NC, 8/12/12  

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

 
Summer form Question Mark, Durham, NC, 5/23/15 Winter form Question Mark, Durham, NC, 12/27/14: note purple wing borders Question Mark, Durham, NC, 10/19/12 Question Mark,Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 5/20/10 Question Mark,  Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 5/15/17  

Commas (Polygonia comma)

         
Eastern Comma, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 5/15/19 Same Eastern Comma Summer form Eastern Comma, Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 6/9/07.           

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

         
Mourning Cloak, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 5/22/15 Mourning Cloak, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 3/18/10 Mourning Cloak caterpillar turning into a pupa, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 5/2/10          

Junoniini tribe

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

 
Mating Common Buckeyes, Fort Fisher Basin Trail, New Hanover County, NC, 9/25/17 Common Buckeye, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 10/9/15 Common Buckeye, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, NC, 8/12/11 Common Buckeye, Bailey Tract, Sanibel, Lee County, FL, 12/5/15  

 
Common Buckeye, Durham, NC, 5/29/15 Common Buckeye, Durham, NC, 10/1/13 Common Buckeyes, Durham, NC, 10/16/08 Common Buckeye, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham  County, NC, 10/18/14 Common Buckeye caterpillar, with exuvia still attached, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 9/28/17  

Mangrove Buckeye (Junonia genoveva)

 
Mangrove Buckeye, South Lido Park, Sarasota County, FL, 1/26/17 Mangrove Buckeye, Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel, Lee County, FL, 12/4/15  

Danainae subfamily

Milkweed Butterflies (Danaini tribe)

Monarchs (Danaus genus)

   
Monarch (Danaus plexippus), very worn. Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, Wake County, NC, 10/24/11 Monarch (Danaus plexippus), Durham, NC, 10/19/04.  Notice how the hind wing is pale orange, in contrast with most of the forewing.  These are common in NC during the late summer and fall during their migrations to Mexico. Queen (Danaus gilippus), Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, New Hanover County, NC, 9/15/15 Queen (Danaus gilippus), Myakka River State Park, Sarasota County, FL, 3/31/12 Queen (Danaus gilippus), dorsal view Queen (Danaus gilippus), ventral wing view    

 

         
Monarch Caterpillar eating Common Milkweed leaf, Durham, NC, 5/29/15 Monarch caterpillar on Common Milkweed, Durham, NC, 5/23/15          

Melitaeini tribe

Pearl Crescents (Phyciodes tharos)

 
Pearl Crescent on Black-eyed Susan, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 8/2/15 Pearl Crescent on small aster, Greenville, Pitt County, NC, 7/29/17 Female Pearl Crescent, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 4/24/06. These small butterflies are abundant throughout the summer in Piedmont NC. Pearl Crescent, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 9/16/16 Pearl Crescent, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 8/23/13 Pearl Crescents, Durham, NC, 6/8/12 Pearl Crescents on White Clover, Durham, NC, 5/3/18 Mating Pearl Crescents  

Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon)

Phaon Crescent, Fort Fisher State Recreation Area (Basin Trail), New Hanover County, NC, 9/14/15 Phaon Crescent, Port Aransas, Nueces County, TX, 2/20/14 Phaon Crescent, Sarasota, FL, 12/4/14

Northern Crescent (Phyciodes cocyta)

NOTE: This ID is in doubt because this butterfly was seen outside its normal range.  It was seen in the Blue Ridge Mountains at an elevation of about 4100 feet.

Northern Crescent, Glassmine Gap, Macon County, NC  5/28/13

Field Crescent (Phyciodes pulchella)

         
Field Crescent, Point Reyes Natural Area, Marin County, CA, 5/31/19.  ID confirmed by Ken Allison.          

Vesta Crescent (Phyciodes graphica)

Vesta Crescent, McAllen, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/30/17

Texas Crescent (Anthanassa texana)

Texas Crescent (Anthanassa texana), National Butterfly Center, Mission, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/30/17

Northern Checkerspot (Chlosyne palla)

Northern Checkerspot, Mt. Diablo State Park, Clayton, Contra Costa County, CA  5/8/15 Northern Checkerspot, Indian Valley, Novato, Marin County, CA  4/30/17. ID thanks to John S. Ascher.

Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis)

 
Silvery Checkerspot, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 9/15/13 Silvery Checkerspot, Durham, NC, 8/25/09 Silvery Checkerspot, Eno River State Park, Orange County, NC, 5/18/11 Silvery Checkerspot, Durham, NC, 5/28/19 Same Silvery Checkerspot  

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

 
Great Spangled Fritillary, Boone Gardens, Watauga County, NC, 8/17/15 Great Spangled Fritillary, Eno River State Park, Orange County, NC, 8/27/10  

Aphrodite Fritillary (Speyeria Aphrodite)

Aphrodite Fritillary, Boone, Watauga County, NC, 8/4/08 Aphrodite Fritillary.  Siler's Bald, Appalachian Trail, on both sides of the state line dividing North Carolina (Swain County) and Tennessee (Sevier County), 8/18/04.

Meadow Fritillary (Boloria bellona)

Meadow Fritillary (Boloria bellona), Boone Gardens, Watauga County, NC, 6/28/14

Bordered Patch (Chlosyne lacinia)

Bordered Patch, Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, Nueces County, TX, 12/1/17 Bordered Patch, Riverside Nature Center, Kerrville, Kerr County, TX, 5/28/10

Heliconiinae subfamily

Fritillaries (Argynnini tribe)

Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)

 
Variegated Fritillary, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 10/27/11 Mating Variegated Fritillaries, Flat River Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 8/15/10 Variegated Fritillary, Prairie Ridge Ecostation, Raleigh, Wake County, NC, 7/17/15 Variegated Fritillary on Firewheel, Pitt County Arboretum, Greenville, NC, 7/28/17 Variegated Fritillary on White Clover, Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 5/27/17 Variegated Fritillary, Durham, NC, 7/4/12 Variegated Fritillary, River Park North, Greenville, NC, 7/18/14 Variegated Fritillary, Prairie Ridge Ecostation, Raleigh, Wake County, NC, 8/10/17  

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

         
Gulf Fritillary, on a False Garlic flower at Fort Macon State Park, Carteret County, NC, 10/18/11 Gulf Fritillary , Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, New Hanover County, NC, 9/15/15 Gulf Fritillary (on an oak tree), Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, 9/28/10 Gulf Fritillary on Lantana, seen downtown Southern Pines, Moore County, NC, 10/24/12          

Heliconiini tribe

Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonia)

 
Zebra Heliconian, Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel, Lee County, FL, 12/6/15 Zebra Heliconian.  There were many of these (at least ten), mostly flying wildly around. Fort Macon State Park, Carteret County, NC, 7/22/08  

Limenitidinae subfamily, Limenitidini tribe

Limenitis genus

Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)

 
Red-spotted Purple, Durham, NC, 7/28/13 Same Red-spotted Purple Red-spotted Purple, Dismal Falls, Giles County, VA, 6/14/11  

Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)

         
Viceroy (Limenitis archippus), Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 9/11/12 Viceroy (Limenitis archippus), Durham, NC, 9/14/05.           

California Sister (Adelpha californica)

California Sister, Indian Valley, Novato, Marin County, CA, 4/30/17 Same California Sister

Libytheinae subfamily

American Snout (Libytheana carinenta)

American Snout, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Mission, Hidalgo County, TX  12/3/17.  You can see both palps, which give this butterfly its name. American Snout, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 8/16/13 American Snout on a bike, McAllen, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/29/17 American Snout, Durham, NC, 5/13/15 American Snout, South Texas Botanical Gardens, Corpus Christi, Nueces County, TX, 2/8/13 American Snout, Durham, NC, 4/27/16

Apaturinae subfamily

Emperors (Asterocampa genus)

Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)

         
Hackberry Emperor, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 8/8/10 Hackberry Emperor, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 5/12/14 Hackberry Emperor, West Point on the Eno, Durham, NC, 7/5/14 Hackberry Emperor, Durham, NC, 9/11/18 Hackberry Emperor, Durham, NC, 9/8/12          

Tawny Emperor (Asterocampa clyton)

Tawny Emperor, Durham, NC, 8/20/16 Tawny Emperor, National Butterfly Center, Mission, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/30/17

Empress Leilia (Asterocampa leilia)

Empress Leilia, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, 12/3/17 Another Empress Leilia, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, 12/3/17

Tropical Brushfoots (Biblidinae subfamily)

       
Common Mestra (Mestra amymone, Biblidini tribe), Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, Nueces, TX, 12/1/17 Mexican Bluewing (Myscelia ethusa, Catonephelini), National Butterfly Center, Mission, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/30/17.  Maybe not so common: its NCGR is G4 (apparently secure globally.) Another Mexican Bluewing. ID confirmed by David J. Ferguson.        

Victorinini tribe

White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae)

         
White Peacock, Bailey Tract, Sanibel, Lee County, FL, 12/6/15 White Peacock, Sarasota, FL, 12/4/14 White Peacock, Sarasota, FL, 1/24/17          

Satyrinae subfamily

Satyrini tribe

Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia)

         
Common Ringlet, Indian Valley, Novato, Marin County, CA, 4/30/17          

Carolina Satyr  (Hermeuptychia sosybius)

 
Mating Carolina Satyrs, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 8/20/13 Carolina Satyr, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 10/9/15  

Gemmed Satyr (Cyllopsis gemma)

Gemmed Satyr, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 10/8/11

Little Wood Satyr (Megisto cymela)

 
Little Wood Satyr.  Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 6/3/08 Little Wood Satyr, dorsal view.  Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 5/24/13 Same Little Wood Satyr, ventral view Little Wood Satyr (ventral), Springer's Point, Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 5/12/09 Same Little Wood Satyr (dorsal) Little Wood Satyr, Durham, NC, 5/18/12  

Northern Pearly Eye (Enodia anthedon)

         
Northern Pearly Eye fresh from chrysalis, Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 5/15/10 Northern Pearly Eye, Durham, NC, 9/2/12 Northern Pearly Eye, Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 8/7/10 Northern Pearly Eye, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 8/2/11 Northern Pearly Eye.  Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 8/18/08 Northern Pearly Eye, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 7/27/15          

Southern Pearly Eye (Enodia portlandia)

Southern Pearly Eye, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 9/16/15 Southern Pearly Eye, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 9/28/10

Creole Pearly Eye (Enodia creola)

         
Creole Pearly Eye, Congaree National Park, Richland County, SC, 4/30/11          

Appalachian Brown (Satyrodes appalachia)

         
Appalachian Brown, Durham, NC, 5/24/16 Appalachian Brown, Durham, NC, 5/16/16 Appalachian Brown, Durham, NC, 5/23/13 Appalachian Brown, Sandy Creek Park, Durham, NC, 8/25/15 Appalachian Brown, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 9/9/12 Appalachian Brown, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 9/2/11 Appalachian Brown, Durham, NC, 9/19/11 Appalachian Brown, one of two that I saw, Durham, NC, 5/27/15 Appalachian Brown, Durham, NC, 6/4/13 Appalachian Brown, Durham, NC, 7/27/14          

Common Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala)

Common Wood Nymph. Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 7/9/08 Common Wood Nymph, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 8/8/10

Swallowtails (Papilio genus, Papilionini tribe, Papilioninae subfamily, Papilionidae family)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Durham, 8/13/18 Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Durham, 8/20/03.  Some females look similar, while others are blackish, but with the distinctive Tiger Swallowtail stripe pattern.  See these two forms of female Eastern Tiger Swallowtails. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar, Indian Creek Trail, Jordan Lake, Chatham County, NC, 9/3/06.  To judge from the threads on either side, it may be about to become a chrysalis. Same Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar

Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus)

         
Western Tiger Swallowtail          

Palamedes Swallowtail (Papilio palamedes)

 
Palamedes Swallowtail (Papilio palamedes), Tyrrell County, NC, 9/25/04.  Very fond of swamps, very common on the NC coast, rarely seen inland.  

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Black Swallowtail, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 5/10/12 Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes), Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 4/18/19 Black Swallowtail, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington, New Hanover County,  ovipositing (laying eggs).

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

Zebra Swallowtail, Durham, NC, 3/30/16. This butterfly typically stays in the Deep South, but is occasionally seen in Piedmont NC. Zebra Swallowtail on Common Milkweed, Durham, NC, 5/31/18 Another Zebra Swallowtail, Durham, NC, 5/31/18 Zebra Swallowtail on White Clover, Durham, NC, 5/31/18 Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus), Durham, 8/9/04.  Zebra Swallowtail, Flat River Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 5/22/15

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

 
Female Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor), Durham, 8/4/04.  Seen mostly in the NC mountains, much less commonly in the Piedmont. Spicebush Swallowtail, Raulston Arboretum, 8/19/03.  

Giant Swallowtails (Papilio cresphontes)

         
Giant Swallowtail, Waveland, Hancock County, 10/14/17 Same Giant Swallowtail          

Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon)

         
Anise Swallowtail, seen in a field outside the residential area, San Anselmo, Marin County, NC, 4/29/17          

The Whites, Orangetips, Yellows, and Sulphurs (Pieridae) family

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

Cabbage White:  Pictured is an adult and a small larva on one of their favorite foods: cabbage.  These butterflies are major cabbage family pests, but are not often seen away from these crops. Cabbage White (Pieris rapae), Durham, NC, 11/5/14 Cabbage White, Boone Gardens, Watauga County, NC, 8/17/15

Falcate Orangetip (Anthocharis midea)

Falcate Orangetip male.  These are very common in the early spring (late March and early April in the Piedmont) but are generally not seen at other times.  The females lack orange wing tips.

Great Southern White (Ascia monuste)

Great Southern White on Plains Fleabane, Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie's Pasture, Nueces County, TX  2/23/14

Checkered White (Pontia protodice)

Checkered White, Port Aransas Nature Preserve East, Nueces, TX, 2/25/14 Checkered White, the dominant "white" (Pierinae subfamily) butterfly of the western US.  Riverside Nature Center, Kerrville, Kerr County, TX, 5/27/10 Female Checkered White, dorsal view, Jordan Lake Dam, Moncure, Chatham County, NC, 9/20/10 Same female Checkered White, ventral view, Jordan Lake Dam, Moncure, Chatham County, NC, 9/20/10 Male Checkered White, ventral view,Jordan Lake Dam, Moncure, Chatham County, NC, 9/20/10 Checkered White, with what seems to be a bee in the foreground.  It isn't clearly a male or female, might be a faded female. Jordan Lake Dam, Moncure, Chatham County, NC, 9/20/10 New metamorph male Checkered White, or with deformed wing. Jordan Lake Dam, Moncure, Chatham County, NC, 9/20/10 Female Checkered White. Jordan Lake Dam, Moncure, Chatham County, NC, 9/20/10Photo by Karl D. Gottschalk

Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)

A common butterfly in the Piedmont and mountains of NC, and also farther north.  A significant proportion of these butterflies are albinos, and some look green in late winter or gray in the fall in the Piedmont and on the coast.

 
Orange Sulphur, Durham, NC, 10/14/08 Orange Sulphur, Durham, 5/3/06.  A classic white form Orange Sulphur.  Note the prominent pink border. Mount Mitchell summit, Yancey County, NC, 7/9/05 Orange Sulphur, Durham, NC, 10/31/13 Orange Sulphur, Greenville, NC, 2/16/06 Orange Sulphur, Durham, NC, 2/21/07  

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)

 
Clouded Sulphur, Asheville, Buncombe County, NC 5/25/04.   

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

 
Somehow this eclosing female Cloudless Sulphur got rotated 90° by the thumbnail software.  Third Fork Creek Trail, Durham, NC, 9/12/12 Male Cloudless Sulphur, maybe Coliadinae subfamily), Duke Gardens, 9/17/05.  These abundant summer butterflies fly rapidly, often at high altitudes.  

Orange-barred Sulphur (Phoebis philea)

 
Orange-barred Sulphur, New Orleans, LA, 10/24/08   

Sleepy Orange (Eurema nicippe)

This species has four basic wing patterns, typically (but not always) appearing at different times of the year.

Sleepy Oranges and Pearl Crescents puddling, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 9/11/12 Sleepy Orange, Prairie Ridge Ecostation, Raleigh, Wake County, NC, 9/10/16.  Anomalous pattern. Sleepy Orange, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 10/18/14.  Another anomalous pattern. Sleepy Orange, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 7/27/15      

 

Sleepy Orange, downtown Southern Pines, Moore County, NC, 8/12/15 Sleepy Orange, River Park North, Greenville, Pitt County, NC, 7/18/14 Sleepy Orange with Stilt Bug, Pitt County Arboretum, Greenville, NC, 7/26/17 Sleepy Orange, South Tar River Greenway, Greenville, Pitt County, NC, 7/28/17 Sleepy Orange, Sandy Creek Park, Durham, NC, 8/25/15

 

         
Sleepy Orange, Pitt County Arboretum, Greenville, NC, 7/14/18 Sleepy Orange, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 9/14/10 Sleepy Orange visiting a Salt Marsh Mallow, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 8/16/18 Sleepy Orange, Little Scaly Mountain, Macon County, NC, 8/19/04.  There is a lot of variation in wing markings for this species.  Sleepy Orange on white morning glory, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 9/11/12          

 

         
Sleepy Orange, Jordan Lake, Chatham County, NC, 8/30/15 Sleepy Orange visiting a small morning glory, South Tar River Greenway, Greenville, Pitt County, NC, 7/28/17 Sleepy Orange, Penny Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 8/8/10 Sleepy Orange, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 8/16/13 Sleepy Orange, Durham, NC, 9/3/13          

 

Sleepy Orange on Firewheel, Pitt County Arboretum, Greenville, NC, 7/17/14 Sleepy Orange, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 9/9/12 Sleepy Orange on wingstem, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 9/14/13

 

         
Sleepy Orange on Carolina Ironweed, Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve, Southern Pines, Moore County, NC, 10/23/12 Sleepy Orange, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 10/16/12 Sleepy Orange (winter form), Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve, Southern Pines, Moore County, NC, 10/5/11 Sleepy Orange, Fort Fisher, New Hanover County, NC, 11/12/13 Sleepy Orange, North River Park, Greenville, Pitt County, NC, 11/12/15 Sleepy Orange, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 10/22/14          

Little Yellow (Pyrisitia lisa, recently known as Eurema lisa, or vice versa!)

         
Little Yellow, at roadside, northern Durham County, NC, 8/15/10, flushed out by Randy Emmitt Little Yellow, Buccaneer State Park, Waveland, Hancock County, MS, 10/13/17 Little Yellow, Buccaneer State Park, Waveland, Hancock County, MS, 10/18/13 Little Yellow on Hairy White Oldfield Aster, Durham, NC, 10/22/12 Little Yellow, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 10/16/12          

Southern Dogface (Zerene cesonia)

         
Southern Dogface, McAllen, Hidalgo County, TX, 12/2/17.  Seen in a residential neighborhood. Southern Dogface, National Butterfly Center, Mission, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/30/17          

Barred Yellow (Eurema daira)

 
Barred Yellow courting pair, Sarasota, FL, 12/4/14 Barred Yellow (dorsal view), Sarasota, FL, 12/2/14 Barred Yellow (dry season form), Sarasota, FL, 12/2/14 Barred Yellow (dry season form), South Lido Park, Sarasota County, FL, 12/2/14 Barred Yellow (dry season form), Causeway Islands Park (Island A), Lee County, FL, 12/5/15  

Mimosa Yellow (Eurema nise)

 
Mimosa Yellow, San Antonio Botanical Garden, Bexar County, TX, 5/26/10  

Large Orange Sulphur (Phoebis agarithe)

         
Large Orange Sulphur, McAllen, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/29/17          

Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole)

         
Dainty Sulphur, Durham, NC, 9/27/12 Same Dainty Sulphur Dainty Sulphur, National Butterfly Center, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/30/17 Same Dainty Sulphur          

Gossamer-Winged Butterfly (Blues and Hairstreaks) Family

These small butterflies are easy to overlook unless they land on flowers.

Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)

         
Red-banded Hairstreak, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 8/16/13 Red-banded Hairstreak, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 3/8/17          

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Gray Hairstreak, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 7/16/15 Gray Hairstreak, Pitt County Arboretum, Greenville, NC, 9/26/13 Gray hairstreak, Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 9/2/06

Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak (Strymon istapa)

Mallow Scrub- Hairstreak, McAllen, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/30/17

Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak (Strymon bazochii)

 
Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak, McAllen, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/30/18.  ID thanks to Cliff Ivy. Same Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak  

Banded Hairstreak (Satyrium calanus)

Banded Hairstreak, Third Fork Creek Trail, Durham, NC, 6/21/13 Banded Hairstreak, McAfee's Knob, Roanoke, VA, 6/15/11 Banded Hairstreak, Durham, NC, 6/10/08

White-M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album)

 
White-M Hairstreak, Indian Creek Wildlife Observation Trail, Chatham County, NC, 3/10/06.  The dorsal side of these butterflies' wings has a deeply saturated blue color visible when they are flying but never after they land. White-M Hairstreak, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Mangum, Durham County, NC, 10/10/11.  Part of the near hindwing (including the bottom half of the red spot) has been torn off, showing the deep blue dorsal side on the far hindwing. White-M Hairstreak, Eno River State Park, Orange County, NC, 4/14/16  

Harvester (Feniseca tarquinius)

Harvester, Boone, Watauga County, NC, 8/6/08.  Seen flying wildly about over the Community Trail, then hid in the vegetation on the side. Harvester, dorsal view, Duke Forest, Korstian Division, Orange County, NC, 5/3/06

Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus)

Great Purple Hairstreak, Lake Jordan Dam Visitors Center, Chatham County, NC, 9/25/05.  Thanks to Jeff Pippen for reporting its appearance there. Great Purple Hairstreak, Milltail Road, mainland Dare County, NC, 10/6/05.

Brown Elfin (Callophrys augustinus)

Brown Elfin, Occoneechee Mountain Natural Area, Orange County, NC, 4/6/14

Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici)

Henry's Elfin, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 3/7/17

Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus)

Juniper Hairstreak, Durham, 7/4/03 Juniper Hairstreak, Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 5/10/06, seen in an area with many Red Cedars. Juniper Hairstreak, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 4/20/07.  Seen along Eno River flying above leaf litter. Juniper Hairstreak, Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment, Durham County, NC, 5/22/15

Eastern Tailed Blue (Everes comyntas)

 
Eastern Tailed Blue, Durham, NC, 5/29/15 Eastern Tailed Blue, Durham, NC, 9/22/14 Female Eastern Tailed-Blue (I caught a glimpse of the dark dorsal side of the wings), Durham, NC, 5/29/14 Male Eastern Tailed-Blue, Durham, NC, 4/29/15 Male Eastern Tailed-Blue, Durham, NC, 3/29/17 Female Eastern Tailed Blue, Durham, NC, 4/11/12 Eastern Tailed Blue, Durham, NC, 4/18/10.  Has both male and female coloring, but is probably female Eastern Tailed-Blue, another with puzzling coloring: male or female?  Durham, NC, 4/11/15  

Azures (Celastrina genus)

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon), Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Rd. access, Orange County, NC, 2/28/06. This butterfly had the richest blue of any azure I've seen. Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta), Durham, 5/27/05.

Western Pygmy Blue (Brephidium exilis)

         
Western Pygmy Blue on another Plains Fleabane (note unrolling petals).  This is the smallest butterfly in North America.  Port Aransas, Nueces, TX, 2/23/14          

Cassius Blue (Leptotes cassius)

Cassius Blue, Bailey Tract, Sanibel, Lee County, FL, 12/5/15 Cassius Blue, Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel, Lee County, FL, 12/6/15 Cassius Blue, McAllen, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/29/17

Ceraunus Blue (Hemiargus ceraunus)

         
Ceraunus Blue, dorsal view, South Lido Park, Sarasota County, FL, 4/1/12 Same Ceraunus Blue, ventral view          

Skippers (Hesperioidea superfamily, Hesperiidae family)

The other butterfly superfamily, the skippers, is comprised of one family, the Hesperiidae, which in turn is divided into five subfamilies: 1) Spreadwing Skippers (Pyrginae), 2) Grass Skippers (Hesperiinae), 3) Heteropterinae (Arctic Skippers), 4) Megathyminae, and 5) Pyrrhopyrginae.

Spreadwing Skippers (Pyrginae subfamily)

These are relatively large skippers that look somewhat like "true" butterflies. 

Checkered Skippers (Pyrgus genus)

   
Tropical Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus oileus), McAllen, Nueces County, TX, 12/2/17 Tropical Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus oileus), National Butterfly Center, Mission, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/30/17 Female Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus genus), San Antonio Botanical Garden, Bexar County, TX, 5/26/10.  It's either a White Checkered Skipper (P. albescens) or a Common Checkered Skipper (P. communis); this view is not enough to distinguish them. The White Checkered Skipper seems to be taking over the territory of the Common Checkered Skipper.  Males have more white on their wings than females. Checkered skipper (Pyrgus genus), Larkspur, Marin County, NC, 9/7/13 Checkered Skipper (Pyrgus genus), Durham, NC, 10/7/07    

Brown Longtail (Urbanus Procne)

         
Brown Longtail, National Butterfly Center, Mission, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/30/17          

Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)

Long-tailed Skipper, Gulfport, Harrison County, MS, 10/14/17 I saw this Long-Tailed Skipper on Lantana flowers in downtown Bay St. Louis, Hancock County, MS, on 10/7/04.  It's missing its right "tail."

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

Silver-spotted Skipper, Boone, Watauga County, NC, 7/19/13

Horace's Duskywing (Erynnis genus)

Female Horace's Duskywing (Erynnis horatio), Durham, 6/25/04. This is a common summer butterfly around here. Females have more elaborate wing patterns than males.

Juvenal's Duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis)

         
Juvenal's Duskywing, Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, Durham County, NC, 4/25/05.  This is a common spring butterfly here.  As with Horace's Duskywings, female wing patterns are more elaborate than that of males.          

Wild Indigo Duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae)

Wild Indigo Duskywing, Duke Gardens, Durham, NC, 8/18/07.  ID verified by Jeff Pippen.

Funereal Duskywing (Erynnis funerealis)

   
Funereal Duskywing, San Antonio Botanical Garden, Bexar County, TX, 5/26/10    

Sleepy Duskywing (Erynnis brizo)

         
Sleepy Duskywing (Erynnis brizo), Moore's Knob Trail near summit, Hanging Rock State Park, Stokes County, NC, 4/10/10          

Hoary Edge (Achalarus lyciades)

 
Hoary Edge, Asheboro, NC, 8/18/07  

Northern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades)

Northern Cloudywing, Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, 5/29/05

Southern Cloudywing (Thorybes bathyllus)

Southern Cloudywing, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 4/14/06

Common Sootywing (Phalisora catullus)

Common Sootywing (Phalisora catullus), Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, Wake County, NC, 4/13/07 Common Sootywing, north Durham, NC, 8/15/10. Discovered and IDed by Randy Emmitt

Grass Skippers (Hesperiinae subfamily)

Grass skipper identification can be a complex process.  Skippers tend to be sexually dimorphous, i.e., males and females look strikingly different, and change the arrangement of their wings so that only the dorsal ("top" ) or ventral ("bottom" or "side" view) of these wings can be seen from any one angle.  In addition, both wear and the season the adult emerges in can change the skipper's appearance dramatically. 

Lace-winged Roadside-Skipper (Amblyscirtes aesculapius)

Lace-winged Roadside Skipper, I'on Swamp, Francis Marion National Forest, Charleston County, SC, 3/29/06.  This skipper looked very much like a Carolina Satyr or a Gemmed Satyr in flight. Lace-winged Roadside Skipper, Riverbend Park, Catawba County, NC, 9/24/09

Swarthy Skipper (Nastra lherminier)

         
Swarthy Skipper, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 8/23/13          

Byssus Skipper (Problema byssus)

         
Byssus Skipper, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 9/4/18.  Not part of any exhibit.  ID thanks to Cliff Ivy.          

Whirlabout (Polites vibex)

         
Male Whirlabout, McAllen, Hidalgo County, TX, 11/29/17          

Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius)

Peck's Skipper, Boone, Watauga County, NC, 8/4/08 Peck's Skipper, Boone Gardens, Watauga County, NC, 8/17/15 Yet another Peck's Skipper seen that day at that place

Tawny-edged Skipper (Polites themistocles)

North Carolina Botanical Garden,8/26/05 Same skipper NC Botanical Garden, 8/26/05.  Photo taken by Karl Gottschalk.

Crossline Skippers (Polites origenes)

Crossline Skipper on a Common Buttonbush, Jordan Lake, Chatham County, NC, 9/3/06 Crossline Skipper, Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 5/11/06

Salt Marsh Skipper (Panoquina panoquin)

Salt Marsh Skipper, Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, New Hanover County, NC, 9/14/15 Salt Marsh Skipper on aster, Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, New Hanover County, NC, 9/25/17 Will Cook and Harry LeGrand agree that this is a Salt Marsh Skipper, seen at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, New Hanover County, NC, 8/12/11.  The clincher was behavior: it feeds on marsh grass, close to the ground.  Compare Jeff Pippen's 2008 Salt Marsh Skipper photo Salt Marsh Skipper, Springer's Point Nature Preserve, Ocracoke, NC, 5/10/06 Salt Marsh Skipper, Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 5/13/07 Salt Marsh Skipper, Ocracoke, Hyde County, NC, 5/21/09

Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

Ocola Skipper, Durham, NC, 7/04/04, ventral view of right hind wing and part of forewing. Ocola Skippers seem to be relatively common in eastern North Carolina, although the butterfly books suggest otherwise.  Perhaps it's because that long forewing makes them hard to miss.  Ocola Skipper, Durham, 8/20/05. Ocola Skipper, the local swamp in Durham, 9/3/05.

Dion Skippers (Euphyes dion)

This skipper has a G4 Nature Conservancy Global Rank, meaning it is "apparently secure globally." Click on the thumbnails to see enlarged photos.

 
Dion Skipper, Duke Gardens, Durham, NC, 9/17/05, on lantana. Dion Skipper on Purple Coneflower, Sandy Creek Park, Durham, NC, 5/31/11   Dion Skipper, Durham, NC, 9/9/05 dorsal view of forewing.

Dun Skippers (Euphyes vestris)

   
Dun Skipper, on Common Sneezeweed, discovered and IDed by Randy Emmitt at the Flat River Impoundment, Durham, NC on 8/15/10 Dun Skipper, Duke Gardens, Durham, NC, 8/18/07 Dun Skipper, Duke Gardens, Durham, NC, 8/26/07    

Palatka Skipper (Euphyes pilatka)

This skipper has a G3 Nature Conservancy Global Rank, meaning it is "very rare or local throughout its range or found locally within a restricted range" or "threatened throughout its range."  It appears to fall in the limited range category, i.e., swamps in a particular coastal area.

Palatka Skipper, Alligator National Wildlife Refuge, Dare County, 5/25/04.   Thanks to Jeff Pippen for ID. Palatka Skipper, Dare County, NC, 10/6/05.  This skipper hid deep in tall marsh grass.  Thanks to Harry LeGrand for ID; Will Cook agrees. Same Palatka Skipper.

Zabulon Skipper (Poanes zabulon)

Male Zabulon Skipper on ironweed, Durham, NC, 8/14/17 Female Zabulon Skipper, Durham, NC, 8/14/17

Broad-winged Skipper (Poanes viator)

 
Broad-winged Skipper on marsh fleabane (camphorweed), Pluchea indica, Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 9/28/10.  One of two seen together.  ID thanks to Harry LeGrand.  

Umber Skipper (Poanes melana)

It has a conservation rating of G4, "apparently secure."

Umber Skipper, Mt. Diablo State Park, Clayton, Contra Costa County, CA  5/8/15 Umber Skipper, U. of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley, CA  9/13/14. ID thanks to Cliff Ivy.

Meske's Skipper (Hesperia meskei)

Female Meske's Skipper, anomalous in not appearing on a flower, Weymouth Woods-Sandhills Nature Preserve, Moore County, NC, 10/6/11.  ID confirmed by Harry LeGrand. 

Southern Skipperling (Copaeodes minima)

         
Southern Skipperling, Port Aransas (beach, Nueces County, TX, 2/4/13 Southern Skipperling, Greenville, Pitt County, NC, 11/12/10          

Delaware Skipper (Anatrytone logan)

Delaware Skipper, Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access (Orange County, NC), 8/17/05. Delaware Skipper, same skipper. Delaware Skipper caterpillar, Eno River State Park, Old Cole Mill Road access, 6/23/05, found in the same place as the adult pictured above.

Brazilian Skipper (Calpodes ethlius)

Brazilian Skipper, Carolina Beach, New Hanover County, NC, 9/30/04

Least Skippers (Ancyloxypha numitor)

         
Least Skipper on a buttercup, Durham, NC, 5/24/14          

Little Glassywing (Pompeius verna)

Little Glassywing, Durham, NC, 7/19/17 Little Glassywing, Durham, NC, 5/21/16 Little Glassywing, Museum of Life & Science (outside), Durham, NC, 8/9/08 Little Glassywing, Durham, NC, 8/10/13.  This shows the purple flow on the hind wing. Another Little Glassywing, Durham, NC, 8/26/12 Little Glassywing, Durham, NC, 7/28/18 Little Glassywing skipper, Jordan Lake, Chatham County, NC, 8/15/15 Female Little Glassywing, Durham, 8/24/05.  Little Glassywing, NC Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 8/26/05.  Taken by Karl Gottschalk. Little Glassywing, Johnston Mill Nature Preserve, Orange County, NC, 6/10/07.  Photo taken by Karl D. Gottschalk.

Eufala Skipper (Lerodea eufala)

Eufala Skipper, Eno River SP, Old Cole Mill Road access, 9/16/05.  A somewhat worn individual.  Thanks to Will Cook for ID.

Fiery Skipper (Hylefila phyleus)

Male and female Fiery Skippers, Duke Gardens, Durham, NC, 10/20/07.  Ventral view. Female Fiery Skipper, Durham, NC, 9/12/05.  Dorsal view. Male Fiery Skipper, Durham, 6/26/05.  Dorsal view.

Sachem (Atolopedes campestris)

         
Male Sachem, Duke Gardens, Durham, NC, 7/24/05.  A rare mint-condition individual. Dorsal view. Male Sachem,  Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 4/29/06.  Dorsal view. Female Sachem, Durham, NC, 8/19/05.  Here, the yellow flower turns the Sachem a yellow-brown.  Ventral view. Female Sachem, Durham, 8/19/03.  Note how the green surroundings turn this skipper's greenish-gray.  Ventral view. Female Sachem, Durham, 6/28/04, on white clover blossom.  Here you have a ventral view of the left wing and a dorsal view of the right one.          

 

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