Alaska Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

Thanks for visiting Alaska Butterflies. It might be the case that many people fail to realize the excitement of Alaska butterflies. How can a state that deep freezes for a good portion of the year provide butterfly excitement for anyone?

That’s a good question with an equally good answer. Many southern states, with the high butterfly species numbers do surpass the eighty or so species of Alaska butterflies.

Nonetheless, a quick glance at the list of Alaska butterflies presented here shows that any butterfly enthusiast visiting Alaska has a great opportunity to add scores of new butterflies to their life lists in a very short time.

While a good deal of Alaska biodiversity takes place in the warmer southeast corner of the state, Alaska butterflies are hardy creatures. Species can be found as far north as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They also can be found at elevation up to nine thousand feet. The video at the top of the page, for example, shows the silvery blue butterfly with a range that extends from north to south in the state.

Butterfly identification usually begins with wing color and patterns. The silvery blue butterfly, for example, has blue wings, and from a side view, dark circular spots on the wings outlined in white. Most, not all, butterflies can be initially identified by having pictures of top and/or side views of the wings.

This Alaska butterfly section splits into family categories into families, because they often conveniently aligned with butterfly wing colors and patterns. Please press on the green butterfly button for additional butterfly pictures, video and identification tips.

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of a Northern blue butterfly
A small, but diverse group of blues, hairstreaks and coppers define Alaska butterflies.

Cranberry and Arctic Blue butterflies are probably the Alaska specialties. The remainder of the species are common in much of the Northern and Western United States. The picture shows a Northern Blue.

picture of a Western Pine Elfin butterfly
Alaska might be the only state lacking in hairstreak butterfly species. Usually they dominate the list of Gossamer Wing butterflies for every state.

The Elfin butterflies are known for brown wings. The picture shows a Western Pine Elfin.

Western Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Silvery Blue
Reakirt’s Blue
Northern Blue
Greenish Blue
Cranberry Blue
Arctic Blue
Brown Elfin
Hoary Elfin
American Copper
Dorcas Copper
Mariposa Copper

Alaska Butterflies: Whites and Yellows

picture of a Margined White butterfly, part of the Alaska butterflies series
Pieridae is the formal name of the family that consists of the butterflies with white wings and yellow wings. The picture shows a Margined white butterfly. It’s one of over a dozen species living in Alaska.

picture of a large marble butterfly, part of the Alaska butterflies series
A side view of any marble butterfly serves as the ideal field identification clue. The greenish-yellowish patterns against a white wing background stand out. Despite the name, their folded wings might be a tad bit bigger than a thumbnail.

Green marbles and Northern marbles are much less common, so the odds are that most Alaska marble butterfly sightings will be of the Large marble.

picture of a Clouded Sulphur, part of the Alaska butterflies series
Visitors to Alaska ought to take as many pictures of yellow butterflies that they can. Seven of the eight species are bound to be a new find for them because they are not traditionally the species found in the lower forty eight states.

Celebrate with the Canadians in Alaska by learning about their yellow butterfly species.

Green Marble
Large Marble
Northern Marble
Arctic White
Margined White
Cabbage White
Western White
Clouded Sulphur
Christina Sulphur
Hecla Sulphur
Canadian Sulphur
Booth’s Sulphur
Labrador Sulphur
Giant Sulphur
Palaeno Sulphur

Brush-footed Butterflies

picture of a fritillary butterfly, Alaska butterflies
Brush Footed butterflies are the most common butterflies in the Northern hemisphere, and Alaska butterflies for the average butterfly enthusiast means Brush-footed butterflies.

The most enthusiastic also know that Alaska also recently announced some great butterfly news with the discovery of a new species, the Tanana Arctic (Oeneis tanana).

The first picture shows a fritillary butterfly, one of over a dozen Alaska fritillary species. Identification of the greater fritillaries continues to be a subject of discussion because of the physical similarities between species, as well as physical differences in a single species based on their geographic location.

The lesser fritillaries such as the Bog, Silver-bordered and Frigga can be more easily identified with close up top view and side view pictures.

picture of a Field Crescent
Sometimes size helps with identification the Field crescent is a comparatively smaller butterfly. Since it’s the only crescent in the state, a top picture usually serves as a sufficient field identification guide.

picture of a Milbert's Tortoiseshell
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell are another of the very flexible brush-footed species. They an be found as far north as Alaska and as far south as Arizona. The orange band across the top of the wing is a good field ID clue.

picture of a White-veined Arctic Butterfly
A few of the Alpine and Arctic species can be found along the Rocky Mountain range. They tend to be medium sized butterflies with dull colors.

As mentioned earlier, Alaska specializes in these species. The picture shows White-veined Arctic

Zerene Fritillary
Atlantis Fritillary
Northwestern Fritillary
Mormon Fritillary
Mountain Fritillary
Bog Fritillary
Silver-bordered Fritillary
Frigga Fritillary
Dingy Fritillary
Polaris Fritillary
Freija Fritillary
Cryptic Fritillary
Astarte Fritillary
Arctic Fritillary
Red-spotted Purple or White Admiral
White Admiral
Field Crescent
Chalcedon Checkerspot
Satyr Comma
Green Comma
Hoary Comma
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Compton Tortoiseshell
Mourning Cloak
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
Common Ringlet
Ross’ Alpine
Disa Alpine
Taiga Alpine
Mt. McKinley Alpine
Banded Alpine
Common Alpine
Red-disked Alpine
Yellow-dotted Alpine
Four-dotted Alpine
Reddish Alpine
Philip’s Arctic
Polixenes Arctic
Jutta Arctic
Melissa Arctic
Sentinel Arctic
White-veined Arctic
Chryxus Arctic
Uhler’s Arctic

Alaska Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of a Canadian Swallowtail butterfly
Parnassian are the more cold hardy of the swallowtail family species. Alaska is home to two Parnassian and two Swallowtail species.
  • Eversmann’s Parnassian
  • Phoebus Parnassian
  • Old World Swallowtail
  • Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

Butterflies: Skippers

picture of a Arctic Skipper, one of Alaska butterflies in the skipper family
Alaska Skipper butterflies are pretty similar to other state’s populations with the big exception being there are many less species in Alaska than other states. Generally they can initially be identified by their resting wing pattern, either spread wing or closed wing.

The picture shows an Arctic Skipper. They are fairly common along the northern border of the United States. They are also know as spring butterflies that bask with their wings open. They represent the general exception to the spread wing skipper rule and are placed in the Intermediate Skippers category.

picture of a Grizzled skipper, one of Alaska butterflies in the skipper family
Grizzled skippers represent the spread-winged skipper subfamily as do both of the duskywings.

picture of a Common branded skipper
Common branded skippers represent the grass skipper category.

  • Afranius Duskywing
  • Persius Duskywing
  • Grizzled Skipper
  • Arctic Skipper
  • Common Branded Skipper