Arizona Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

Like it’s neighbors California and New Mexico, Arizona is filled with butterflies. Butterfly diversity increased because the northern mountains and the southern deserts support two sets of butterflies species.

picture of a Great-basin Wood-nymph
The Grand Canyon, for example, hosts around 290 butterfly species. Many with ranges that extend along the Rocky Mountain region. The picture shows a Great Basin Wood-nymph, one such species.

Chiricahua White butterfly, part of the Arizona butterflies section
The Desert Southwest, for example, hosts around 270 butterfly species. Many with ranges that extend along the southern border. The picture shows a Chiricahua white, one such species.

Arizona also hosts addition butterfly species with more extended ranges. For example, the Painted Lady in the video ranks at the top of the extended ranges list, living in many areas of the northern hemisphere.

Butterfly diversity also translates into enthusiasm for butterfly identification. This introduction to Arizona Butterflies includes pictures and identification tips. For additional videos, pictures and tips not presented here, please press the green Butterflies button.

Brush-footed Butterflies

picture of a
Almost one hundred brush-footed butterflies call Arizona home. Because they tend to be the larger and colorful species found in residential areas around the state, learning how to identify them and their favored plants and flowers helps with maintaining healthy butterfly habitat.

Physical characteristics such as wing color, patterns and shape are normally sufficient for butterfly identification. That’s most easily done by having both a top view and side view picture of the butterfly in question. The picture at the top of this section shows an Empress Leilia, one of the southern ranging species. It’s one of five emperor butterfly species found in Arizona, so it’s general wing color, pattern and shape can look similar to the other emperor butterfly species.

The top view of the Empress leilia shows two solid bars close to the middle of each of the top wings (see arrow in picture). That’s a good field ID clue because the Hackberry emperor has one solid wing bar close to the middle of each of the top wings.

picture of a
This next picture shows a side view of an Empress Leilia. The three eyespots on the top of the wing serve as the best field identification clue.

picture of an Arizona Sister butterfly
The picture shows an Arizona Sister. It’s related to the California Sister on the West Coast and the Band-celled Sister in Texas.

A quick look at the Brush-footed butterfly list that follows highlights the fact that Arizona hosts multiple butterflies in a genus. Following the butterfly identification tips will make identifying them much easier.

Brush footed
American Snout
Mexican Silverspot
Gulf Fritillary
Isabella’s Heliconian
Zebra Heliconian
Variegated Fritillary
Mexican Fritillary
Aphrodite Fritillary
Nokomis Fritillary
Coronis Fritillary
Northwestern Fritillary
Mormon Fritillary
Tailed Cecropian
Blomfild’s Beauty
Red-spotted Purple or White Admiral
Arizona Red-spotted Purple
Weidemeyer’s Admiral
Bredow’s Sister
Arizona Sister
Many-banded Daggerwing
Ruddy Daggerwing
Hackberry Emperor
Empress Leilia
Tawny Emperor
Dusky Emperor
Silver Emperor
Common Mestra
Dingy Purplewing
Blackened Bluewing
Glaucous Cracker
Black-patched Cracker
Dotted Checkerspot
Arachne Checkerspot
Eumeda (Medial) Patch
Rosita Patch
Theona Checkerspot
Black Checkerspot
Fulvia Checkerspot
Leanira Checkerspot
Silvery Checkerspot
California Patch
Bordered Patch
Sagebrush Checkerspot
Brush footed
Tiny Checkerspot
Elada Checkerspot
Vesta or Graphic Crescent
Painted Crescent
Pale Crescent
Mylitta Crescent
Phaon Crescent
Mexican Crescent
Pearl Crescent
Northern Crescent
Tawny Crescent
Field Crescent
Tulcis Crescent
Texan Crescent
Chalcedon Checkerspot
Anicia Checkerspot
Common Buckeye
Tropical Buckeye
White Peacock
Question Mark
Satyr Comma
Green Comma
Hoary Comma
Gray Comma
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Mourning Cloak
California Tortoiseshell
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
West Coast Lady
American Lady
Tropical Leafwing
Goatweed Leafwing
Angled Leafwing
Common Ringlet
Nabokov’s Satyr
Canyonland Satyr
Pine Satyr
Red Satyr
Ridings’ Satyr
Alberta Arctic
Common Wood-Nymph
Mead’s Wood-Nymph
Great Basin Wood-Nymph
Small Wood-Nymph
Red-bordered Satyr
White Morpho

Arizona Butterflies: Whites and Yellows

Checkered white butterfly, part of the Arizona butterflies section
The title of this section suggests that wing color defines the members of the Pieridae family, initially identified by wing color. Common names such as Western White and Great Southern White basically explain a good deal about their different ranges. Cabbage white butterflies range across the United States in any area where plants in the cabbage family grow.

The picture shows a Checkered white. It’s range extends across most of the United States.

picture of a Desert Orangetip in Arizona
Arizona also hosts almost every yellow butterfly species with similar range patterns. With one or two exceptions, a top and bottom picture works great for identification. The picture shows a Tailed Orange butterfly. Photographing and documenting the three dozen white and yellow butterflies would be enough to keep any tourist happy for weeks.

Desert Orangetip
Southwestern Orangetip
Sonoran Marble
Desert Marble
California Marble
Florida White
Pine White
Chiricahua White
Margined White
Cabbage White
Becker’s White
Checkered White
Western White
Spring White
Great Southern White
Howarth’s White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Queen Alexandra’s Sulphur
Southern Dogface
Yellow Angled-Sulphur
White Angled-Sulphur
Cloudless Sulphur
Large Orange Sulphur
Orange-barred Sulphur
Tailed Sulphur
Lyside Sulphur
Barred Yellow
Boisduval’s Yellow
Mexican Yellow
Tailed Orange
Little Yellow
Mimosa Yellow
Dina Yellow
Sleepy Orange
Dainty Sulphur

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of a Leda Ministreak, part of the Arizona butterflies section
Arizona butterflies also means gossamer-wing butterflies. Family Lycaenidae divides into three groups, the blues, hairstreaks and coppers. The list shows over five dozen different species.

The picture at the top of the section shows a Leda Ministreak. It’s a Southwest specialty.

picture of an 'arizona Hairstreak butterfly, part of the Arizona butterflies section
This next picture shows an Arizona hairstreak, a state namesake with a beautiful set of green wings.

picture of a Ceraunus blue butterfly
Blue butterfly identification can be a difficult challenge, even for experts, due to the high number of Dotted-blue species in the state.

The other blue butterfly species are fairly easy to identify with some side view pictures. The picture shows a Ceraunus blue butterfly. Note the brown and white pattern on the wings and the dark spot on the edge of the bottom wing and the hint of another dark spot subsequently faded next to it.

picture of a Marine blue butterfly
Compare that with the next picture of a Marine blue butterfly. Note the brown and white pattern on the wings and two dark spots on the edge of the bottom wing.

Attention to wing patterns with a side view work great for identification purposes.

Marine Blue
Cyna Blue
Western Pygmy-Blue
Eastern Tailed-Blue
Western Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Echo Azure
Arrowhead Blue
Silvery Blue
Small Dotted-Blue
Western Square-dotted Blue
Bernardino Dotted-Blue
Ellis’ Dotted-Blue
Bauer’s Dotted-Blue
Pacific Dotted-Blue
Mojave Dotted-Blue
Rita Dotted-Blue
Pallid Dotted-Blue
Spalding’s Dotted-Blue
Ceraunus Blue
Reakirt’s Blue
Melissa Blue (includes Karner Blue)
Greenish Blue
Boisduval’s Blue
Acmon Blue
Lupine Blue
Arctic Blue
Colorado Hairstreak
Golden Hairstreak
Great Purple Hairstreak
Western Green Hairstreak
Sheridan’s Green Hairstreak
Desert Green Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak
Thicket Hairstreak
Xami Hairstreak
Brown Elfin
Desert Elfin
Western Pine Elfin
Long-winged Greenstreak
Marius Hairstreak
Creamy Stripestreak
Ilavia Hairstreak
Coral Hairstreak
Sylvan Hairstreak
Hedgerow Hairstreak
Behr’s Hairstreak
Soapberry Hairstreak
Black Hairstreak
Silver-banded Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
Red-lined Scrub-Hairstreak
Yojoa Scrub-Hairstreak
Tailless Scrub-Hairstreak
Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak
Lantana Scrub-Hairstreak
Leda Ministreak
Clytie Ministreak
Gray Ministreak
Sonoran Hairstreak
Arizona Hairstreak
Tailed Copper
Ruddy Copper
Ferris’ Copper
Blue Copper

Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of a two-tailed Swallowtail, the official state butterfly of Arizona. butterfly
Arizona’s warmer climate makes for a diverse Swallowtail butterfly population. Over a dozen different species are documented. The picture shows a Two-tailed Swallowtail, the official state butterfly. They do lack the Parnassian species, because they are the more cold hardy of the swallowtail family species. The Kaibab Indra Swallowtail, a subspecies of the Indra, is state listed as endangered.
  • White-dotted Cattleheart
  • Pipevine Swallowtail
  • Polydamas Swallowtail
  • Old World Swallowtail
  • Black Swallowtail
  • Anise Swallowtail
  • Indra Swallowtail
  • Western Tiger Swallowtail
  • Two-tailed Swallowtail
  • Three-tailed Swallowtail
  • Giant Swallowtail
  • Broad-banded Swallowtail
  • Ruby-spotted Swallowtail

Arizona Butterflies: Metalmarks

picture of an Arizona Metalmark
Many first time visitors to Arizona might be a bit confused about the identity of some rather ordinary looking butterflies, the Metalmarks. Metalmark butterflies are mostly a sub-tropical and tropical family. Metalmark diversity is at its highest in the Southwest. Arizona boasts over a dozen different species, including the Arizona Metalmark in the picture. Here’s the list.
  • Fatal Metalmark
  • Wright’s Metalmark
  • Arizona Metalmark
  • Bumblebee Metalmark
  • Maria’s Metalmark
  • Zela Metalmark
  • Ares Metalmark
  • Mormon Metalmark
  • Sonoran Metalmark
  • Palmer’s Metalmark
  • Hepburn’s Metalmark
  • Crescent Metalmark
  • Nais Metalmark