Arkansas butterflies are celebrated by many people across the state througout the butterfly season. None is bigger than the annual Butterfly Festival at Mount Magazine State Park. It happens every June and is open free to the public.
Butterfly Days at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville during the fall peak butterfly season.
Species numbers for Arkansas butterflies change over time. Currently about one hundred and sixty are documented. The number includes skipper butterflies and stray arrivals.
Approximately one hundred butterfly species, excluding the skippers are presented here. Visitors to Arkansas should have a fairly easy time seeing many but not all the species where ever they plan to visit. According to Arkansas buterflies expert Dr. Herschel Raney:
Butterfly identification often starts with wing color. Therefore, this part of the Arkansas butterfly guide divides nicely into the family groups that often use color as their organizing scheme. Space limited the number of butterfly pictures that can be shows. Please press the green butterflies button for additional pictures and information.
Butterflies: Whites and Yellows
Arkansas butterflies define much of the beauty of the state. The climate means that they fly for at least nine of the twelve months of the year. That’s especially true for the whites and yellows.
Like other states in the Southeast United States, Arkansas counts a bountiful bakers dozen yellow butterflies. The picture at the top of the page shows a Southern Dogface. With a few southern county exceptions is has a state wide range.
It’s also typical for Southern states to host more of the yellow butterfly species than the white butterfly species. The Checkered White butterfly in the picture under this group heading also has a wide range.
Great Southern White
Large Orange Sulphur
Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers
Arkansas butterflies in the gossamer-wing category unevenly divide into three groups, the blues, hairstreaks and coppers. Like many states in the eastern part of the country, only a couple of Copper butterflies are found. Blues and hairstreaks account for most of the diversity, with hairstreak butterflies, the species with the air looking appendages at the bottom of the wings, leading the list with most species.
Red-banded Hairstreaks might be the most wide spread of the species. The top picture shows a Striped Hairstreak. It’s mostly a northern and Ozark butterfly.
A few of the blue butterflies such as the Tailed-blue, Spring and Summer Azures and Rekirk’s Blue have close to a state wide range. The picture shows a Rekirk’s Blue. Identifying any of the Arkansas blue butterflies is fairly easy because they are usually very easy to photograph. With a good picture, the pattern on the side of the wing and top of the wing is normally sufficient for an accurate identification.
Harvesters are the most wide ranging of the three species under the copper butterfly section. The other two species are mostly found in the north of the state.
Great Purple Hairstreak
C’Olive’ Juniper Hairstreak
Eastern Pine Elfin
Brush Footed Butterflies
In 2007 Arkansas adopted the Diana Fritillary, a large and colorful Brush Footed butterfly as its official butterfly. It’s one of over three dozen members of the Brush Footed butterfly family that fly the fields and forests of the state.
Like many of the Southern states, Arkansas also has a nice collection of Satyrs and Wood Nymphs. The picture shows a Northern Pearly-eye, one of the Wood Nymphs. The common name wood nymph suggests they inhabit wooded areas. It’s more accurate to say they inhabit grassland and fields in and around wooded areas.
Most tourists always have the opportunity to see over a dozen of the large and showy Brush Footed species because many inhabit gardens around the hotels as well as residential areas around the state.
Great Spangled Fritillary
Red-spotted Purple or White Admiral
Phyciodes tharos Pearl Crescent
A warmer climate also means Arkansas shares many of the Swallowtail butterfly species with other Southern states. The picture shows a Giant Swallowtail.
Good news, all the swallowtail species with the exception of the Ozark Swallowtail have wide distributions. Many of the species use native trees as host plants for their caterpillars. That means tourists will also see many swallowtail species in the gardens surrounding their hotels.
- Pipevine Swallowtail
- Polydamas Swallowtail
- Zebra Swallowtail
- Ozark Swallowtail
- Black Swallowtail
- Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
- Spicebush Swallowtail
- Palamedes Swallowtail
- Giant Swallowtail
Arkansas Butterflies: Metalmarks
Two Matalmark species can be found in Arkansas. The picture shows the Swamp Metalmark.
- Northern Metalmark
- Swamp Metalmark