Arkansas Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

picture of a southern dogface butterfly, part of the Arkansas butterflies section

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: Of the other 133 species I would classify 88 of them as “statewide”. Meaning that every county with the right habitat should have these as a record. As I write this only 9 counties have even 88 species documented. And we have yet to have a butterfly that has been recorded in every county. The closest species being Pearl Crescent, Orange Sulphur, Common Buckeye, Goatweed Leafwing and Silver-spotted Skipper.

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

picture of a checkered white butterfly, part of the Arkansas butterflies section
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.

Falcate Orangetip
Olympia Marble
Florida White
Cabbage White
Checkered White
Great Southern White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Southern Dogface
Cloudless Sulphur
Large Orange Sulphur
Orange-barred Sulphur
Lyside Sulphur
Barred Yellow
Mexican Yellow
Tailed Orange
Little Yellow
Sleepy Orange
Dainty Sulphur

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of a Striped Hairstreak, part of the Arkansas butterflies section
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.

picture of a Rekirk's Blue
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.

Western Pygmy-Blue
Eastern Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Summer Azure
Dusky Azure
Appalachian Azure
Silvery Blue
Ceraunus Blue
Reakirt’s Blue
Great Purple Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak
C’Olive’ Juniper Hairstreak
Frosted Elfin
Henry’s Elfin
Eastern Pine Elfin
Oak Hairstreak
Coral Hairstreak
Hickory Hairstreak
Edwards’ Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
King’s Hairstreak
Striped Hairstreak
Red-banded Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
Clytie Ministreak
White-M Hairstreak
American Copper
Bronze Copper

Brush Footed Butterflies

picture of a Northern Pearly Eye butterfly, part of the Arkansas butterflies collection
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.

Brush footed
American Snout
Gulf Fritillary
Julia Heliconian
Zebra Heliconian
Variegated Fritillary
Diana Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Regal Fritillary
Red-spotted Purple or White Admiral
Red-spotted Purple
Hackberry Emperor
Tawny Emperor
Silvery Checkerspot
Gorgone Checkerspot
Bordered Patch
Brush footed
Phaon Crescent
Phyciodes tharos Pearl Crescent
Baltimore Checkerspot
Common Buckeye
Question Mark
Eastern Comma
Gray Comma
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Mourning Cloak
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
American Lady
Goatweed Leafwing
Southern Pearly-eye
Northern Pearly-eye
Creole Pearly-eye
Gemmed Satyr
Georgia Satyr
Little Wood-Satyr
Carolina Satyr
Hermes Satyr
Common Wood-Nymph

Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of a Giant Swallowtail
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

picture of a Swamp Metalmark
Two Matalmark species can be found in Arkansas. The picture shows the Swamp Metalmark.
  • Northern Metalmark
  • Swamp Metalmark