Thanks for visiting the Maine butterflies page.
With approximately one hundred and twenty butterfly species, Maine ranks on the lower end of the butterfly diversity spectrum for US states.
While the number might be small in size, the people of Maine take their butterflies seriously. The publishers of the Maine butterfly atlas recently said,
several of Maine’s butterfly species are of regional, national, and global conservation concern. Of special note is the relatively high proportion (~20%) of Maine butterflies that are currently considered Historic or Extirpated (9 spp.), or state-listed as Endangered, Threatened, or Special Concern (15 spp.), a result consistent with global trends elsewhere for the group
Visitors to Maine have many options for seeing the local butterflies. Southern areas of the state show the greatest butterfly diversity with survey counts topping over fifty species in a county. Close to two dozen state parks are conveniently located around the area making a butterfly day trip very convenient.
Coastal visitors also have two great options. The Charlotte Rhoades Park & Butterfly Garden, north of Portland has a staff that maintains the garden year to year with native plants to attract local butterfly species. The Coastal Maine Botanical Garden near Bar Harbor also has a butterfly garden.
This article provides a current list of Maine butterflies with pictures covering a sample of representative species. Press the green butterflies button if the butterfly you are interested in is not listed.
Butterflies: Whites and Yellows
Cabbage White butterflies are the most common of the white butterflies. They fly around residential gardens from spring through summer. Females, like the one in the picture, have two black spots on an otherwise white wing. Males have one black spot on the wing.
Here’s a list of the rest of the white butterflies and yellow butterflies documented in the state.
It’s more likely that one of the yellow butterflies floating around the flowers and fields will be a Colias species such as the Clouded Sulphur. There are not many sighting of the other species.
Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers
Unlike many states on the East Coast, Maine does host a fair number of copper butterflies. The picture shows a Bog Copper. They are distributed in many areas of the state, especially in the south and along the coast.
Eastern Tailed-blues, Azures and Silvery Blues are te most widespread of the blue butterflies. The picture shows a Silvery Blue.
Butterfly enthusiasts in the Penobscot Bay area might want to make the effort to see the very rare Crowberry Blue.
Elfins, the small brown butterflies often associated with woodland areas abound in Maine, although their populations are scattered. The Banded Hairstreak in the picture is probably the most wide spread of the hairstreak species.
Eastern Pine Elfin
Western Pine Elfin
Brush Footed Butterflies
Maine’s location in the northern part of the United States, along with a mountain terrain means that fritillaries and commas are going to be the dominant species. They both have orange shaded wings. The picture shows an Eastern Comma.
Species from both genera can occasionally be found in gardens and residential areas. In more populated areas, the remainder of the Maine brush footed butterflies are commonly seen in gardens and residential areas. They are fairly easy to photography as they nectar on flowers.
Most of the butterfly gardens in Maine plan primarily for the brushfoots. The Maine Cooperative Extension service suggests:
Gardeners need to plant nectar plants for their butterfly guests and decide if they want to host the entire butterfly cycle by planting food plants for the caterpillars.
Restoring the Maine Monarch butterfly population has been a big theme lately. It’s well known that the Monarch butterfly caterpillars feed on milkweed. Local garden clubs and nurseries can provide more detailed information on the plants most suitable for local conditions.
Great Spangled Fritillary
arthemis White Admiral
Astyanax’ Red-spotted Purple
Four of the six swallowtail butterflies that live in Maine have dark color wings. The picture shows a Black Swallowtail. The small light spots on the otherwise dark abdomen serve as a good field identification clue.
- Pipevine Swallowtail
- Black Swallowtail
- Canadian Tiger Swallowtail
- Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
- Spicebush Swallowtail
- Giant Swallowtail
Maine Butterflies: Other
Metalmarks are not a common East Coast butterfly family, and there are no recorded species in Maine. Otherwise, Maine does host approximately three dozen skipper butterflies. The picture shows an Arctic Skipper.