Maine Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

picture of a Satyr comma, par of the Maine butterflies series

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

picture of a male Cabbage White butterfly
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.
picture of a Clouded Sulphur butterfly
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.

Mustard White
Cabbage White
Checkered White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Pink-edged Sulphur
Cloudless Sulphur
Large Orange
Little Sulphur

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of a Bog Copper Butterfly
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.

picture of a Silvery Blue Butterfly
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.

picture of a Silvery Blue Butterfly
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 Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Northern Azure
Summer Azure
Silvery Blue
Northern Blue
Greenish Blue
Arctic Blue
Hessel’s Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak
Brown Elfin
Hoary Elfin
Frosted Elfin
Henry’s Elfin
Eastern Pine Elfin
Western Pine Elfin
Bog Elfin
Oak Hairstreak
Coral Hairstreak
Acadian Hairstreak
Edwards’ Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
Striped Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
Early Hairstreak
American Copper
Bronze Copper
Bog Copper
Dorcas Copper

Brush Footed Butterflies

picture of an Eastern Comma butterfly
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: When developing a landscape for butterflies, first consider butterfly species present in your area and their preferred habitats. Then consider plants suited to your climate and your backyard habitat. Assess what your landscape already provides, and add to that. Each butterfly species has a preference or need for a particular habitat type, such as meadow, woods, woodland edges or marshes.

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.

Brush footed
American Snout
Variegated Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Aphrodite Fritillary
Regal Fritillary
Atlantis Fritillary
Bog Fritillary
Silver-bordered Fritillary
Meadow Fritillary
Frigga Fritillary
Arctic Fritillary
White Admiral
arthemis White Admiral
Astyanax’ Red-spotted Purple
Silvery Checkerspot
Harris’ Checkerspot
Brush footed
Pearl Crescent
Northern Crescent
Tawny Crescent
Baltimore Checkerspot
Common Buckeye
Question Mark
Eastern Comma
Satyr Comma
Green Comma
Hoary Comma
Gray Comma
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Compton Tortoiseshell
Mourning Cloak
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
American Lady
Northern Pearly-eye
Eyed Brown
Appalachian Brown
Common Ringlet
Little Wood-Satyr
Polixenes Arctic
Jutta Arctic
Common Wood-Nymph

Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of a Black Swallowtail butterfly
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

picture of an Arctic Skipper butterfly
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.