Michigan Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

picture of a Mitchell's Satyr credit Don Henise Flickr

Thanks for visiting the Michigan butterflies page.

Butterfly talk around Michigan increasingly uses the language of endangered. To date three species, the Karner Blue, the Poweshiek skipperling and the Mitchell’s satyr have been listed as endangered. Population decreases in Monarch butterflies also received considerable media attention.

The top picture shows a Mitchell’s satyr. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service:

The Mitchell’s satyr butterfly is one of the most geographically restricted eastern butterflies. Historically, the Mitchell’s satyr was found in New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and possibly Maryland. Today, the butterfly can be found in only 13 locations in Michigan and 2 locations in Indiana.

A quick scroll down the page shows that the Michigan butterflies section is arranged according to family with some pictures covering representative species.

Anyone looking for butterfly identification help can press the green butterfly button for more information.

Butterflies: Whites and Yellows

picture of a Dainty Sulphur butterfly
The yellow and white butterflies of Michigan do not have as restricted a problem as the Satyr.

Some of them have limited ranges because of either climate or vegetative growth patterns. Others such as the Cabbage White butterfly are wide spread. Their caterpillars feed on common back yard vegetables in the cabbage family. People all across Michigan see them in the neighborhoods as soon as the first garden blooms begin sprouting.

Dainty sulphurs often rank as the smallest of the yellow winged butterflies in states. They can be plentiful in season. Look for them in weedy areas close to the ground.

Here’s a list of the rest of the white butterflies and yellow butterflies documented in the state.

Large Marble
Olympia Marble
Mustard White
West Virginia White
Cabbage White
Checkered White
Western White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Pink-edged Sulphur
Southern Dogface
Cloudless Sulphur
Orange-barred Sulphur
Mexican Yellow
Little Yellow
Sleepy Orange
Dainty Sulphur

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of a Melissa Blue butterfly
Michigan’s presence in the northern tier of the United States means that it has a more balanced population of blues, hairstreaks and coppers.

The presence of the endangered Karner Blue butterfly, they are called Melissa Blues in other areas, is probably the Gossamer Wing story that gets told on a regular basis.

Eastern Tailed-Blue
Western Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Northern Azure
Summer Azure
Cherry Gall Azure
Silvery Blue
Reakirt’s Blue
Northern Blue
Melissa Blue
Greenish Blue
Brown Elfin
Hoary Elfin
Frosted Elfin
Henry’s Elfin
Eastern Pine Elfin
Western Pine Elfin
Oak Hairstreak
‘Northern’ Southern Hairstreak
Coral Hairstreak
Acadian Hairstreak
Hickory Hairstreak
Edwards’ Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
King’s Hairstreak
Striped Hairstreak
Red-banded Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
White-M Hairstreak
Early Hairstreak
Purplish Copper
Dorcas Copper

Brush Footed Butterflies

picture of an American Lady butterfly
A quick glance at the list of Michigan butterflies in the Brush Foot family shows it is dominated by multiple species in single genera such as fritillaries, crescents and commas.

They, along with checkerspots and tortoiseshell commonly visit gardens around residential areas, including the cities. Tourists looking to add to their fritillary collection can easily snap few pics. The picture shows one of the three local Vanessa species, the American Lady. Look for the white dot on the top of the wings to distinguish it from the others.

Brush footed
American Snout
Gulf Fritillary
Erato Heliconian
Variegated Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Aphrodite Fritillary
Regal Fritillary
Atlantis Fritillary
Bog Fritillary
Silver-bordered Fritillary
Meadow Fritillary
Frigga Fritillary
Freija Fritillary
Red-spotted Purple
White Admiral
‘Astyanax’ Red-spotted Purple
Hackberry Emperor
Tawny Emperor
Silvery Checkerspot
Gorgone Checkerspot
Harris’ Checkerspot
Pearl Crescent
Northern Crescent
Tawny Crescent
Brush footed
Baltimore Checkerspot
Common Buckeye
Question Mark
Eastern Comma
Satyr Comma
Green Comma
Hoary Comma
Gray Comma
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Compton Tortoiseshell
Mourning Cloak
California Tortoiseshell
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
American Lady
Goatweed Leafwing
Northern Pearly-eye
Eyed Brown
Appalachian Brown
Common Ringlet
Mitchell’s Satyr
Red-disked Alpine
Jutta Arctic
Chryxus Arctic
Macoun’s Arctic
Common Wood-Nymph

Michigan Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail
Tourists and residents alike can not help but see the large swallowtail butterflies that hover around flowers from spring through summer. Canadian Tiger Swallowtails and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails can be difficult to distinguish.
  • Pipevine Swallowtail
  • Zebra Swallowtail
  • Old World Swallowtail
  • Black Swallowtail
  • Canadian Tiger Swallowtail
  • Tiger Swallowtail
  • Spicebush Swallowtail
  • Giant Swallowtail

    Butterflies: Metalmarks

    picture of a Swamp Metalmark butterfly
    Swamp Metalmarks are the sole representative of the metalmark family in Michigan.