Minnesota Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

picture of a Monarch Butterfly the state butterfly of Minnesota

Thanks for visiting the Minnesota butterflies page. A larger than average land mass and varied geography provides the state with sufficient factors to host a fairly diverse butterfly population, especially for a state that borders the northern edge of the United States.

The picture at the top of the top picture shows the Minnesota state butterfly, the Monarch Butterfly.

Like many states, Minnesota began experiencing declines in their Monarch butterfly populations due in part to changing agricultural practices and the removal of the larval host plant, milkweed, from agricultural areas.

Efforts to restore the population by promoting Monarch butterfly gardens continues. Year to year Monarch butterfly population counts continue to show progress.

Stressed out Minnesota butterflies does not start and end with Monarchs. In fact, including skippers, there are nineteen butterfly species on Minnesota’s Endangered, Rare and Threatened Species List.

Three of them, the .Dakota skipper, the Karner’s Blue and Poweshiek skipper are proposed for, or already on, the Federal Endangered Species list. Minnesota runs special programs for all of its population stressed species.

Large population centers such as the Twin Cities can also celebrate butterfly season with back yard butterfly gardens. According to the North American Butterfly Association (NABA) multiple species that are common to the area can be invited into the yard by plants the right types of trees and plants.

For example, planting a black cherry or aspen tree in the yard is good for Canadian Tiger Swallowtails and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails because their larvae feed on the leaves. Planting members of the aster family (native daisies) provides host plants for Pearl Crescents, Northern Crescents.

Nectar flowers in the garden are also a great way to invite adult butterflies on a season to season basis. Again, according to NABA, choosing the right nectar plants is a matter of learning over time. They give a thumbs down to Black-eyed Susans and Butterfly weed saying,

We have hundreds of these flowers and rarely to they attract any butterflies. Butterfly bush (Buddleia) This is not at all the draw here that books lead you to believe; only late in season do some butterflies visit these blossoms.

This brief introduction to Minnesota butterflies provides a list of the species arranged by family. Space limitations mean that only a handful of butterfly pictures are included. Please press the green butterfly button for additional butterfly pictures and information.

Butterflies: Whites and Yellows

picture of a Clouded-sulphur Butterfly, part of the Minnesota butterflies series.
Residents and tourists can enjoy a bit of diversity in the family Pieridae. The butterflies with yellow and white wing fly in residential areas and gardens and fields around the state.

The picture shows a Clouded Sulphur butterfly. Here’s a list of the rest of the white butterflies and yellow butterflies documented in the state.

Large Marble
Olympia Marble
Pine White
Mustard White
Cabbage White
Checkered White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Giant 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 an Eastern tailed blue
Minnesota, the land of one thousand, lakes hosts a great variety of blues, hairstreaks and coppers in the fields around those lakes. All the species tend to either puddle on the ground or perch on branches close to the ground.

The picture shows a side view of an Eastern Tailed-blue, the blue butterfly with a hair-like appendage at the bottom of the wings similar to the haristreaks.

The tail like appendage is rare for blue butterflies because it is the defining characteristic of the Hairstreak butterflies. Of note, Minnesota also hosts the Coral Hairstreak. It’s the only hairstreak butterfly in the state that lacks the tail like appendage.

picture of a Gray hairstreak on a perennial pea flower
Most of the Hairstreak butterflies have regional placements.

The Gray Hairstreak in the picture is the most common of all the native Hairstreak butterflies, due in part to its flexible diet. The caterpillars feed on plants in the pea family. The picture shows an adult on a perennial pea flower.

They look a bit similar to the Eastern-tailed Blues, although they are larger in size and the pattern on the underwing is slightly different. Most of the hairstreaks do no have blue bodies.

Marine Blue
Eastern Tailed-Blue
Western Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Northern Azure
Summer Azure
Silvery Blue
Reakirt’s Blue
Northern Blue
Melissa Blue
Greenish Blue
Lupine Blue
Juniper Hairstreak
Brown Elfin
Hoary Elfin
Henry’s Elfin
Eastern PineElfin
Western PineElfin
Coral Hairstreak
Acadian Hairstreak
Hickory Hairstreak
Edwards’ Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
Striped Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
American Copper
Gray Copper
Bronze Copper
Bog Copper
Purplish Copper
Dorcas Copper

Minnestoa Butterflies: Brushfoots

picture of a side view of a Hackberry Emperor butterfly
Nothing says diversity in the Minnesota brushfoot category like the number of southern species such as the Gulf Fritillary and Hackberry Emperor making their way to the northern most areas of the country. The picture shows a side view of the Hackberry Emperor.

The presence of almost a dozen Wood Nymphs and Satyrs many specifically northern species also adds to the state’s butterfly diversity.

Brush footed
American Snout
Gulf Fritillary
Variegated Fritillary
Great SpangledFritillary
Aphrodite Fritillary
Regal Fritillary
Atlantis Fritillary
Mormon Fritillary
Bog Fritillary
Silver-bordered Fritillary
Meadow Fritillary
Frigga Fritillary
Freija Fritillary
Arctic Fritillary
Red-spotted Purple
White Admiral
Astyanax’ Red-spottedPurple
Hackberry Emperor
Tawny Emperor
Silvery Checkerspot
Gorgone Checkerspot
Bordered Patch
Harris’ Checkerspot
Brush footed
Pearl Crescent
Northern Crescent
Tawny Crescent
Baltimore Checkerspot
Chalcedon 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
Northern Pearly-eye
Eyed Brown
Appalachian Brown
Common Ringlet
Little Wood-Satyr
Taiga Alpine
Red-disked Alpine
Jutta Arctic
Macoun’s Arctic
Uhler’s Arctic
Common Wood-Nymph

Swallowtail Butterflies

picture of a Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly
Tourists will often see swallowtail butterflies around their hotels and outdoor spots. They are common anywhere trees and flowers are present. The picture shows a Spicebush Swallowtail.

Pawpaw trees, the larval hosts for Zebra Swallowtails might grow in some areas of south Minnesota. So the chance of finding any Zebra Swallowtails in the state are slim.

  • Pipevine Swallowtail
  • Zebra Swallowtail
  • Black Swallowtail
  • Canadian Tiger Swallowtail
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • Spicebush Swallowtail
  • Giant Swallowtail