Mississippi Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

Thanks for visiting Mississippi butterflies, where residents enjoy large numbers of butterflies flying around the lowlands and in residential areas for most parts of the year.

The Master Gardeners at the Lee County Extension Office invite residents to check out their butterfly garden. They remind visitors

A Butterfly Garden needs both nectar plants for the adult butterfly to feed on and host plants for caterpillars. Butterflies will only lay their eggs on the host plant that each variety’s caterpillars will eat.

A variety of grasses, plants, shrubs and yes, even tress is all one needs to host butterflies throughout the year. For example, the Pawpaw, an easy to grow fruit tree is also the host plant for the Zebra Swallowtail. Plant one in the yard and you get both fruit and butterflies. It’s a great deal.

This introduction to Mississippi butterflies provides general information tips. Additional pictures, videos and ID tips for additional species can be found by pressing the green butterflies button.

Mississippi Butterflies: Whites and Yellows

picture of a Sleepy Orange butterfly, part of the Mississippi butterflies collection
When it comes to Mississippi butterfly identification, wing color and patterns usually rank as the top two identification guides. Knowing that the butterfly families can often be identified by wing color also makes for easy identification.

The video at the top of the page shows an Orange-barred sulphur on Turk’s Cap. It’s one of approximately one dozen yellow butterflies in the state.

The Sleepy Orange, pictured, shows a yellow to brown color wing from the side view. If the top wing was raised a bit, it’s bright yellow color would be a nice contrast.

picture of a Southern 
Dogface Butterfly part of the Mississippi butterflies collection
Finally the Southern Dogface has a bright yellow wing color. The side view in the picture also highlights the wing shape and and slight circles in the middle of the lower wing. Their larvae consume leaves from a variety of plants in the pea family, including clover. It’s no wonder they are found in residential areas around the state who have clover growing in the yard.

picture of a Great Southern White Butterfly part of the Mississippi butterflies collection
Pieridae is the formal name of the family that consists of the butterflies with white wings and yellow wings. Like most of the states in the South, Mississippi has a move diverse yellow butterflies population.

The Great Southern White, pictured, is probably the most common of the white species, apart from the ever present Cabbage White. The following list documents the remainder of Mississippi’s species.

Falcate Orangetip
Cabbage White
Checkered White
Great Southern White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Southern Dogface
Yellow Angled-Sulphur
Cloudless Sulphur
Large Orange Sulphur
Barred Yellow
Mexican Yellow
Little Yellow
Sleepy Orange
Dainty Sulphur

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of a side view of a Ceraunus Blue butterfly, Mississippi butterflies
Identifying the butterflies commonly called blues, hairstreaks and coppers can be a bit confusing because the names do not necessarily match the wing color.

For example, a few of Mississippi blue butterflies actually show brown patterned wings at rest. The first picture shows the Ceraunus blue. Note the one colorful spot on the edge of the bottom wing. Males have a distinct blue color on the top of their wings.

picture of the side view of a Marine Blue butterfly
A similar wing color pattern also holds for the Marine blue, that shows two colorful spots on the edge of the bottom wing.

Those clues, along with differences in wing patterns rank as better ID clues than relying on wing color alone.

picture of a Dusky Blue Groundstreak butterfly
Many of the Hairstreak butterflies in Mississippi are common in the entire east. The picture shows a Dusky-blue Groundstreak, an exception to that general rule.

It’s a subtropical species found mostly in Texas with a little spillover to Louisiana and Mississippi. Notice the two hairs on the wings.

The caterpillars consumed dead leaves and fruit on the ground, so it’s kinda easy to see them in residential areas with wooded places nearby.

They will often be joined by the gray hairstreak, the most common hairstreak in the United States. Their caterpillars also have a flexible diet, consuming most leaves of plants in the pea family.

Marine Blue
Eastern Pygmy-Blue
Eastern Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Summer Azure
Ceraunus Blue
Reakirt’s Blue
Great Purple Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak
Brown Elfin
Henry’s Elfin
Eastern Pine Elfin
Oak Hairstreak
Coral Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
King’s Hairstreak
Striped Hairstreak
Red-banded Hairstreak
Dusky-blue Groundstreak
Gray Hairstreak
White-M Hairstreak
Bronze Copper

Brush Foot Butterflies

picture of a pair of Queen butterflies, Mississippi butterflies
Orange wings define many of the brush foot butterflies. They tend to be the largest species in most areas and their showy colors catch the eye. The picture shows a pair of very common Queen butterflies. The top view and side view of the butterflies make for pretty good identification tools.

picture of a Pearl Crescent butterfly
The picture shows a Pearl Crescent butterfly. Crescents rank among the smallest of the brush footed species. Look for them flying low to the ground.

The presence of ten Wood Nymphs and Satyrs provides a bit of diversity in the Mississippi brush foot category. Going against the wing color trend, most have brown wings and can be identified by their wing spots.

Brush footed
Little Metalmark
American Snout
Gulf Fritillary
Zebra Heliconian
Variegated Fritillary
Diana Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Red-spotted Purple
Astyanax’ Red-spotted Purple
Hackberry Emperor
Tawny Emperor
Silvery Checkerspot
Gorgone Checkerspot
Phaon Crescent
Pearl Crescent
Texan Crescent
Baltimore Checkerspot
Brush footed
Common Buckeye
White Peacock
Question Mark
Eastern Comma
Mourning Cloak
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
American Lady
Goatweed Leafwing
Southern Pearly-eye
Northern Pearly-eye
Creole Pearly-eye
Appalachian Brown
Gemmed Satyr
Georgia Satyr
Mitchell’s Satyr
Little Wood-Satyr
Carolina Satyr
Common Wood-Nymph

Mississippi Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of a Spicebush Swallowtail, the official state Butterfly of Mississippi and part of the Mississippi butterflies collection
When talking about Mississippi swallowtail butterflies, the Spicebush Swallowtail gets top billing as the official state butterfly. It’s also the most common swallowtail species. Northern Spicebush is a perennial shrub that can grow in sun or partial shade. It’s the host plant and a great no fuss no bother shrub for the yard.

picture of a Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly
Five of Mississippi’s swallowtail species have dark colored wings, making identification a bit complex. When wing colors and patterns fail to end the identification process, looking at the abdomen can help. For example, the Palamedes Swallowtail, pictured, can be most easily identified by the yellow abdomen with black stripes

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