Missouri Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

picture of an American Snout, part of the Missouri butterflies series

The show me state has a nice diversity of butterflies to show their visitors. In fact, Missouri butterflies hover around the two hundred species mark.

The question that Missouri tourists might ask, where to find Missouri butterflies, has been partially answered by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Natural habitats in Missouri that meet that description include prairies, glades and fens. A pasture of virtually a single species of non-native grass, while it will be sunny and open, will not supply the needs of most insects. The same can be said of most urban lawns, unless insect-friendly plants are included in nearby plantings.

Going to Faust Park, part of the St. Louis County Parks system also partially answers the question. It is home to two different butterfly exhibits. The first is an indoor butterfly house that hosts tropical species. The outside butterfly garden hosts native species. There’s always something butterfly going on for adults and children on a year long basis.

The picture at the top of the page shows a close up of an American Snout. They can sometimes be found in great numbers around the state, depending on how well their initial broods further south develop. Large numbers of the migrate north through the season for their second breeding.

This page provides a list of Missouri butterflies along with a pictures of a few representative species. Visitors looking for additional butterfly identification information can press the green butterflies button.

Missouri Butterflies: Brush Foots

picture of an American Lady butterfly
A nice variety of fritillary, checkerspot, crescent and wood nyph species means that visitors to the Show Me state can keep their cameras on so Missouri can show them their butterfly diversity.

The picture shows an American Lady butterfly, one of the members of the popular Vanessa genera. The white dot on the top wing serves as a great field ID clue. It differentiates it from the Painted Lady.

Both species (along with their genera partner the Red Admiral) are migratory species that arrive in large numbers in Missouri in the spring and summer to breed.

picture of a Great Spangled Fritillary
Many of the Fritillary species have larvae that feed on violets, so they are common state wide. The Regal Fritillary is a species of concern because its Prairie habitat is dwindling. Seeing an Arctic Fritillary in Missouri is a rare occurance.

The picture sows a Great Spangled Fritillary. Without a side view of the butterfly they look similar to most of the larger Fritillary species look similar.

Brush footed
American Snout
Gulf Fritillary
Julia Heliconian
Zebra Heliconian
Variegated Fritillary
Diana Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Aphrodite Fritillary
Regal Fritillary
Zerene Fritillary
Silver-bordered Fritillary
Meadow Fritillary
Arctic Fritillary
Red-spotted Purple or
astyanax Astyanax’ Red-spotted
Hackberry Emperor
Tawny Emperor
Common Mestra
Arachne Checkerspot
Silvery Checkerspot
Gorgone Checkerspot
Bordered Patch
Harris’ Checkerspot
Painted Crescent
Phaon Crescent
Pearl Crescent
Cuban Crescent
Texan Crescent
Baltimore Checkerspot
Common Buckeye
White Peacock
Question Mark
Eastern Comma
Satyr Comma
Green Comma
Gray Comma
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Compton Tortoiseshell
Mourning Cloak
California Tortoiseshell
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
American Lady
Tropical Leafwing
Goatweed Leafwing
Southern Pearly-eye
Northern Pearly-eye
Creole Pearly-eye
Eyed Brown
Appalachian Brown
Common Ringlet
Gemmed Satyr
Little Wood-Satyr
Carolina Satyr
Common Wood-Nymph
Small Wood-Nymph

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of a female Purplish Copper Butterfly
Many of the Gossamer wing butterflies in Missouri are common species from coast to coast. In the Blue category, Azures and Silvery Blues fit that description. Great Purple Hairstreaks and Juniper Hairstreaks also fit that description. However, most of the Hairstreak butterflies in the state are common only in the eastern areas.

The Purplish Copper butterfly in the picture can also be found on the West Coast.

picture of a Red-banded Hairstreak butterfly
A quick glance down the list of hairstreak butterflies in the state also provides a clue to their larval host plants. Oak and Hickory Hairstreaks are great examples. Look for them anywhere in the state that grows those trees.

The picture shows a Red-banded Hairstreak. It’s caterpillars feed on a variety of very common plants including sumac and oak. It’s fairly common in most areas of the state.

Cassius Blue
Marine Blue
Western Pygmy-Blue
Eastern Tailed-Blue
Western Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Summer Azure
Dusky Azure
Appalachian Azure
Silvery Blue
Reakirt’s Blue
Miami Blue
Melissa Blue
Great Purple Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak
Olive’ Juniper Hairstreak
Henry’s Elfin
Eastern Pine Elfin
Oak Hairstreak
Coral Hairstreak
Acadian Hairstreak
Hickory Hairstreak
Edwards’ Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
Striped Hairstreak
Soapberry Hairstreak
Red-banded Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
White-M Hairstreak
American Copper
Gray Copper
Bronze Copper
Purplish Copper

Whites and Yellows

picture of a Cabbage White butterfly
Pieridae is the formal name of the family that consists of the butterflies with white wings and yellow wings. The picture shows a common Cabbage White butterfly. Their caterpillars feed on plants in the cabbage family so they are very common in residential areas around the state.

picture of a clouded sulphur butterfly
The one dozen yellow butterflies in Missouri insure that they can be seen flying in fields, forests and residential areas throughout the entire season.

Dainty Sulphurs and Little Yellows are the smallest of the group. Many of the other Sulphurs are roughly the same size and difficult to identify without a good picture. The picture here shows a Clouded Sulphur butterfly. It is common state wide.

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

Falcate Orangetip
Olympia Marble
Florida White
Pine White
Cabbage White
Checkered White
Great Southern White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Southern Dogface
Cloudless Sulphur
Large Orange Sulphur
Orange-barred Sulphur
Lyside Sulphur
Barred Yellow
Mexican Yellow
Little Yellow
Sleepy Orange
Dainty Sulphur

Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of a Palamedes Swallowtail
Missouri shares all of the Swallowtail butterfly speceies common in the Midwest, and probably throughout the eastern portion of the United States. The picture shows the very common Palamedes Swallowtail. It’s one of five species with dark wings. Look for the stripes on the abdomen for a better identification clue.
  • Pipevine Swallowtail
  • Polydamas Swallowtail
  • Zebra Swallowtail
  • Ozark Swallowtail
  • Black Swallowtail
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • Pale Swallowtail
  • Spicebush Swallowtail
  • Palamedes Swallowtail
  • Giant Swallowtail

Butterflies: Metalmarks

picture of a Swamp Metalmark
  • Northern Metalmark
  • Swamp Metalmark