One look down the list might surprise butterfly enthusiasts who never thought of Nevada as a butterfly hot spot. The types of butterflies in Nevada are dependent on Nevada Geography. From the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Toiyabe Range in Central Nevada to the deserts and the large metropolitan areas like Las Vegas, butterflies abound.
Estimates of butterfly populations in Las Vegas tend to differ by about ten species plus or minus. Generally about one hundred and twenty species are recorded in all of Clark County.
Areas such as Red Rock Canyon and Mount Charleston are the most butterfly diverse, and as advertised a quick drive from Las Vegas.
This introduction to Nevada butterflies provides a list of the species in the state arranged according to family. Fortunately for butterfly identification purposes, most of the families are differentiated by wing color.
Limited space means only a few butterfly pictures can be presented here. Visitors looking for additional butterfly pictures and identification help can press the green butterfly button for more information.
Pieridae is the formal name of the family that consists of the butterflies with white wings and yellow wings.
All four or the Orangetips look similar, they have different geographical locations in the state. Look for a white butterfly with orange spots on the top of the wings in early spring in the valleys and early summer in the mountains.
The picture shows a Pine White butterfly. They are common in forest areas and their larvae feed on trees in the pine family. Becker’s Whites and Checkered Whites are more common in the fields and desert areas around Las Vegas.
Barred Yellow butterfly. Here’s a list of the rest of the white butterflies and yellow butterflies documented in the state.
Queen Alexandra’s Sulphur
Large Orange Sulphur
Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers
Nevada is one of a handful of states where blue butterfly diversity outpaces hairstreak diversity.
No doubt the Mount Charleston blue butterfly, a subspecies of he more comma Shasta Blue, receives headlines because of its 2013 Endangered Listing.
The good news is that 5,214 acres of land in the Spring Mountains of near Clark County were designated as critical habitat. That makes the entire area a butterfly safe zone and great place checking out all of butterflies.
The picture at the top of the section shows a mating pair of Boisduval’s blue.
Because of their small size, it’s important to get macro shots of the side view or shots of the underwings of the blue butterflies in order to accurately identify them.
See the following blue butterfly pictures as an example.
Eastern Tailed Blue
Sierra Nevada Blue
Western Pygmy Blue
Western Tailed Blue
The remaining list of blue, hairstreak and copper butterflies covers all of Nevada.
Rocky Mountain Dotted-Blue
Great Purple Hairstreak
Western Green Hairstreak
Sheridan’s Green Hairstreak
comstocki Desert Green
Western Pine Elfin
Mountain Mahogany Hairstreak
Sagebrush Sooty Hairstreak
Brush Footed Butterflies
Las Vegas visitors, especially those from the East Coast, would do great things for their butterfly life list by keeping their eyes peeled for the Admirals, Sisters and Checkerspots. Many of the species, such as the California Sister in the picture are not native to areas of the East Coast.
Other species, such as snouts, monarch, queens and some of the fritillary are common across the east.
Great Spangled Fritillary
Great Basin Fritillary
Great Basin Wood-Nymph
West Coast Lady
Nevada Butterflies: Swallowtails
Nevada also has a nice diversity of swallowtail butterflies. The Parnassians and Old World Swallowtail would be the best finds for East Coast visitors. The picture shows a Pale Swallowtail. It looks very similar to the Tiger Swallowtails with and more pale yellow wing color.
- Clodius Parnassian
- Rocky Mountain Parnassian
- Pipevine Swallowtail
- Old World Swallowtail
- Black Swallowtail
- Anise Swallowtail
- Indra Swallowtail
- Western Tiger Swallowtail
- Pale Swallowtail
- Two-tailed Swallowtail
Nevada Butterflies: Metalmarks
Metalmarks species range in size as well as having a variety of wing patterns and behaviors. One quick tip for differentiating between sexes is to look at the legs. Females have three pairs of walking legs, but males have two. Their front legs are reduced. The picture shows a fatal metalmark.
- Fatal Metalmark
- Wright’s Metalmark
- Mormon Metalmark
- Sonoran Metalmark
- Palmer’s Metalmark