Thanks for visiting New Hampshire butterflies.
The New Hampshire butterfly population follows the general pattern for initial estimations of butterfly diversity. It’s a small state in the north and therefore it sits at the lower end of the butterfly diversity scale for US states. Including skipper butterflies, approximately one hundred and twenty five species have been documented in the state.
The picture shows a Satyr Comma. It’s an overwintering species that greets New Hampshire residents as soon as the spring thaw begins.
New Hampshire Audubon recently completed an almost state wide butterfly survey in order to know how to plan for managing the state’s population as the climate changes. They concluded:
NHA identified significant sources of data on butterfly distribution in the state, including active collectors and photographers, regional experts, and museum collections. Over 8,400 records of 124 species were compiled. Data were compiled for 172 towns, leaving 87 without any records at all. Species richness by county ranged from 21 – 88, with Merrimack County having the most species. Species richness by town ranged from 0 – 78, with high concentrations of species from Durham, Jefferson, Concord, Pittsburg and Whitefield. Clouded Sulphur had the most records (377). Other species with more than 200 records included White Admiral, Cabbage White, Hobomok Skipper, Atlantis Fritillary, Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, Common Ringlet, American Copper and Spring Azure.
This introduction provides a list of New Hampshire butterflies along with pictures of some representative species.
Visitors looking for additional butterfly pictures and identification help can press the green butterfly button for more information.
Butterflies: Whites and Yellows
The list of eight Pieridae species documented in New Hampshire is testament to the low butterfly diversity. The picture shows a Checkered White butterfly. Without a doubt residents of the state are also have a good familiarity with the Cabbage White butterfly because it’s larvae feeds on plants in the cabbage family, a back yard garden favorite group of vegetables.
Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers
Mountains, valleys and the ponds and streams that flow through them explain the increased diversity in blue, hairstreak and copper butterflies in the state. The picture shows a Bog Copper.
Have you seen the Juniper Hairstreak in New Hampshire? The New Hampshire Audubon would like to know because they think it’s a declining species. Their larvae consume leave of Cedar and Juniper.
Southerns who visit New Hampshire might want to keep an eye open for the Acadian Hairstreak. It’s a norther species that uses willow trees as larval host plants. Otherwise, New Hampshire is fairly close to the northern boundary for many of the Hairstreak species common in the eastern half of the United States.
No butterfly gets more attention in New Hampshire than the Karner Blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis). First, it was named the official New Hampshire butterfly in 1992. Second it is listed on the endangered species list.
State officials have been working on a captive breeding program for approximately two decades. They release he individuals in the Concord Pine Barrens area over time and they have expressed confidence that the new population of Karner Blues will be sustainably developed in the field in a couple of years.
The picture shows it to be a beautiful blue butterfly with orange spots going up both sides of the under wings.
Tailed-blues and Azures are typically the most common blue butterflies in the state because their larvae feed on some very common plants such as members of the pea family.
Cherry Gall Azure
Eastern Pine Elfin
Western Pine Elfin
New Hampshire Butterflies: Brush Footed
New Hampshire does host a nice diversity of fritillary species. With few exceptions, such as with the Speyeria fritillaries, identifying the species present in the garden can be quite easy.
Regal Fritillaries pictured, fly in prairies that host Prairie violets, the larval food. The dark upper forewing tip of the female is the easiest way to separate the sexes in the field. They only live through the summer season and start the metamorphosis cycle on a yearly basis.
New Hampshire’s common butterfly populations looks similar to many of the state’s brushfoot species. Orange wings with a pattern on top. The underside of the wing has a distinct comma mark, hence the common name. The picture shows a Green Comma.
Great Spangled Fritillary
Astyanax’ Red-spotted Purple
The presence of Dutchman’s Pipes and Spicebush, fruit trees and plants in the carrot family insures that swallowtail butterflies are present throughout New Hampshire. They are the typical hosts for Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. The picture shows the very common Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.
- Pipevine Swallowtail
- Black Swallowtail
- Canadian Tiger Swallowtail
- Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
- Spicebush Swallowtail
- Giant Swallowtail