New Mexico Butterflies: Pictures and Identification Tips

While Texas claims the top spot for butterfly diversity in the United States, its neighbor New Mexico butterflies also tops the butterfly diversity chart.

The Rocky Mountains in the north and the deserts of the south bookend some beautiful fields and forests in the state. All the habitat diversity means the state butterfly population rockets past the three hundred species mark.

This introduction to New Mexico butterflies provides some basic tips with pictures and a video. Please press the green butterflies button for a variety of species in all the families listed below.

Finding butterflies in New Mexico is easy. Tourist destinations such as Albuquerque have butterfly pavilions at their Botanical Gardens.

Santa Fe Botanical Gardens also attracts butterflies year round. A bit to the north of Santa Fe, the Jemez Mountains hosts about one hundred and fifty species.

In the south, Las Cruces hosts a butterfly festival at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park.

Everywhere in between butterflies fly in fields, forests and back yard gardens. This introduction to New Mexico butterflies provides only a few butterfly pictures, along with a complete list of butterflies.

It divides into families, which align closely with wing color. Visitors looking for additional butterfly identification help can press the green butterfly button for more information.

New Mexico Butterflies – Brush foot

picture of an Empress Leilia butterfly, part of the New Mexico butterflies collection
Easy butterfly identification usually begins with noting wing color. The large and often orange color wings of the brush foot family make them garden favorites.

The types of butterflies in New Mexico in the Brush-footed family extends down two long columns. A quick look at the species shows some definite desert Southwest border species such as Silver Emperor, Common Mestra, Dingy Purplewing, Blackened Bluewing, and Gray Cracker. With names such as Polixenes Arctic, Melissa Arctic, Chryxus Arctic, Alberta Arctic and Uhler’s Arctic, it would be a good guess those butterfly species inhabited the northern mountain regions. The picture shows and Empress Leilia, one of the Southwest regional species.

picture of the endangered Sacramento Mountain Checkerspot, part of the New Mexico butterflies collection
New Mexico does have one endangered butterfly, the Sacramento Mountain Checkerspot, pictured. It’s range is very limited to the Sacramento Mountains in the South. Recently, (August 2023) the USFWS proposed placing around 1,500 acres in the area as critical habitat to ensure it’s continued existence. The picture also comes courtesy of the USFWS.

As the list shows, New Mexico hosts variety of Checkerspot butterflies. The video at the top of the page shows the Theona Checkerspot another fairly common Southwest species. The picture and the video highlight another elementary butterfly tip, wing patterns help with initial identification. The checkerspot pattern on the wings explains the common name.

picture of the top wings of the Gulf Fritillary, part of the New Mexico butterflies collection
Other more common crescent, comma milkweed and lady species fly the fields, forests, parks and residential areas around New Mexico. The picture shows the Gulf Fritillary with distinct orange wings and markings.

Brush footed
American Snout
Mexican Silverspot
Gulf Fritillary
Banded Orange Heliconian
Isabella’s Heliconian
Zebra Heliconian
Variegated Fritillary
Mexican Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Aphrodite Fritillary
Nokomis Fritillary
Edwards’ Fritillary
Atlantis Fritillary
Northwestern Fritillary
Mormon Fritillary
Silver-bordered Fritillary
Freija Fritillary
Arctic Fritillary
Red-spotted Purple
Arizona Red-spotted Purple
Weidemeyer’s Admiral
Arizona Sister
Ruddy Daggerwing
Hackberry Emperor
Empress Leilia
Tawny Emperor
Silver Emperor
Common Mestra
Dingy Purplewing
Blackened Bluewing
Gray Cracker
Dotted Checkerspot
Arachne Checkerspot
Crimson Patch
Definite Patch
Rosita Patch
Theona Checkerspot
Fulvia Checkerspot
Silvery Checkerspot
Gorgone Checkerspot
Bordered Patch
Sagebrush Checkerspot
Tiny Checkerspot
Elada Checkerspot
Brush footed
Vesta Crescent
Painted Crescent
Mylitta Crescent
Phaon Crescent
Pearl Crescent
Northern Crescent
Tawny Crescent
Field Crescent
Texan Crescent
Chalcedon Checkerspot
Anicia Checkerspot
Common Buckeye
Tropical Buckeye
White Peacock
Rusty-tipped Page
Question Mark
Satyr Comma
Green Comma
Hoary Comma
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Mourning Cloak
California Tortoiseshell
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
West Coast Lady
American Lady
Tropical Leafwing
Goatweed Leafwing
Common Ringlet
Nabokov’s Satyr
Canyonland Satyr
Red Satyr
Magdalena Alpine
Common Alpine
Ridings’ Satyr
Polixenes Arctic
Melissa Arctic
Chryxus Arctic
Alberta Arctic
Uhler’s Arctic
Common Wood-Nymph
Mead’s Wood-Nymph
Great Basin Wood-Nymph
Small Wood-Nymph
Red-bordered Satyr

Butterflies: Whites and Yellows

picture of a Western White butterfly
Visitors to the Land of Enchantment will be enchanted at the many opportunities to photography white and yellow butterfly species that fit nicely on their life lists. Chiricahua whites, Statira Sulphur, Angled Whites and more are very rare species. The picture shows a more common Western white species.

picture of a tailed Orange butterfly, part of the New Mexico butterflies collection
Yellow butterflies abound in the state. Identification tips often focus on size and wing patterns. Side views of the wing patterns usually help with identification.

The picture shows a Tailed Orange butterfly, with the extended tail looking portion on the edge of the wings accounting for the common name.

Desert Orangetip
Southern Rocky Mountain Orangetip
Southwestern Orangetip
Large Marble
Olympia Marble
Desert Marble
Florida White
Pine White
Chiricahua White
Margined White
Cabbage White
Becker’s White
Checkered White
Western White
Spring White
Great Southern White
Giant White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Queen Alexandra’s Sulphur
Mead’s Sulphur
Scudder’s Sulphur
Southern Dogface
Yellow Angled-Sulphur
White Angled-Sulphur
Cloudless Sulphur
Large Orange Sulphur
Orange-barred Sulphur
Statira Sulphur
Lyside Sulphur
Barred Yellow
Boisduval’s Yellow
Mexican Yellow
Tailed Orange
Little Yellow
Mimosa Yellow
Sleepy Orange
Dainty Sulphur

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of an Arizona hairstreak
Green butterfly fans will enjoy New Mexico. Stay awhile and photograph the Apama Western Green, Sheridan’s Green Hairstreak, Xami Hairstreak, Silver-banded Hairstreak and Arizona Hairstreak (pictured). They’re all green.

Plan to stay an entire season in order to photographically capture the beauty and diversity of all the blues, hairstreaks and coppers in the state.

Marine Blue
Cyna Blue
Western Pygmy-Blue
Eastern Tailed-Blue
Western Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Arrowhead Blue
Silvery Blue
Western Square-dotted Blue
Rocky Mountain Dotted-Blue
Rita Dotted-Blue
Spalding’s Dotted-Blue
Ceraunus Blue
Reakirt’s Blue
Melissa Blue
Greenish Blue
Boisduval’s Blue
Acmon Blue
Lupine Blue
Arctic Blue
Colorado Hairstreak
Great Purple Hairstreak
Western Green Hairstreak
Apama Western Green
Sheridan’s Green Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak
Thicket Hairstreak
Xami Hairstreak
Sandia Hairstreak
Brown Elfin
Desert Elfin
Hoary Elfin
Henry’s Elfin
Western Pine Elfin
Oak Hairstreak
Ilavia Hairstreak
Poling’s Hairstreak
Coral Hairstreak
Sylvan Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
Striped Hairstreak
Hedgerow Hairstreak
Behr’s Hairstreak
Soapberry Hairstreak
Silver-banded Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
Red-lined Scrub-Hairstreak
Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak
Leda Ministreak
Arizona Hairstreak
Tailed Copper
American Copper
Lustrous Copper
Gray Copper
Bronze Copper
Ruddy Copper
Blue Copper
Purplish Copper

New Mexico Butterflies: Metalmarks

picture of an Arizona Metalmark
The more colorful subtropical Metalmarks don’t have a presence in New Mexico. However the nice species does represent a nice diversity. The picture shows an Arizona metalmark.
  • Fatal Metalmark
  • Arizona Metalmark
  • Zela Metalmark
  • Ares Metalmark
  • Mormon Metalmark
  • Mexican Metalmark
  • Sonoran Metalmark
  • Palmer’s Metalmark
  • Nais Metalmark

New Mexcio Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of an Old World Swallowtail
Southwest, Northwest, East and West is the rhyme and reason for New Mexico Swallowtail butterflies. Broad-banded Swallowtails and Ornythion Swallowtails are Southwest based. The Parnassians are mountain and Northwest based. Eastern and Western Tiger swallowtails bridges the coast to coast divide.

Visitors will never run out of swallowtail butterfly photography opportunities. Enjoy. The picture shows an Old World swallowtail.

  • Rocky Mountain Parnassian
  • Pipevine Swallowtail
  • Polydamas Swallowtail
  • Old World Swallowtail
  • Black Swallowtail
  • Anise Swallowtail
  • Indra Swallowtail
  • Western Tiger Swallowtail
  • Pale Swallowtail
  • Two-tailed Swallowtail
  • Palamedes Swallowtail
  • Giant Swallowtail
  • Broad-banded Swallowtail
  • Ornythion Swallowtail