New York Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

picture of a Red-spotted Admiral, the official state butterfly of New York

Thanks for visiting New York butterflies. Butterflies are abundant across New York state. However, the types of butterflies in New York depends on the location. For example, according to the North American Butterfly Association (NABA):

The soils in the Catskills are mostly acidic; in the Finger Lakes, soils are more basic. In the Hudson Mohawk River corridor, some areas have much sand. Soil pH determines the plants that grow there, and therefore the butterflies. For example, Brown Elfins feed as caterpillars on blueberries (Vaccinium) in acid-soil regions; ’Olive’ Juniper Hairstreaks on red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) in limy areas.

The Adirondack Mountains also host distinct species and tourists in the area might want to check out the Breck Chapin Memorial Native Species Butterfly House. It hosts the approximately sixty native moth butterfly species. It’s also a great way to get multiple pictures in one fun filled afternoon.

Down south, especially in the warmer metropolitan areas butterfly species are different. The New York Botanical Garden cites the following list as common butterflies in New York City.

  • Black Swallowtail
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • Clouded Sulphur
  • Buckeye
  • Spring Azure
  • Monarch
  • Pearl Crescent
Apart from the common, New York City also hosts the uncommon butterfly species. In fact, according to a recent survey by the New York City Butterfly Club about one hundred and twenty different species can be found within a fifty mile radius of the city.

Butterflies abound in all five boroughs. Join them as they take the shoe leather express through the parks in search of these denizens of the Big Apple. Visitors need only check out one of four butterfly gardens in Central Park to get a taste of the action.

The Red-spotted Purple or White Admiral Admiral, pictured at the top of the page, was recently designated the state’s official butterfly. Welcome to the world of New York butterflies.

This introduction to New York butterflies provides a list of the species documented in the state. Visitors looking for more butterfly pictures and identification help can press the green butterfly button for more information.

Butterflies: Whites and Yellows

picture of a checkered white butterfly
Pieridae butterflies are the ones with white wings and yellow wings. New York has an average number of species. The picture shows a Checkered White butterfly.

Most poeople will recognize the Cabbage White because it lives in every residential neighborhood in the state that hosts back yard gardens. Their caterpillars feed on plants in the cabbage family, very popular back yard garden vegetables.

picture of a Sleepy Orange butterfly
Little Yellows and Dainty Sulphurs will be the smallest of the yellow butterflies in the state. Most of the sulphurs look very similar with the Clouded and the Cloudless being the most common species.

The picture shows a Sleepy Orange butterfly. It’s a southern species that can be found occasionally in New York.

Falcate Orangetip
Olympia Marble
Florida White
Mustard White
West Virginia White
Cabbage White
Large White
Checkered White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Pink-edged Sulphur
Southern Dogface
Cloudless Sulphur
Large Orange Sulphur
Orange-barred Sulphur
Little Yellow
Sleepy Orange
Dainty Sulphur

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of a Silvery Blue Butterfly
Most of the Gossamar Wing butterflies are not city dwellers, due partially to the fact that cities don’t often have plants that serve as larval hosts.

The list of New York’s blue butterflies reads about the same as other Atlantic coastal states. A small population of the endangered Karner’s Blue (Melissa Blue) has been documented in the Hudson River area.

Tailed-blues and Azures have larvae with very flexible eating habits, so they are the most common species in the state. It’s often, but not always easier to find many of the following species, especially the copper butterflies in the fields, forests and mountains of New York.

The picture shows a Silvery Blue Butterfly.

picture of an American Copper butterfly
The picture shows an American Copper butterfly.

Marine Blue
Eastern Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Northern Azure
Summer Azure
Appalachian Azure
Cherry Gall Azure
Silvery Blue
Melissa Blue
Great Purple Hairstreak
Hessel’s Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak
Brown Elfin
Hoary Elfin
Frosted Elfin
Henry’s Elfin
Eastern Pine Elfin
Bog Elfin
Oak Hairstreak
Coral Hairstreak
Acadian Hairstreak
Hickory Hairstreak
Edwards’ Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
Striped Hairstreak
Red-banded Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
White-M Hairstreak
Early Hairstreak
American Copper
Bronze Copper
Bog Copper
Purplish Copper

Brush Footed Butterflies

picture of a Milbert's Tortoiseshell
A look down the list of New York Brush Footed butterflies reads like a plant menu. It’s a testament to the dietary habits of butterfly larvae and the common wildflowers of the East Coast that so many of the New York Brush Footed butterflies can be found as far south as Florida and South Texas.

Monarchs, Fritillaries Emperors and Ladies all fit this pattern. Fritillary butterflies can easily be identified as a group by the spots on the underside of the wings. The Great Spangled Fritillary is a northern species and probably the most common in New York. As the name implies, the Gulf Fritillary is a southern species with a small presence in the state.

Growing violets, the larval host plant of many species, is an easy way to insure fritillary butterflies are n the back yard from season to season.

The picture shows a Milbert’s Tortoiseshell, a rather nice looking and widespread species. In the West, for example, it can be found as far north as Alaska and as far South as Arizona.

picture of an American Lady butterfly on Milkweed
The Vanessa butterflies, Ladies and Red Admiral are migrating species like the Monarch. Every season they return to the south. As spring approaches they migrate north, sometimes in large numbers, for breeding. The picture shows a side view of an American Lady.

Brush footed
American Snout
Gulf Fritillary
Julia Heliconian
Variegated Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Aphrodite Fritillary
Regal Fritillary
Atlantis Fritillary
Silver-bordered Fritillary
Meadow Fritillary
Red-spotted Purple
arthemis White Admiral
Astyanax’ Red-spotted Purple
Hackberry Emperor
Tawny Emperor
Crimson Patch
Silvery Checkerspot
Gorgone Checkerspot
Harris’ Checkerspot
Pearl Crescent
Northern Crescent
Tawny Crescent
Brush footed
Baltimore Checkerspot
Common Buckeye
White Peacock
Question Mark
Eastern Comma
Green Comma
Hoary Comma
Gray Comma
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Small Tortoiseshell
Compton Tortoiseshell
Mourning Cloak
California Tortoiseshell
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
American Lady
European Peacock
Northern Pearly-eye
Eyed Brown
Appalachian Brown
Common Ringlet
Little Wood-Satyr
Jutta Arctic
Common Wood-Nymph

Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of a Giant Swallowtail
Whether you are a tourist in the Big Apple or a New York resident from the north, Swallowtail butterflies are a fact of life. The nine listed species are indicative of a nice diversity.

The picture shows a Giant Swallowtail, a not very common species. The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail has a state wide distribution.

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

Butterflies: Metalmarks

Also typical of East Coast butterflies is the Northern Metalmark as the sole species in the state.