South Dakota Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

picture of a Poweshiek Skipperling butterfly

Thanks for visiting South Dakota butterflies. Including the Skipper butterflies not listed here, South Dakota hosts close to 180 butterfly species.

Two of the Skipper butterfly species that reside in South Dakota, the Dakota skipper and the Poweshiek skipperling are listed as threatened or endangered.

The name skipperling translates into a smaller skipper butterfly. The top picture shows a Poweshiek skipperling with the fuzzy white face and brown wings. Have you seen it. Experts think it might now be extripated from the state.

All might be well for the reminder of the state’s butterflies. An expert from South Dakota State University estimates there are approximately 41 species present in all of the states counties. Anywhere you travel in the state during the season will result in a good butterfly day.

Tourists with a yearning for butterflies will find the best butterfly experiences in the Black Hills, due largely to the geographical diversity of the area.

This introduction to South Dakota butterflies divides the group into families, which also translates into identifying the species based primarily on wing color.

Space limitations mean that on a handful of butterfly pictures can be presented. Visitors looking for additional butterfly pictures and identification help can press the green butterflies button.

Butterflies: Whites and Yellows

picture of a Checkered White butterfly
Pieridae is the formal name of the family that consists of the butterflies with white wings and yellow wings. Most states have more of the yellow butterfly species.

The presence of Marbles and an Orangetips makes South Dakota more balanced in Pieridae species. However, distribution maps show that many are found regionally. Pine Whites and Spring Whites, for example are located in the western part of the state. Mustard Whites are generally found in the northeast corner of the state.

The picture shows a Checkered White butterfly. It has an almost state wide distribution.

picture of a Little Yellow butterfly
Distribution patterns are similar for the yellow butterflies. Most of the more southern oriented yellow butterflies such as Sleepy Oranges, Barred Yellow and Large Orange Sulphurs have a very limited presence in the state and occasionally stray there as the winds blow.

The other sulphur butterflies are more common, not only in South Dakota, but also across the northern tier of the United States.

The picture shows a Little Yellow butterfly. Along with the Dainty Sulphur they rank as the smallest (in size) of the yellow butterflies.

Stella Orangetip
Large Marble
Olympia Marble
Pine White
Margined White
Mustard White
Cabbage White
Checkered White
Western White
Spring White
Great Southern White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Christina Sulphur
Queen Alexandra’s Sulphur
Southern Dogface
Cloudless Sulphur
Large Orange Sulphur
Barred Yellow
Mexican Yellow
Little Yellow
Sleepy Orange
Dainty Sulphur

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of an Edwards' Hairtreak
South Dakota also has a nice balance of gossamer wing butterflies, known better as the blues, hairstreaks and coppers.

Of course the hairstreak butterflies are best identified by the presence of a hair like projection on the bottom of the wings. They have regional distributions in the state. The picture shows an Edward’s Hairstreak. It is only found in the northwest corner of the state.

picture of a pair of Boisduval Butterflies
Western South Dakota is a great place for the blue butterflies. Almost all the species can be found in the bordering counties. The picture shows a pair of Boiduval’s Blues.

Marine Blue
Eastern Tailed-Blue
Western Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Summer Azure
Arrowhead Blue
Silvery Blue
Rocky Mountain Dotted-Blue
Reakirt’s Blue
Melissa Blue
Greenish Blue
Boisduval’s Blue
Shasta Blue
Lupine Blue
Arctic Blue
Juniper Hairstreak
Brown Elfin
Hoary Elfin
Western Pine Elfin
Coral Hairstreak
Acadian Hairstreak
Edwards’ Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
Striped Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
American Copper
Gray Copper
Bronze Copper
Ruddy Copper
Purplish Copper

Brush Footed Butterflies

picture of a Regal Fritillary butterfly
The presence of multiple species of fritillaries, checkerspots, commas and other Brush Footed genera explains the diversity in this family. The picture shows a Regal Fritillary.

All the Fritillary can be identified as a group by the presence of spots on the underwings. Sometimes they go by the nickname silverspots.

picture of a Hoary Comma
Commas are another interesting group of brushfoots. Like the Fritillares, they are above average size and have orange wings with marking on the top. The underside of the wing has a comma mark, which provides the group with the common name.

The picture shows an Hoary Comma.

Brush footed
American Snout
Gulf Fritillary
Variegated Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Aphrodite Fritillary
Regal Fritillary
Edwards’ Fritillary
Coronis Fritillary
Zerene Fritillary
Callippe Fritillary
Atlantis Fritillary
Northwestern Fritillary
Mormon Fritillary
Silver-bordered Fritillary
Meadow Fritillary
Red-spotted Purple
White Admiral
Astyanax’ Red-spotted Purple
Weidemeyer’s Admiral
Hackberry Emperor
Tawny Emperor
Common Mestra
Silvery Checkerspot
Gorgone Checkerspot
Bordered Patch
Sagebrush Checkerspot
Brush footed
Pale Crescent
Pearl Crescent
Northern Crescent
Tawny Crescent
Field Crescent
Texan Crescent
Chalcedon Checkerspot
Anicia Checkerspot
Common Buckeye
Question Mark
Eastern Comma
Satyr Comma
Green Comma
Hoary Comma
Gray Comma
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Compton Tortoiseshell
Mourning Cloak
California Tortoiseshell
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
West Coast Lady
American Lady
Goatweed Leafwing
Northern Pearly-eye
Eyed Brown
Common Ringlet
Little Wood-Satyr
Ridings’ Satyr
Uhler’s Arctic
Common Wood-Nymph
Mead’s Wood-Nymph
Small Wood-Nymph

Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of a black swallowtail butterfly
South Dakota has an unusually large number of Swallowtail butterfly species. It’s a combination of east meets west and north meets south for the state. Notice the presence of both Eastern and Western Swallowtail butterflies, along with Canadian Tiger Swallowtails and Giant Swallowtails.
  • Rocky Mountain Parnassian
  • Pipevine Swallowtail
  • Zebra Swallowtail
  • Old World Swallowtail
  • Black Swallowtail
  • Anise Swallowtail
  • Indra Swallowtail
  • Canadian Tiger Swallowtail
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • Western Tiger Swallowtail
  • Pale Swallowtail
  • Two-tailed Swallowtail
  • Spicebush Swallowtail
  • Giant Swallowtail

Butterflies: Metalmarks

picture of a Mormon Metalmark butterfly
  • Mormon Metalmark