Rocky Mountain states such as Utah rank as some of the best butterfly destinations in the United States. The east-west divide means that the eastern slopes of the state attract many of the eastern butterflies and the western slopes, valleys and fields support entirely different butterfly populations.
According to the Utah Lepidopterists’ Society:
In the north, Utah’s geographical diversity includes the eastern extension of the Great Basin approaching the western extension of the Rocky Mountains. Salt Lake and Utah Valley citizens are privileged to live in the buffer zone between these two vastly differing mountain ranges. The southern part of the state is divided amongst further montane regions intermixed with Canyon Country habitats comprising the northern section of the Colorado Plateau.
So, the types of butterflies anyone visiting Utah will see is highly dependent on the places they visit.
According to the Utah Bug Club
Because of the general lack of native vegetation in our cities and suburbs, the mix of butterflies in Northern Utah yards and parks is definitely limited; unless you live near natural habitat such as mountain canyons or rivers. However, there are are a few butterflies that do fly around our neighborhoods, the cabbage white being the most common.
They suggest that visitors to the northern urban areas head out to the local canyons because the water attracts large numbers of butterflies.
This introduction to Utah butterflies is organized according to family. It provides a list of the butterfly species found in the state along with a handful of butterfly pictures.
Visitors looking for additional butterfly pictures and butterfly identification help can press the green butterfly button for more information.
Butterflies: Whites and Yellows
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. Here’s a list of the rest of the white butterflies and yellow butterflies documented in the state.
Yellow butterfly species are plentiful in the state. Mead’s Sulphur and Scudder’s Sulphur are Rocky Mountain specialties.
The remaining species are common in the West and South. The picture shows a Dainty Sulphur, one of the smaller yellow butterfly species.
Queen Alexandra’s Sulphur
Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers
Almost five dozen Gossamar Wing butterflies find a home in Utah. The mountain areas insure they have habitat to support a wide variety of blue butterflies that can be also be found in other northern and southern locations. Deserts and valleys provide habitat for even more species.
Move down to the Hairsreak and Copper butterfly genera and the pattern is similar. Tourists can have the proverbial field day keeping their eyes peeled to the ground in search of all these small and beautiful butterflies. The picture shows a California Hairstreak.
Western Square-dotted Blue
Rocky Mountain Dotted-Blue
Great Purple Hairstreak
Western Green Hairstreak
Sheridan’s Green Hairstreak
Desert Green Hairstreak
Western Pine Elfin
Brush Footed Butterflies
Multiple habitats means that multiple fritillaries, commas, crescents, checkerspots and wood nymphs also abound in the state. The picture show a side view of a Leanira Checkerspot.
Many of these brush footed species fly in residential areas and around gardens in cities. They are probably the most visible to tourists and fairly easy to photograph.
With names such as Alpines and Arctics it’s easy to guess that this group of brushfoots live in the Utah mountain areas.
Great Spangled Fritillary
Great Basin Fritillary
West Coast Lady
Great Basin Wood-Nymph
The list of Utah swallowtail butterflies is similar to many other Western state butterfly lists.
Not many states support Old World Swallowtails, so getting a picture of one in Utah often ranks high on life lists for many butterfly enthusiasts.
- Clodius Parnassian
- Rocky Mountain Parnassian
- Pipevine Swallowtail
- Old World Swallowtail
- Black Swallowtail
- Anise Swallowtail
- Indra Swallowtail
- Western Tiger Swallowtail
- Pale Swallowtail
- Two-tailed Swallowtail
Metalmark butterflies are a tropical family of butterflies. Utah begins the northern trend for Metalmark species. They are low in number and the species have brown wings. The picture shows the Mormon Metalmark.
- Fatal Metalmark
- Mormon Metalmark
- Palmer’s Metalmark