Utah Butterflies: Pictures and Identification Help


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.

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.

Utah Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of an Old World Swallowtail
The list of Utah swallowtail butterflies is similar to many other Western state butterfly lists. The video clip at the top of the page shows an Indra Swallowtail. It’s one of the species with dark color wings. It’s also interesting to note that sometimes, but not always, Indra Swallowtails lack the characteristic long tails of other swallowtails.

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

Butterflies: Whites and Yellows

picture of a Checkered White butterfly, Utah butterflies
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. Utah’s geographical diversity translates into a nice selection of butterflies with white wing color.

picture of a Dainty sulphur on Aster
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.

Desert Orangetip
Stella Orangetip
Southwestern Orangetip
Large Marble
Desert Marble
Pine White
Margined White
Cabbage White
Becker’s White
Checkered White
Western White
Spring White
Clouded Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Western Sulphur
Queen Alexandra’s Sulphur
Mead’s Sulphur
Scudder’s Sulphur
Southern Dogface
White Angled-Sulphur
Cloudless Sulphur
Mexican Yellow
Mimosa Yellow
Sleepy Orange
Dainty Sulphur

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of an Arrowhead Blue, part of the Utah butterflies section
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. Arrowhead blue butterflies mostly inhabit mountain areas.

picture of an  Boisduval Blue, part of the Utah butterflies section
Getting side view pictures of blue butterflies helps greatly with identification, because most will show different colors and patterns. The dark spots with white outlines on the top wing, along with the white spots on the bottom wing provide good identification clues.

The long list of dotted and spotted blues might make for some identification confusion due to their very similar appearance on a side view picture. Normally there are slight differences in the orange spots on the edge of the bottom wing and slight differences in the pattern on the front wing.

picture of a California Hairstreak
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.

A few of the species such as

Marine Blue
Western Pygmy-Blue
Western Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Northern Azure
Summer Azure
Echo Azure
Arrowhead Blue
Silvery Blue
Small Dotted-Blue
Western Square-dotted Blue
Bernardino Dotted-Blue
Ellis’ Dotted-Blue
Bauer’s Dotted-Blue
Rocky Mountain Dotted-Blue
Mojave Dotted-Blue
Rita Dotted-Blue
Pallid Dotted-Blue
Spalding’s Dotted-Blue
Ceraunus Blue
Reakirt’s Blue
Northern Blue
Melissa Blue
Greenish Blue
Boisduval’s Blue
Shasta Blue
Lupine Blue
Arctic Blue
Stanfords’ Blue
Colorado Hairstreak
Great Purple Hairstreak
Western Green Hairstreak
Sheridan’s Green Hairstreak
Desert Green Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak
Thicket Hairstreak
Brown Elfin
Desert Elfin
Hoary Elfin
Western Pine Elfin
Coral Hairstreak
California Hairstreak
Sylvan Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
Hedgerow Hairstreak
Behr’s Hairstreak
Sooty Hairstreak
Silver-banded Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
Leda Ministreak
Tailed Copper
American Copper
Lustrous Copper
Edith’s Copper
Bronze Copper
Ruddy Copper
Blue Copper
Purplish Copper
Lilac-bordered Copper

Brush Footed Butterflies

picture of a Green Comma Butterfly, part of the Utah butterflies collection
A quick look down the brush foot butterfly list shows that the majority of species follow the orange wing rule of thumb. The Green Comma is one of five native comma species. Orange wing color, a relatively rough wing pattern represent the first couple of initial field identification clues.

A side view would also show the distinct comma mark present in all comma species.

picture of a Painted Lady butterfly, part of the Utah butterflies collection

The Lady butterflies share a similar top wing pattern and color. Slight changes in the patterns can be helpful for identification. The picture shows a Painted Lady butterfly.

picture of a Queen butterfly
Queen butterflies make their way to Utah via the east and south. Related to the Monarch butterfly, they have their own distinct color and pattern on the top of the wings.

picture of a side view of a Leanira Checkerspot
Multiple habitats means that fritillary, crescents, checkerspots and wood nymphs also abound in the state. The picture show a side view of a Leanira Checkerspot.

Many of these brush foot 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 brush foot butterflies inhabit many areas of the Utah mountains. A few can also be found in wooded areas at lower elevations.

Contrary to the orange wing color rule of thumb, most of these butterflies have shades of brown in their wings. Often the eye spot patterns provide good identification clues.

Brush footed
American Snout
Gulf Fritillary
Variegated Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Aphrodite Fritillary
Nokomis Fritillary
Edwards’ Fritillary
Coronis Fritillary
Zerene Fritillary
Callippe Fritillary
Great Basin Fritillary
Northwestern Fritillary
Hydaspe Fritillary
Mormon Fritillary
Silver-bordered Fritillary
Relict Fritillary
Freija Fritillary
Arctic Fritillary
Weidemeyer’s Admiral
Arizona Sister
Hackberry Emperor
Dotted Checkerspot
Arachne Checkerspot
Fulvia Checkerspot
Leanira Checkerspot
Gorgone Checkerspot
California Patch
Bordered Patch
Rockslide Checkerspot
Sagebrush Checkerspot
Northern Checkerspot
Painted Crescent
Pale Crescent
Mylitta Crescent
Pearl Crescent
Northern Crescent
Tawny Crescent
Field Crescent
Texan Crescent
Brush footed
Edith’s Checkerspot
Chalcedon Checkerspot
Anicia Checkerspot
Common Buckeye
Tropical Buckeye
White Peacock
Question Mark
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
Common Ringlet
Canyonland Satyr
Magdalena Alpine
Common Alpine
Colorado Alpine
Ridings’ Satyr
Wyoming Satyr
Jutta Arctic
Melissa Arctic
White-veined Arctic
Chryxus Arctic
Uhler’s Arctic
Common Wood-Nymph
Mead’s Wood-Nymph
Great Basin Wood-Nymph
Small Wood-Nymph

Utah Butterflies: Metalmarks

picture of a Mormon Metalmark, Utah butterflies
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