Virginia Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

side view of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, state butterfly of Virginia

Thanks for visiting the Virginia butterflies section.

The picture at the top of the page shows the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, the official state butterfly of Virginia. While the state hosts a variety of butterfly species, twenty one of those species are considered rare and seen in only one or two counties.

This introduction to Virginia butterflies divides the species according to families, which also mostly divides them according to wing color.

Only a few butterfly pictures are presented because of space. Visitors interested in additional butterfly pictures and identification help are invited to press the green butterflies button.

Brush Footed Butterflies

picture of a Northern Pearly-eye butterfly
The forested areas of Virginia host many butterfly species, included Wood Nymphs and Satyrs.

The picture shows a Northern Pearly-eye. Like the other species in the category, they are characterized by brown wings and eye-spots. Most of the species have a fairly wide distribution in the state.

Virginia gardens and residential areas also host many of the typical Brush Footed species listed below. These would be the typical orange wing butterflies such as the fritillaries, crescents, commas and ladies.

In the southern part of the state the Virginia Living Museum hosts a butterfly garden has a collection of about sixty flowers, vines, shrubs and trees that serve as hosts for the caterpillars. Butterflies can be seen there throughout the entire season.

Creating a butterfly garden in the back yard is as easy as learning about the native plants that support the native breeding butterflies.

Brush footed
American Snout
Gulf Fritillary
Variegated Fritillary
Diana 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
Ruddy Daggerwing
Hackberry Emperor
Tawny Emperor
Silvery Checkerspot
Harris’ Checkerspot
Phaon Crescent
Pearl Crescent
Northern Crescent
Tawny Crescent
Brush footed
Baltimore Checkerspot
Common Buckeye
White Peacock
Question Mark
Eastern Comma
Green Comma
Gray Comma
Compton Tortoiseshell
Mourning Cloak
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
American Lady
Goatweed Leafwing
Southern Pearly-eye
Northern Pearly-eye
Creole Pearly-eye
Appalachian Brown
Gemmed Satyr
Georgia Satyr
Little Wood-Satyr
Carolina Satyr
Common Wood-Nymph

Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of a Zebra Swallowtail butterfly
The Zebra Swallowtail stands out among the Virginia swallowtail butterfly population. Unfortunately their range is limited to areas that grow pawpaw trees, the larval plant host.
  • Pipevine Swallowtail
  • Zebra Swallowtail
  • Black Swallowtail
  • Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  • Spicebush Swallowtail
  • Palamedes Swallowtail
  • Giant Swallowtail

Butterflies: Metalmarks

It also should be noted that Virginia hosts two metalmark species, the Little Metalmark and the Northern Metalmark.

Butterflies: Whites and Yellows

picture of a Sleepy Orange butterfly
Pieridae is the formal name of the family that consists of the butterflies with white wings and yellow wings. Virginia follows a pattern similar to other Southern states, hosting more yellow butterfly species.

The picture shows a Sleepy Orange butterfly. The name refers to the fact that the top of the wing has a dash rather than a circular spot common on many yellow butterfly species. The dash kinda reminds people of a closed or sleepy eye. Here’s a list of the rest of the white butterflies and yellow butterflies documented in the state.

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

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of a King's Hairstreak
Virginia’s hairstreak population is the most diverse group of butterflies in the gossamer wing butterfly family.

The picture shows a King’s Hairstreak.

Cassius Blue
Eastern Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Summer Azure
Dusky Azure
Appalachian Azure
Holly Azure
Silvery Blue
Great Purple Hairstreak
Hessel’s Hairstreak
Juniper Hairstreak
Olive’ Juniper Hairstreak
Brown Elfin
Hoary Elfin
Frosted Elfin
Henry’s Elfin
Eastern Pine Elfin
Oak Hairstreak
Northern’ Southern Hairstreak
Coral Hairstreak
Hickory Hairstreak
Edwards’ Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
King’s Hairstreak
Striped Hairstreak
Red-banded Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
White-M Hairstreak
Early Hairstreak
American Copper
Bronze Copper