Welcome to West Virginia butterflies. The Mountain State documents about 135 butterfly species and about 2,000 moth species.
The Monarch butterfly pictured at the top of the page is the official state butterfly.
This introduction to West Virginia butterflies divides the species according to families and by extension wing color. The number of butterfly pictures is limited due to space. Visitors looking for additional butterfly pictures and identification help can press the green butterflies button.
Butterflies: Whites and Yellows
Orange Sulphurs are a very common species across the United States. Identifying them can be difficult. Usually the newly hatched species have orange on the upper wing. However, they do interbreed with Clouded Sulphurs, so that might not always be the case. Additionally, some females have a white form.
West Virginia is home to both the Clouded and Orange Sulphur, along with a nice diversity of other yellow winged butterflies. All except the Orange Sulphur has a limited regional distribution. The Dainty Sulphur is more of a southern species with an accidential presence in the state.
Of course, it would be great to photograph a West Virginia White in West Virginia. They are mostly woodland butterflies found along the East, especially in the Appalachian Mountain areas.
In West Virginia that means in the eastern part of the state.
Falcated Orangetips and Cabbage Whites are the most common white butterfly species across the state.
West Virginia White
Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers
West Virginia does have a fairly nice mix of the gossamer wing butterflies. In the blue butterflies category the Tailed-blue and Spring Azure range across the state. The other species have limited ranges, mostly in the mountains.
The picture shows an Eastern Tailed-blue.
While Hairstreak butterflies are the most numerous in terms of species numbers, most have a limited range. Any one place only supports a handful of species.
The White-M hairstreak in the picture can be found wherever oak grows in the state. It’s the host tree for the caterpillars.
Great Purple HairstreakJuniper Hairstreak
Eastern Pine Elfin
Brush Footed Butterflies
Many people think of brush footed butterflies as orange winged insects that fly around gardens and flowers. That’s partially accurate.
Fritillaries are one such group of the orange butterflies and they abound in the mountains. Residential areas see most of the species. The Great Spangled and Aphrodite are the most wide ranging in the state.
The Mourning Cloak butterfly in the picture is an exception to the orange butterfly rule. It does fly around residential areas, however those areas need to have trees such as willows, cottonwoods and elms because they are the host plants for the caterpillars.
The Wood Nymphs and Satyrs are another exception to the orange wings rule of thumb. They have brown wings. Most species have eye spots. The group in West Virginia are widely distributed.
Great Spangled Fritillary
arthemis White Admiral
Astyanax’ Red-spotted Purple
West Virginia Butterflies: Swallowtails
The Mountaineer State is also a great place for Swallowtail butterflies. The Canadian Tiger Swallowtail is a northern species and only found in the mountains. The Giant Swallowtail also has a limited range. Otherwise the remaining species are found flying pretty much all over the state.
- Pipevine Swallowtail
- Zebra Swallowtail
- Black Swallowtail
- Canadian Tiger Swallowtail
- Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail
- Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
- Spicebush Swallowtail
- Palamedes Swallowtail
- Giant Swallowtail
A final note: West Virginia hosts one metalmark species, the Northern Metalmark.