West Virginia Butterflies: Pictures and Butterfly Identification Help

picture of a Monarch Butterfly the state butterfly of West Virginia

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

picture of an Orange Sulphur butterfly
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.

picture of a West Virginia White butterfly, Credit: aecole2010 flickr
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.

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

Blues, Hairtreaks and Coppers

picture of a Tailed-Blue butterfly
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.

picture of a White Hairstreak
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.

Eastern Tailed-Blue
Spring Azure
Summer Azure
Dusky Azure
Appalachian Azure
Silvery Blue
Great Purple HairstreakJuniper Hairstreak
Brown Elfin
Hoary Elfin
Frosted Elfin
Henry’s Elfin
Eastern Pine Elfin
Oak Hairstreak
Coral Hairstreak
Hickory Hairstreak
Edwards’ Hairstreak
Banded Hairstreak
Striped Hairstreak
Red-banded Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
White-M Hairstreak
Early Hairstreak
American Copper
Bronze Copper
Bog Copper

Brush Footed Butterflies

picture of a Mourning Cloak buterfly
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.

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
Hackberry Emperor
Tawny Emperor
Silvery Checkerspot
Gorgone Checkerspot
Harris’ Checkerspot
Pearl Crescent
Northern Crescent
Tawny Crescent
Brush footed
Baltimore Checkerspot
Common Buckeye
Question Mark
Eastern Comma
Green Comma
Gray Comma
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell
Compton Tortoiseshell
Mourning Cloak
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
American Lady
Northern Pearly-eye
Appalachian Brown
Common Ringlet
Gemmed Satyr
Little Wood-Satyr
Carolina Satyr
Common Wood-Nymph

West Virginia Butterflies: Swallowtails

picture of a Palmedes Swallowtail butterfly: credit bill chitty flickr
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

Butterflies: Metalmarks

A final note: West Virginia hosts one metalmark species, the Northern Metalmark.