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Top 10 Beautiful Butterflies of the USA

While I have a great appreciation for man-made wonders, nothing comes close to the beauty of the natural world.

Butterflies are the most beautiful creatures in the world.

Butterflies are the most beautiful creatures in the world.

Bright Colourful Fluttering Fairies

The sight of a butterfly gives pleasure to everyone. It is an exciting moment to watch a colourful creature that flutters around flowers. Their exquisite colour combination makes it an even more thrilling visual experience. But such moments are short-lived, and so are these creatures.

Strange enough, caterpillars may be considered harmful as they eat parts of the plants, but adult butterflies are considered important as their visits to flowers result in cross-pollination. Many of the species migrate during harsh weather conditions.

The USA has its fair share of about 750 species of butterflies out of nearly 17,500 species globally.

This article will showcase the top 10 beautiful butterflies of the USA, many of which are designated as State Butterfly/Insect by the various US States.

#1. Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch Butterfly is the State Insect of Alabama State. This 'nearly threatened' butterfly is one of the largest and the best known in the Northern Hemisphere. It is also known as a wanderer because it migrates up to 2,500 miles southward during seasonal changes and returns northward in summer.

It is known as a milkweed butterfly as its caterpillar starts life by eating milkweed. But nectar and fruit liquid are the common feed for the adult, which is sucked from flowers or fruit. They have tawny-orange colour on the upper side of their wings and beautifully arranged black veins and margins with two series of white spots. The male monarch butterflies can be identified by the black spot on the hind wings over a vein on either side.

#2. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly has acquired its name because of its black tiger stripes on each yellow fore wing of the male. They are familiar in the eastern parts of the United States.

The outer edges of the fore wings are black, bearing a row of yellow spots. However, females are found in two forms: yellow like the males and black with shadows of dark stripes.

You can find these caterpillars on plants like cherry, tulip trees, cottonwood, and willow. Nectar of flowers like wild cherry and milkweed are typical adults' food. Males are seen puddling.

It is the State Butterfly of North Carolina.

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#3. Zebra Longwing Butterfly

Their name is based on their striped pattern like Zebras, long black wings but narrow with thin yellow bands, and each one has a distinctive pattern. These butterflies are mainly found in southern parts of the United States but also in central and north-south parts.

The caterpillars have a passion for eating passion flowers. They taste unpleasant and are poisonous due to the intake of toxins from passion flowers. However, the adult butterflies enjoy the nectar, though pollen, and typically have a longer lifespan.

The Zebra Longwing Butterfly has been the state butterfly of Florida since 1996.

#4. Queen Butterfly

The Queen Butterfly is one of the most colourful butterflies in North and South America. Peculiar black wing borders on orange or brown wings clubbed with two rows of white fore wing spots make it a popular butterfly.

Queen Butterfly hatch on milkweed, and the caterpillars are black in colour with yellow spots and transverse white stripes. The caterpillars feed on milkweeds which have distasteful substances serving as deterrents for some predators. The adult butterflies consume nectar from flowers.

#5. Mourning Cloak Butterfly

The very dark red or purple-black upper side of this beautiful butterfly of woodlands has a bright yellowish border around the wings. Also, there is a row of blue spots along the inner edge of the border. This large butterfly is primarily found in Eurasia and North America, though known as the Camberwell Beauty in Britain.

The host plant for laying eggs in North America is generally black willow and some other varieties of willows. The preferred food is tree sap of oaks and rotting fruit. Sometimes they taste flower nectar also. They are powerful fliers and tend to migrate.

It has been a State Butterfly of Montana since 2001.

#6. American Lady Butterfly

This butterfly has deep orange and black spotted wings with white spots on the outer wings. Its distinguishing feature is two large hind wing eye spots on the ventral side.

The favourite food of caterpillars of American Painted Lady Butterfly is thistle.

#7. Red Spotted Purple or White Admiral Butterfly

Designated in 2008, the State Butterfly of New York is unique in having two different forms. Notable features of the beautiful Red-spotted Purple forest butterfly are red spots on the undersides and also on top of the wings. The upper side is blue to blue-green. White Admirals have a blackish-blue upper side with white median bands on both wings.

Caterpillars prefer leaves of trees and shrubs like cottonwood, oaks, willows, black cherries, and birche. The adults like tree sap, rotten fruit, dung, mud puddles, and also sometimes nectar.

It is common in many eastern parts of the United States.

#8. Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly

It is quite easy to identify this butterfly because of the thin hairline tail protruding at each hind wing. Its beautiful colour also marks its distinction from others. It is also interesting to see this butterfly's upper and undersides. The upper side has dark purple wings and a broad border which is usually black. The lower outer parts of the wings have orange spots at each wing. But the colour of the lower side of the wings is quite different, ranging from pale gray to dark gray.

Gambel oak is the host for these beautiful butterflies, including its caterpillars. Adults have their diet in tree sap, honeydew, and raindrops.

It is commonly found in Colorado and many of the southwest parts of the United States. It was declared as State Insect of Colorado in 1996.

#9. Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly

The body of this lovely butterfly is dark brown, and the wings are black-bordered with orange, having white and orange spots. Knobs on its antennae are quite prominent.

Caterpillars feed on White Turtlehead mainly, and the adults like nectar from flowers like milkweed and wild rose. It ranges from Canada to the eastern United States.

It has been the State insect of Maryland since 1973.

#10. Great Spangled Fritillary

Great Spangled Fritillary has orange-coloured fore wings and hind wings with dark black spots. Females have a darker colour than males. There are silver spots on the underside, and the broad yellow band with silver triangles on the wings is another distinguishing characteristic of this beautiful butterfly.

They cover a wide range in North America and are found in moist areas in fields, woods, and meadows. Caterpillars eat leaves of violets plants, but the adults prefer nectar from flowers of thistles, purple coneflowers, and red clover.


Sukhdev Shukla (author) from Dehra Dun, India on October 24, 2013:

sallybea, butterflies are really wonderful creations. There is so much of variety and so much to learn about them. Thanks for visiting and liking some of these. Have a nice day!

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on October 24, 2013:

Stunning butterflies and some beautiful images. Always lovely to learn more about the beautiful butterflies of the world. Thanks for sharing.

Sukhdev Shukla (author) from Dehra Dun, India on October 14, 2013:

Thelma, Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you have seen some of the butterflies. These are really very beautiful. Thanks for the support also. Have a nice time!

Thelma Alberts from Germany on October 14, 2013:

Beautiful photos! I have seen some of those butterflies in my home country. Thanks for sharing the information. Great hub! Voted up and useful.

Sukhdev Shukla (author) from Dehra Dun, India on October 09, 2013:

AliciaC, these little and beautifully coloured creatures remind us that we need to learn more and more about them. Thanks for visiting. Have a nice day.

Sukhdev Shukla (author) from Dehra Dun, India on October 09, 2013:

Mike Robbers, the colours and shapes of butterflies really make us ponder about the power of the Creator. Thanks for stopping by and voting/pinning.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 09, 2013:

The butterfly photos are beautiful! I enjoyed learning about the butterflies, too.

Mike Robbers from London on October 09, 2013:

Wonderful butterflies, colors and photos! Voted and pinned!

Sukhdev Shukla (author) from Dehra Dun, India on August 11, 2013:

myefforts, thanks for visiting. It is encouraging to know that you found it interesting. Have a nice time!

Asif from Lahore on August 10, 2013:

Good work sir... really interesting!

Sukhdev Shukla (author) from Dehra Dun, India on July 08, 2013:

ladydeonne, I am glad you came across butterfly of your state. These are really beautiful creatures. I am also glad that you find some useful information from my Hubs. Have a nice time!

Elias Zanetti, Your voting and pinning is my motivation. Thanks for visiting and liking the photographs. Have a nice day!

Elias Zanetti from Athens, Greece on July 08, 2013:

Beautiful hub and photography. Voted and pinned!

Deonne Anderson from Florence, SC on July 07, 2013:

I love butterflies! For me they are symbols for hope and positive change. I have never seen most of these butterflies. I was led to find out the butterfly for my adopted state of VA. It is the tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus Linnaeus). I have never to my knowledge seen one but plan to be on the look out for it. I always see and learn new things from your hubs. Thanks for sharing.

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