13 Popular Butterflies in Minnesota (With Pictures)

Butterflies in Minnesota
Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Pexels

It should come as no surprise that a state renowned for its stunning forests and lakes also harbors a diverse population of butterflies.

Although there are many different species of butterflies in Minnesota, we have highlighted some in our blog post. 

Surprisingly, some of these butterflies in Minnesota also consume items like excrement and carrion in addition to pollinating flowers.

Who would have thought something so lovely would consume something so disgusting? Let’s dive into these wonderful butterflies in Minnesota! 

1. Red Spotted Purple

Red-Spotted Purple
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The red-spotted purple is first on our list of butterflies in Minnesota.

Due to its fondness for tree sap, the Red Spotted Purple Butterfly is considered more of a woodland butterfly, yet it can also be seen frequently in gardens with nectar-producing flowers.

These butterflies in Minnesota may breed and produce live young with the White Admiral butterfly and are widespread throughout the eastern US, including Minnesota.

The roughly 3-inch-long Red Spotted Purple is renowned for its colorful impersonation of the dangerous Pipevine Swallowtail.

Thanks to their evolved defenses, they are now less vulnerable to being devoured by predators.

2. White Admiral

White Admiral - Butterflies in Maine
by Dakiny is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Red Spotted Purple and White Admiral can successfully reproduce together and produce offspring because of their close resemblances.

The Red Spotted Purple’s imitation of the Pipevine Swallowtail distinguishes it from the other species.

The Red Spotted Purple is a deep purple with blue near its tail, whereas the White Admiral is primarily black with white bars on its wings.

3. Viceroy

by atlnature is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Compared to most other butterflies in Minnesota, this one is a fascinating butterfly with several unique traits.

One is that they consume both nectar and excrement in addition to fungus.

One of the butterflies in Minnesota that do not migrate, and those who do only fly briefly, is the viceroy.

This is due to how they fly, which differs from other butterflies in that they glide rather than float.

This butterfly will only fly for brief periods of time since it cannot float. They are usually likely to be found in wetland regions, especially those near rivers and streams.

4. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail - Types of Butterflies in Vermont
by Kumweni is licensed under CC BY 2.0

These butterflies can be found in Minnesota, the majority of the eastern United States, sections of northern Mexico, and southern Canada, as their name would imply.

Tiger Easter Male swallowtails are all-yellow with black tiger stripes, while females are similarly colored but have blue at the base of their tails. Swallowtails are sexually dimorphic.

Males are hesitant to breed with these dark females, yet they can also appear similar to the Pipevine Swallowtail.

As adults, these butterflies in Minnesota mostly eat flower nectar, so milkweed and butterfly bushes are excellent choices to draw them to your yard.

5. Spring Azure

Spring Azure
by jackanapes is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Spring Azure butterflies are widely distributed throughout Minnesota, the Midwest, and the East Coast (however, for the sake of education, they are also included in the southwest and west zones).

The Blue Azure Butterfly can be found in fields, woodlands, gardens, and bushy regions.

You’ll notice that these butterflies in Minnesota emerge earlier than the majority, right after the winter season.

You will notice the Blue Azure before most tree buds have fully opened.

It’s also crucial to remember that the flowering dogwood plant serves as a host plant for spring azure caterpillar butterflies.

It can also live on blackberry and New Jersey tea trees, among other types of plants.

6. Common Buckeye

Common Buckeye
by MotleyOklahoman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Common Buckeye is primarily brown with orange bars and is named for the stunning black eyespots on the tops of its wings.

This common but reserved butterfly can be seen all over Minnesota and southern Canada. 

You must either sit and wait for them in your garden or approach them gently if you want to watch this anxious species.

Any nectar-producing flower can draw these butterflies in Minnesota to your yard because they are nectar eaters, but Butterfly Bush and Zinnia are two of their favorites.

7. Zebra Swallowtail

Zebra Swallowtail
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Zebra Swallowtail can be found in the Eastern United States, including some areas of Minnesota.

Its remarkable color and design are how this butterfly got its name. Its wings are mostly white with zebra-like patterns.

Females of these butterflies in Minnesota place their individual eggs on the underside of the leaves of the pawpaw plant, which serves as their host.

Adults consume nectar from various plants, with milkweed being the most prevalent.

8. Regal Fritillary

Regal Fritillary
by Wildreturn is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The population of the Regal Fritillary, once widespread across the majority of the US, has been steadily diminishing.

Its range includes tiny portions of the Northeast, the Midwest, and Minnesota.

With a strong orange color on the top of its wings and a bright blue color on the bottom, these butterflies in Minnesota are undoubtedly the most attractive of the fritillary family.

When their preferred host, the violet, is not there, females will still lay their eggs in grasses even though they are regularly seen wandering on the ground.

Measures are being taken to protect the Regal Fritillary and the nectar blooms it consumes.

9. Mourning Cloak

Mourning Cloak
by Aah-Yeah is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Mourning Cloak butterfly is among the most durable species found in the Americas.

This species, which has a lifespan of 10 to 11 months, frequently hibernates through winter in northern regions like Minnesota.

They have purplish-black wings with a lovely orange border, earning their name from how they are colored, which recalls a traditional cloak worn during times of sorrow.

These butterflies in Minnesota hatch their eggs in several types of willow trees and primarily eat tree sap. However, they will also eat decaying fruit and nectar from flowers.

10. Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtail
by Pets4Dawn is licensed under CC BY 2.0

In North America, the Giant Swallowtail is the biggest butterfly. Widely spread over the US, including certain areas of Minnesota.

These butterflies are not particular about their host plants and will lay their eggs on citrus, lime, and Hercules clubs.

Although they have some blue and red patterns, adults are primarily black and yellow. They prefer Zinnia, Milkweed, and Butterfly Bush as nectar sources.

11. Monarch

Monarchs - Types of Butterflies in Utah
by Debbie_Long is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Monarch, America’s Sweetheart of Butterflies, must be on any list of butterflies.

Every year, Minnesota’s magnificent orange and black butterflies travel thousands of kilometers from their native region to Mexico, where they give birth and ultimately perish.

In the spring, their eggs hatch, and somehow, the young know where to migrate back home.

One of the most prevalent butterflies in Minnesota, monarchs may be seen all around the state during the summer. 

You must plant native milkweed in your garden if you want to draw monarch butterflies to it.

The caterpillars will consume the plant, while the adults will eat the blooms and lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves. 

It should be highlighted that the monarch butterfly faces extinction because of predators and people.

More particularly, pesticides and herbicides used in yards and gardens kill this variety of butterflies.

In addition, the Monarch Butterfly is regarded as one of the top pollinators in the US.

They are drawn to bee balm, butterfly bushes, and virtually all perennial flowers in the summer and fall.

12. Green Comma

Green Comma 
by Don Henise is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The green comma is next on our list of butterflies in Minnesota. There are isolated populations of this tiny 1.5–2-inch butterfly throughout the north.

The Northwest is where they are most common, but they are also found in the Northeast and a little area between those two, which includes Minnesota and Michigan.

These butterflies in Minnesota can have a wide range of hues, from dusty orange to brown, and their wings typically have ragged-looking edges.

They get their name from a white mark resembling a comma on their wings’ underside. Nectar, dung, and carrion are all known food sources for these butterflies.

13. American Lady

American Lady
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

American lady is ending our list of butterflies in Minnesota. Most of North America, from Southern Canada to South America, is home to the American Lady butterfly. 

In contrast to several other species, the American Lady butterfly is not cold tolerant; thus, they move away from colder climates in places like Minnesota during the fall and winter.

Easily attracted to your butterfly garden with Milkweed, this butterfly consumes nectar-producing plants, decomposing fruit, and tree sap.


Minnesota is home to hundreds of butterfly species. Many species of butterflies that can survive the cold temperatures in Minnesota travel through or reside in the state.

Enjoy your adventure trip about these beautiful butterflies in Minnesota.

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