14 Types of Butterflies in Utah (With Pictures)

Types of Butterflies in Utah
Photo by Hannah McBride on Unsplash

Welcome to the amazing world of butterflies in Utah! From the vibrantly painted ladies to the majestic monarchs, these delicate creatures bring joy and beauty to our state.

With over 150 species of butterflies in Utah, the possibilities of discovering different kinds of colorful butterflies are endless. 

In this blog post, we will explore some of Utah’s most common types of butterflies, their habitats, and the best spots for viewing them.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or just looking for something to do on the weekend, this post will surely provide great insight into the wonderful world of butterflies in Utah.

1. Painted ladies

Painted ladies
by Monkeystyle3000 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of the most common butterflies you’ll spot in Utah is the painted lady butterfly.

They are known for their orange, black, and white spotted wings that make them easily recognizable.

These butterflies are often seen in large numbers as they migrate through the state during the spring and fall seasons.

Painted lady butterflies are a hardy species that can survive in various environments, from gardens to fields and even deserts.

They are also known to feed on many plants, making them important pollinators in Utah’s ecosystems.

These beautiful butterflies in Utah are a favorite among nature enthusiasts and amateur photographers, making them a popular sight for locals and tourists alike.

2. Monarchs

by Debbie_Long is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Their bright orange and black wings easily recognize monarchs.

These butterflies in Utah are known for their annual migration, which can cover thousands of miles.

Monarchs can be found throughout Utah during their breeding season, which typically runs from April to October. During this time, monarchs fluttered through gardens, fields, and forests.

One of the most fascinating aspects of monarchs is their incredible journey.

Monarchs from across the western United States migrate south to California each fall, where they spend the winter in coastal eucalyptus trees.

Then, in the spring, the butterflies fly north to breed and lay eggs, and the cycle starts again.

The monarch migration is one of nature’s most awe-inspiring events, and Utahans are lucky to have the opportunity to witness it firsthand.

3. American Lady

American Lady
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The American lady butterfly is commonly found in Utah during the summer months.

This beautiful butterfly is easily identifiable thanks to its distinctive wings, which feature orange, brown, black, and white.

The wingspan of an American lady ranges between 1.75 to 2.5 inches, making them a smaller butterfly species than other types found in the region. 

One interesting fact about American lady butterflies is that they are known to migrate, similar to the more famous monarch butterflies.

American ladies can be found in the southern parts of the United States and Mexico during winter before returning to Utah in the summer.

These butterflies typically feed on nectar from flowers, with the Rocky Mountain bee plant being a favorite food source.

You can easily spot these butterflies fluttering around open fields, meadows, and gardens in Utah, making for a delightful addition to any outdoor excursion.

4. Viceroy

by btrentler is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another type of butterfly you might spot in Utah is the Viceroy. This butterfly has a unique appearance that closely resembles the Monarch butterfly, with its orange and black coloring and delicate wings.

However, one way to distinguish a Viceroy from a Monarch is by looking at the black vein across its hindwings.

Viceroys have a distinctive thick black vein, while Monarchs have a thinner, more broken vein. 

Viceroys can often be found near water sources such as streams or ponds. They are also known to be quite active in the late summer months, often congregating in large numbers.

Interestingly, the Viceroy butterfly has a defense mechanism that helps protect it from predators. Its bright coloring mimics that of the Monarch, a poisonous butterfly toxic to most predators.

However, viceroys are not toxic but benefit from their mimicry’s protection. Overall, the Viceroy butterfly is a fascinating and beautiful species to observe in the wild.

5. Mourning Cloak

Mourning Cloak butterfly
by ikewinski is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Utah has diverse butterfly species, each with unique characteristics and behaviors. One of the most common and easily recognizable butterflies in Utah is the Painted Lady.

These delicate creatures feature bright orange and black wings with white spots and can often be seen fluttering through gardens and meadows in search of nectar.

No matter which butterfly species you encounter in Utah, their beauty and grace will leave you in awe.

These incredible insects play an important role in our ecosystem, pollinating plants and serving as a crucial food source for other animals.

We can help ensure they thrive in our natural world for generations by appreciating and protecting them.

6. Hackberry Emperor

Hackberry Emperor
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Hackberry Emperor butterfly is a fascinating insect species that can be found in the state of Utah.

These butterflies in Utah are easily recognizable by their wings, which are brown with white spots and lines. They are also known for their large size, with 2.5 to 4 inches wingspans. 

One of the most interesting things about the Hackberry emperors is their unique way of laying their eggs.

Unlike other butterfly species that lay their eggs on specific plants, the Hackberry Emperor lays their eggs on the underside of hackberry tree leaves.

Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the leaves of the hackberry tree until they are ready to pupate and transform into adult butterflies.

This makes the hackberry tree a vital part of the Hackberry Emperor’s lifecycle. 

The Hackberry Emperor is a fairly elusive butterfly species despite their impressive size.

They are known for spending much time perched on tree trunks and branches, blending well with their surroundings.

If you spot a Hackberry Emperor in the wild, consider yourself lucky! These butterflies are not as commonly seen as other species, but they are beautiful.

7. Silver-Bordered Fritillary

Silver-Bordered Fritillary
by wackybadger is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Silver-Bordered Fritillary is a unique and beautiful butterfly species that can be found in Utah.

Its wingspan ranges from 1.75 to 2.5 inches and is distinguished by the orange spots on its dark wings, surrounded by a silver border.

This species is known for its preference for open grasslands, where it feeds on flowers such as the thistle, asters, and daisies.

One of the unique features of the Silver-Bordered Fritillary is its life cycle. After the eggs are laid, the caterpillar hatches and overwinters in a hibernaculum (a leaf-constructed shelter) protected from the harsh winter weather.

In the spring, the caterpillar emerges and feeds on grasses, preparing to pupate and emerge as an adult butterfly in the summer.

This unique adaptation helps the Silver-Bordered Fritillary survive in the harsh Utah climate.

The Silver-Bordered Fritillary is a stunning and fascinating butterfly species that add to the diversity of Utah’s butterfly population.

Its silver-bordered wings and unique life cycle make it a must-see for any butterfly enthusiast.

8. Aphrodite Fritillary

Aphrodite Fritillary
by Lydia Fravel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Aphrodite Fritillary butterfly is a stunning species in Utah’s higher elevations. It is commonly found in mountain meadows, where it feeds on various species of violets.

The butterfly’s wings have a unique pattern of black and white markings, with bright orange and red spots near the edges.

One of the unique features of the Aphrodite Fritillary is the behavior of its larvae.

After hatching from their eggs, the larvae feed on the flowers and leaves of the violets, then construct a leaf shelter where they rest and continue to grow.

As they mature, they will create a pupa that will eventually transform into the adult butterfly we see flying gracefully through the mountain meadows.

Watch for this beautiful butterfly species next time you hike in the Utah mountains!

9. Great Spangled Fritillary

Great Spangled Fritillary
by jcantroot is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Great Spangled Fritillary is one of the butterflies in Utah from mid-June to August.

These beautiful butterflies are recognizable for their large size and unique wing patterns, which feature orange and brown patches and spots on a black background.

They are often found in meadows and fields, feeding on the nectar of flowers like milkweed and thistle.

The Great Spangled Fritillary is also notable for its role as a host plant for other insects.

Their eggs are a preferred food source for parasitic wasps, and birds like the American goldfinch and the cedar waxwing eat their caterpillars.

Despite this, their population remains relatively stable in Utah and other areas where they can be found.

Overall, the Great Spangled Fritillary is a beautiful and important part of Utah’s diverse butterfly ecosystem.

10. Variegated Fritillary

Variegated Fritillary
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another species of butterfly commonly found in Utah is the Variegated Fritillary. This beautiful orange and brown butterfly is easy to spot thanks to its distinct wing patterns.

The Variegated Fritillary is typically found in fields, meadows, and gardens, where it feeds on the nectar of flowers like milkweeds and thistles.

Interestingly, the Variegated Fritillary is known to be migratory, meaning it travels long distances in search of suitable breeding grounds. 

One unique characteristic of the Variegated Fritillary is that it lays its eggs on the underside of leaves.

After the eggs hatch, the caterpillars feed on the leaves of host plants like violets, asters, and passionflowers.

These plants provide the necessary nutrients for the caterpillars to develop into fully-grown butterflies.

With its striking colors and interesting migration patterns, the Variegated Fritillary is a fascinating species to observe in the wild.

11. Common Wood-Nymph

Common Wood-Nymph
by Lydia Fravel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Common Wood-Nymph butterfly is one of the most fascinating species that you can find in Utah.

These beautiful butterflies in Utah can be identified by their brown wings that feature an orange spot at the tip of each forewing.

They also have white patches on their hindwings and a distinctive eye-like marking on the underside of their wings.

The Common Wood-Nymph butterfly is found in open forests and meadows throughout Utah.

They are most commonly seen in the summer and can often be spotted fluttering near the edges of fields or flowers.

This butterfly species is particularly attracted to milkweed, goldenrod, and thistles, which makes them an important pollinator for these plants.

The next time you stroll in nature, watch for the Common Wood-Nymph butterfly and be sure to appreciate the beauty and importance of this wonderful insect.

12. Azure

Summer Azure
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another type of butterfly you might spot in Utah is the Azure butterfly. Utah’s small, bright blue butterflies are typically found in meadows and open fields, often near water sources.

They tend to fly close to the ground and can be difficult to spot due to their size, but their vibrant blue color makes them stand out when they do appear.

One interesting fact about the Azure butterfly is its symbiotic relationship with ants.

The butterfly larvae secrete a sweet liquid that attracts ants, which then protect the larvae from predators and parasites.

Once the larvae mature into butterflies, they secrete the liquid to maintain the relationship with the ants.

Watch for these beautiful blue butterflies next time you explore Utah’s meadows and fields!

13. Gray Hairstreak

Gray Hairstreak
by Wildreturn is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Gray Hairstreak is a beautiful butterfly found in Utah during summer.

It is easily recognizable by the gray coloration on its wings and its small size, making it a bit harder to spot than some of the larger and more vibrant butterflies in the state.

However, it is worth looking closely if you’re lucky enough to spot one. 

Despite its small size, the Gray Hairstreak is a strong flier and can often be seen flitting about in open areas such as fields, meadows, and gardens.

Its diet consists mainly of flower nectar, but it occasionally feeds on other liquids, such as tree sap.

Interestingly, the Gray Hairstreak is known for its behavior of rubbing its wings together, which is thought to help dislodge parasites.

This is one of Utah’s most delicate and lovely butterflies and is a delightful addition to Utah’s natural world.

14. Coral Hairstreak

Coral Hairstreak - Types of Butterflies in Utah
by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of the more elusive butterflies in Utah is the Coral Hairstreak. As its name suggests, this butterfly has beautiful coral-colored markings on its wings.

However, spotting this butterfly is often difficult because it tends to fly close to the ground and blend in with its surroundings.

The Coral Hairstreak can be found in areas with mixed woodlands and grassy meadows, making it home in places like the Uinta Mountains and the Wasatch Range.

Its favorite food sources include nectar from flowers like yarrow and clover. While this butterfly may not be the easiest to spot, it’s worth watching.

The Coral Hairstreak is a fascinating part of Utah’s diverse butterfly population and adds a beautiful touch to the natural landscapes it calls home.


There are beautiful and diverse butterflies in Utah. From the vibrant Painted Lady to the majestic Monarch, Utah’s butterfly population is full of color and fascinating life.

Discover the wonderful world of butterflies in Utah and their unique features and habitats.

With a little luck and patience, you might catch a glimpse of one of these lovely creatures in the wild!

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