A great way to start exploring Indiana’s beautiful nature, whether you’re an experienced butterfly enthusiast or just looking to learn more about the incredible world around us, is by learning to identify the different types of butterflies native to your state.
Many butterflies can be found across the entire country and Canada, with some specific to certain regions or even certain parts of the state.
Here are five of the most commonly found types of butterflies in Indiana.
1. Red Admiral
The Red Admiral is the most common butterfly found in Indiana. These types of butterflies in Indiana are known for their bright colors, from red to orange and green.
These types of butterflies in Indiana are also known for their long bodies and wingspan, reaching up to two inches.
The butterflies go through four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Adults will often lay eggs on flowers closely related to the type of flower they would like their caterpillars to feed on once they hatch.
The female will lay her eggs on these flowers so that the larvae will have a food source when they first hatch out of their eggs. Eggs take one to two weeks to hatch, while larvae take three weeks before pupating.
2. Painted Lady
The Painted Lady is the most common butterfly found in Indiana. It is a bright orange with a tiny black speck on its hind wing. These types of butterflies in Indiana also have blue or brown spots on their wings.
The Painted Lady is generally seen from April to October, with the peak time being from May to September.
These types of butterflies in Indiana feed primarily on nectar from flowers but eat other things like tree sap and animal droppings when no flowers are available.
The Monarch butterfly is the most common type found in Indiana. These types of butterflies in Indiana are also one of the most popular because they are so colorful and easy to find.
Monarchs have a wingspan that ranges from 3-8 inches, with females being larger than males. Monarchs eat milkweed plants and lay their eggs on the leaves; these eggs turn into caterpillars that eat the leaves and become butterflies.
4. American Lady
The American Lady has two generations per year, with the first generation typically emerging around late May or early June.
These types of butterflies in Indiana are primarily found in urban areas with plenty of flowers to pollinate. The adults generally feed on nectar from wildflowers and garden plants.
Females lay eggs on the leaves and stems of milkweed plants, which serve as host plants for caterpillars.
Once they have hatched, the larvae will eat their eggshells and then begin to feed on the leaves until they pupate into a chrysalis during July or August.
The second generation emerges in September or October, feeding on nectar from fall-blooming plants like goldenrod and aster before mating and dying off for the season by November.
Rulers are one of the most common butterflies in Indiana, but did you know that it is a type of Monarch? The ruler’s wings are white with black and orange spots.
These types of butterflies in Indiana spend their time feeding on the nectar and leaves of plants.
When they’re not flying around trying to find food, they lay eggs on these same plants so that their caterpillars have something nutritious to eat when they hatch.
Painted ladies are another type of butterfly found in Indiana. Their bright orange and black wings make them easy to identify, but like the Viceroy, they also have a dark spot at the bottom corner of each wing.
6. Hackberry Emperor
The Hackberry Emperor is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan measuring between four and five inches. It has dark brown wings that are speckled with silver dots.
The wings are made up of many small overlapping scales to give them an iridescent sheen that can be seen from some distance away.
These types of butterflies in Indiana fly in large flocks and prefer to feed on hackberries, so it’s not uncommon to see them perched on the branches waiting for the fruit to ripen.
The Hackberry Emperor (Dryas Iulia) belongs to the Nymphalidae family. This family includes all butterflies with slender bodies and long, thin antennae and those with spots or blotches on their wings.
7. Red-Spotted Purple
One type of butterfly found in Indiana is the Red-Spotted Purple. These types of butterflies in Indiana are known as skippers because they are fast and agile, but not many people know about them.
These types of butterflies have wings about 3 inches long, and their wing coloration ranges from brown to black, with white dots on each wing.
These types of butterflies in Indiana feed on nectar from flowers, rotting fruit, and tree sap. The females lay eggs on the underside leaves, and the larvae will eat these leaves before pupating into a chrysalis.
One type of butterfly found in Indiana is the Red-Spotted Purple. These types of butterflies in Indiana are known as skippers because they are fast and agile, but not many people know about them.
8. White Admiral
White admirals are often mistaken for members of the Nymphalidae family, but they can be identified by the thin white stripe that runs along their bottom wings.
These types of butterflies in Indiana also have a long, thin extension at the end of their antennas. Though rare, they can find these butterflies in northern and central Indiana during summer.
White admirals typically fly about fifty yards above the ground and will land on flowers or trees to feed. These types of butterflies in Indiana typically flutter from flower to flower before settling down again.
9. Mourning Cloak
Mourning Cloak butterflies are one of the few butterflies in Indiana that hibernate as adults. These types of butterflies in Indiana are primarily found in the state’s southern portions and can be seen from March to October.
While they are typically brown, other types of butterflies in Indiana will have a red or yellow stripe on their wings, which is where they get their names.
10. Pearl Crescent
The Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos) is a species of butterfly from the family Pieridae. It is recognizable by its dark-colored wings with two light yellowish bands, two dark spots on the forewings, and a single spot on the hindwings.
The Pearl Crescents are found throughout Eastern North America and southern Canada, ranging as far west as Texas and Oklahoma.
These types of butterflies in Indiana are most common from June through October. During this time, they may be seen feeding on dandelions or other nectar-producing plants.
The larva has six rows of black spines arranged in alternating black and white stripes over a yellowish background coloration.
11. Question Mark
One of the most beautiful butterflies, the question mark, is a considerable butter giant. It has a wingspan that can measure up to six inches wide, making it a somewhat intimidating creature for any other insect to come across.
The question mark is primarily brown with white spots on its wings. It has long antennae, and an intricate crown covers its head.
In addition to being beautiful, the question mark is also very delicate and must be handled with care, so it does not break apart or get damaged in any way.
For this reason, the question mark’s habitat must be kept moist, and predators should not be allowed near it.
12. Variegated Fritillary
The Variegated Fritillary is a small butterfly with a wingspan reaching up to 3.2cm that thrives in low-lying shrubs, open fields, and meadows during the summer.
These types of butterflies in Indiana are found primarily in central North America but can be seen as far south as the Mexican border.
The eggs are laid singly on host plants and hatch after two weeks; they then go through five larval stages for 10-12 days before pupating for an additional 10-14 days. Adults live anywhere from 12 to 14 days on average.
Variegated Fritillaries are distinguished by their dark brown uppersides with silver or white markings that form checkered patterns.
13. Eastern Comma
The Eastern Comma butterfly is a small, black, white, and orange butterfly. It has a comma-shaped marking on its upper wings. The larvae feed on nectar, and the adults are often seen visiting flowers.
The Eastern Comma butterfly is also known as the Eyed Brown Butterfly or the Eyed-Brown Butterfly. These butterflies have brown eyespots that resemble those of members of the family Nymphalidae.
These types of butterflies in Indiana are found in woodlands and gardens throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa. Adults can be seen feeding on many different types of flowering plants.
14. Common Buckeye
The Common Buckeye is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan that ranges from 2.5 to 3.5 cm. Males are yellow or orange, and females are brown to tan with dark markings on the outer edges of the forewings.
These types of butterflies in Indiana can be found all around North America and have even been spotted as far south as Mexico.
The Common Buckeye eats nectar from flowers (including dandelions) and lays its eggs on plants that will produce seeds for food for the larvae when they hatch.
Females lay their eggs singly on leaves near the top of bushes, trees, or grasses. The larvae are green and resemble a caterpillar at first glance; they feed primarily on wild roses.
These types of butterflies in Indiana grow to about 4 cm long before spinning cocoons among leaf litter at ground level.
15. Meadow Fritillary
Meadow Fritillaries are the most common butterfly species in the U.S. These types of butterflies in Indiana are usually found on and around flowering plants, including dogbane, goldenrod, milkweed, thistle, vetch, witch hazel, and many others.
Meadow Fritillaries are large (1-inch wingspan), dark orange with black spots on their forewings, and brownish-orange with black spots on their hindwings.
This highly variable species can be challenging to identify without close examination or consulting an expert.
16. Aphrodite Fritillary
The Aphrodite Fritillary has a wingspan that can reach up to four inches. These types of butterflies in Indiana are a medium brown color with a distinctive orange-brown coloring on the underside of their wings.
These butterflies can be found worldwide but are most commonly spotted in North America and southern Europe.
The Aphrodite Fritillary is active in the morning, and late afternoon, so you may see them during your walk through your favorite park or neighborhood. Be sure to keep an eye out for these beautiful insects!
1) Butterfly House (eight sentences) The Butterfly House is one of Indianapolis’ most popular attractions and even offers education programs for local schools.
17. Great Spangled Fritillary
The Great Spangled Fritillary, one of the most spectacular butterflies, can be found in many habitats.
This is a large butterfly with a wingspan that can reach six inches and has an orange band on its forewings. The hindwings are yellow with black and brown bands and spots.
Females usually have a single row of orange dots along the outer edge of their hindwings, while males have two rows.
The Great Spangled Fritillary prefers moist habitats like marshes, bogs, wet meadows, woodland edges, and forest clearings. Males perch on vegetation,n while females lay eggs singly or clustered on host plants like thistles or milkweed species.
18. Silver-Bordered Fritillary
The Silver-Bordered Fritillary is a butterfly found primarily in the eastern United States. This butterfly has a wingspan of about two inches and typically flies close to the ground.
These types of butterflies in Indiana are usually brown with white spots on their wings. The Silver-Bordered Fritillary is also one of the most common butterflies to be seen in Indiana, so keep your eyes open for them!
19. Common Wood-Nymph
The common wood-nymph is one of the most commonly seen butterflies in Indiana. These little brown butterflies can be found on shrubs, bushes, and trees.
These types of butterflies in Indiana are widespread during the springtime because they are attracted to flowers that bloom then, such as lilacs, wildflowers, and blackberry vines. Their wingspan ranges from 1 1⁄4 to 2 1⁄2.
20. Little Wood Satyr
Little Wood Satyrs, like other satyr butterflies, spend most of their lives as caterpillars. Caterpillars are brown, but they don’t have any distinctive markings.
Instead, they have a small head with two short horns and six pairs of long, finger-like projections on the body. The adult Little Wood Satyr is orange with dark brown spots and light yellow dots on the wings.
Males are darker than females and can be distinguished by their antennae tapered at the end, while females’ antennas are rounded at the tip. Females also tend to be lighter in color than males, especially on the underside of their wings.
21. American Snout
The American Snout is the most common butterfly found in Indiana. However, they have a wide range of colors and can be found across the U.S.
These types of butterflies in Indiana are mostly seen on prairies and pastures. These types of butterflies in Indiana are much larger than others and can have a wingspan of up to 6 inches across.
These types of butterflies in Indiana feed on nectar from flowers and plants, which often causes them to fly close to the ground like other butterflies do when looking for food.
This elusive butterfly is one of the most beautiful and unusual species. Azure butterflies are named for the iridescent blue color on their wings, which often has gold or green overtones.
These types of butterflies in Indiana also have a row of orange-red spots running along their underside. Azure butterflies are so scarce that they are classified as endangered.
The only place these butterflies can be found is at the edges of woods, gardens, and meadows with moist soil. This creates a challenge for them to lay their eggs because they cannot do so on dry soil.
Luckily, this species is not threatened by predators because they spend much time flitting between flowers to find nectar sources instead of feeding on leaves like other butterfly species do.
23. Eastern Tailed-Blue
The Eastern Tailed-Blue is a small butterfly with a wingspan of about 1.5 inches. These types of butterflies in Indiana are one of the most familiar in the eastern U.S. and can be found anywhere from Maine to Florida.
These types of butterflies in Indiana are light blue with black borders and look a lot like the Western Tailed-Blue, but they have more spots on their forewings and tiny tails on their hindwings that can be seen up close.
These types of butterflies in Indiana are usually active during the day but come out at dusk to feed on nectar.
24. Gray Hairstreak
The Gray Hairstreak is a butterfly that does not fly as far south as other types. It can be found in the northern part of its range from Michigan to Maine and occasionally northward into Ontario and Quebec. It is also found around the Great Lakes region.
The Gray Hairstreak’s wingspan ranges from 45-55 mm, and its body can be either gray or brownish-gray. The underside will have one row of submarginal spots with a row of marginal spots on top.
These types of butterflies in Indiana fly from early June to September, during the afternoon hours when temperatures are between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
25. Coral Hairstreak
The Coral Hairstreak is a small butterfly that only lasts about two weeks. The males are slightly smaller than the females, and both have bright, beautiful colors on their wings.
These types of butterflies in Indiana fly low and close to the ground, making them hard to spot because they blend in with their surroundings.
In addition, they don’t like being disturbed, so it’s best not to touch or try and catch them.
26. Banded Hairstreak
The banded hairstreak is a type of butterfly with brown and white stripes. It can be found throughout the United States and Canada but prefers forests.
The banded hairstreak has an unusually long beak that allows it to feed on nectar from flowers, which is why it typically stays near forest edges, where there are plenty of flowers to feed.
These types of butterflies in Indiana also fly during the day, while other butterflies fly at night. This is probably due to its need for ultraviolet light to produce pigments.
27. American Copper
The American Copper is a common butterfly found throughout the Eastern United States. It is a medium-sized butterfly with orange and brown stripes on its wings and a bright copper color on its underside.
These types of butterflies in Indiana can be seen nectaring at flowers and feeding on tree sap, which makes them popular among gardeners.
These types of butterflies in Indiana are thought to have the longest larval stage out of all butterflies, but only for about six weeks as opposed to nine months like other species.
The American Copper is also one of the few butterflies that overwinter as adults instead of pupating first.
28. Black Swallowtail
The black swallowtail butterfly is one of the most common butterflies you will find in Indiana. These types of butterflies in Indiana are usually found in or near wooded areas, on the edges of fields, and near rivers.
This type of butterfly is often mistaken for a Monarch butterfly because they have similar features.
The black swallowtail has more intense colors than a Monarch, but it lacks the bright orange coloration found on the Monarch.
The black swallowtail ranges from 1-1/2 to 2 inches in wingspan and can be found throughout North America.
29. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a large butterfly with orange, black, and yellow markings on its wings. The adult’s wingspan can measure up to three inches across.
These types of butterflies in Indiana are primarily seen in the summertime, often hovering over flowers to feed on their nectar.
This butterfly is most common east of the Rocky Mountains from Canada to Florida. Eastern Tiger Swallows have about 2-3 weeks as adults.
Females will lay eggs after mating, but these eggs usually don’t hatch until the following spring or early summer months when it’s warm enough for caterpillars to grow and mature before pupating into butterflies and emerging from their cocoons.
30. Spicebush Swallowtail
The Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly can be found throughout the state but is most common in Southern Indiana.
These types of butterflies in Indiana are most active from late April through early October. Spicebush Swallowtails can be identified by their black-spotted wings and bright orange coloration.
It’s also one of the giant butterflies native to the United States, with a wingspan of up to 6 inches wide!
31. Cabbage White
Cabbage Whites are large, white butterflies with black spots on their wings. These types of butterflies in Indiana have a wingspan of about three inches and are active during the day.
Like other butterflies, they have a beak on their head that ink nectar from flowers.
Cabbage Whites live in open grassy areas where there are plenty of flowers for them to eat. Cabbage White caterpillars are green with dark stripes and can be found eating plants like milkweed, dandelions, plantain, and clover.
When they mature into adults, these caterpillars spin themselves into cocoon-like chrysalis or pupa before emerging as adult butterflies.
32. Orange Sulphur
Orange Sulphurs are found all over the United States but are most common on the east coast. These types of butterflies in Indiana like to overwinter as adults and lay eggs on thistle, milkweed, or goldenrod plants.
The eggs hatch in springtime, and the caterpillars eat leaves for about four weeks before becoming chrysalis for about two weeks.
Orange Sulphur butterflies are brownish-orange with yellow markings on their wings that look like a skull.
These types of butterflies in Indiana can be found near marshes, fields, woodland edges, and roadsides where thistles grow.
33. Clouded Sulphur
The Clouded Sulphur, also known as the Yellow Sulfur Butterfly, is a beautiful yellow and brown butterfly that is easy to spot.
These types of butterflies in Indiana can be found near damp areas, like swamps and marshes. Unfortunately, they are also attracted to rotting fruit and dung.
Clouded Sulphurs are most active from April through July. Females will lay their eggs on the host plant, where larvae feed on leaves. Larvae usually live for about three weeks before pupating for about two days.
After emerging from their cocoon, adults will have an average lifespan of ten days before mating and dying or until they enter into diapause during winter and hibernate until spring arrives.
34. Cloudless Sulphur
The Cloudless Sulphur is a type of butterfly native to the United States and is more common in the Midwest.
These types of butterflies in Indiana can be found near wetlands, streams, lakes, and ponds. Adults feed on flowers, while larvae feed on algae and decaying plant matter.
Other names for this butterfly include the ‘sulfur’ or the ‘sulpher.’
35. Little Sulphur
The Little Sulphur is a small, yellow butterfly. It has dark spots on its wings. Little Sulphur has a short life span and typically only lasts seven days.
The Little Sulphur’s lifespan is so short because it cannot feed on nectar or water due to its lack of long proboscis.
Indiana is home to various beautiful creatures, and butterflies are no exception. These types of butterflies in Indiana are found all over the state and can be seen year-round with their different migratory patterns.
One thing that may come as a surprise is how many types there are! From great spangled fritillaries to American snouts, at least 35 species of butterflies call Indiana home.