40 Different Types of Butterflies in Michigan

Different Types of Butterflies in Michigan
Photo by Kathy Servian

Michigan has approximately 2,200 native and migrating butterfly species, depending on the season.

Butterflies are essential to the ecosystem of Michigan and play a significant role in pollinating flowers and plants, which helps them grow. 

Several types of butterflies in Michigan can be found all over the state. If you want to learn more about these species and how to attract them to your garden or home, you’ll love this guide on 40 different types of butterflies in Michigan and where you can find them!

1. Monarch

The monarch is named after the North American habitat, the monarch, which they are found in high populations.

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan have a wingspan that ranges from 4-7 cm, with females slightly larger than males. 

The species breeds twice very early, taking them one of the longest-lived butterflies in North America. Monarchs are typically found from April through November, depending on latitude and temperature.

2. Red-Spotted Admiral

The Red-spotted Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) is one of North America’s most commonly seen butterflies. These Types of Butterflies in Michigan have a wingspan of 3.5 to 4.3.

The upperside is orange with black borders, and the underside is white with black borders, with red spots on the forewing tips. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan are found all over Mimostlymostly found on dunes or marshy near lakes or rivers.

They fly from March through November but can be seen year-round at the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art’s Butterfly Garden.

3. Black Swallowtail

The black swallowtail is one of the most recognizable types of butterflies. Unlike other types, it does not have a specific color so it can be found with black or yellow wings.

Instead, it is named for its distinctive, long tail-like markings on its hind wings. The two large spots on the underside of its front wing are also reminiscent of a swallow’s tail.

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan are often seen on flowers such as dandelions or milkweed that produce bright colors and sweet nectar that attract other pollinating insects.

4. Cabbage White

The Cabbage White can be found all over the United States, with its population concentrated east of the Rocky Mountains.

In Michigan, you can find them from April through October. These Types of Butterflies in Michigan are typically seen near dandelions, clover, and other flowering plants. 

The larvae have various varieties, including wild mustard, plantain, chickweed, pokeweed, dandelion leaves, clover flowers, and alfalfa.

5. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern tiger swallowtails are one of the most common butterflies found in Michigan. They’re primarily seen during June and July but can be spotted as early as April. 

They are also great butterflies for new butterfly gardeners because they lay eggs near the tops of plants that grow near water sources.

Eastern tiger swallowtails are easy to identify because they have two sets of forewings; the upper pair is orange, while the lower ones are black with yellow stripes.

6. Silver-Spotted Skipper

The silver-spotted Skipper r is a North American butterfly species. These Types of Butterflies in Michigan are found throughout the eastern United States, west coast, and south into Mexico. They are often found in open fields, prairies, meadows, or forest clearings. 

The wingspan is 3 inches (7.6 cm) across; females are more significant than males. Males can be identified by their orange markings on the hindwing next to the body, while females have patches of orange on both wings near the body.

Females also have a row of silver spots that runs along each wing near the leading edge, giving them their name.

7. Mourning Cloak

The Mourning Cloak is a black butterfly with a purple-blue sheen. It is common across North America but can be found throughout the upper Midwest during summer.

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan are attracted to flowers that contain nectar, including milkweed, lilac, aster, goldenrod, and thistle. 

The Mourning Cloak is one of the most widespread butterflies for photography due to its distinctive appearance.

8. Red Admiral

The red admiral is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan that ranges from 2.5 inches to 4 inches. It can be seen flying during the day but is most active at dusk or dawn.

Adult females lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves, usually near small clusters of aphids. The larvae will eat these aphids and then pupate inside a thin silk cocoon attached to the leaf or stem.

Once these Types of Butterflies in Michigan emerge as adults, they’ll live for two weeks before dying. Red admirals can also be seen in Europe and Asia but not in Africa or Australia.

9. Spicebush Swallowtail

The spicebush swallowtail butterfly is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of 1.8-2.4 inches. The adult female’s wing color ranges from light brown with black dots, dark brown with white dots, or dark brown with yellow dots. 

The males are smaller than the females and have brown wings with yellow spots.

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan can be found in deciduous forests where they lay their eggs on the leaves of spicebush plants or other members of the Rutaceae family, including apple and citrus trees.

10. Peck’s Skipper

Peck’s Skipper is the most commonly found Butterfly in Michigan. They are generally found throughout the state but are most common near water sources such as lakes, ponds, marshes, streams, or creeks.

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan feed on milkweed plants that grow near these habitats. 

Peck’s Skippers can also be seen flying around flowers that they feed on, such as Queen Anne’s Lace, goldenrod, thistles, and bergamot.

Males make a humming noise during the flight, which was once thought to be a sign of aggression towards other males or females.

However, males use this noise to attract females during mating season when they are ready to reproduce.

11. Eastern Comma

The Eastern Comma Butterfly (Polygonia comma) is named for the comma-shaped spot on its wings. They range from brownish-black to tan. The Eastern Comma Butterfly has a wingspan of two to six inches with a body size of one to two inches. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan are found in North America, primarily along the east coast, as well as in central Mexico and eastern South America.

The Eastern Comma Butterfly is most commonly found in low-elevation areas such as fields, grasslands, marshes, meadows, prairies, and open woods near rivers or streams.

However, they are also found at higher elevations through the Canadian Rockies within Alberta and British Columbia.

12. Common Wood-Nymph

The Common Wood-Nymph, or C. septentrions, is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of about three inches. It has a brown forewing with black-rimmed eyespots on the underside. The hindwing is orange, mainly with brown along the outer edge. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan are typically found near wooded areas, though they can sometimes be seen in meadows.

13. Baltimore Checkerspot

The Baltimore Checkerspot, one of the most beautiful butterflies in Michigan, can be found throughout there. It is also one of the last butterflies to emerge from its cocoon.

These types of Butterflies in Michigan are usually a vibrant orange or yellow and have dark brown spots on their wings. 

These spots are what gives them their name, checkerspots. The Baltimore Checkerspot is very docile, so they will often land on a person if they sit still long enough. 

Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars feed on violets, blueberries, clovers, goldenrod, and chicory flowers.

14. Little Wood Satyr

The Little Wood Satyr (Hermeuptychia sosybius) is one of the most common species in North America, ranging from Mexico up to Canada.

They are found on low vegetation, flowers, and near streams. The larvae feed on plants and leaves, while the adults feed primarily on nectar. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan wingspan ranges from 2-2.5 inches with a pale yellow underwing with white stripes.

15. Eastern Giant Swallowtail

The Eastern Giant Swallowtail is the largest Butterfly found in Michigan. It is a large dark brown, black, or greenish butterfly with yellow spots on its wings.

These butterflies have a wingspan of 4-5 inches. These Types of Butterflies in Michigan can fly in fields, along waterways, and near forests. 

The Eastern Giant Swallowtail emerges from its chrysalis as an adult between June and July. Males are territorial and will fly around chasing other butterflies, including females.

Females lay eggs on the leaves of host plants for their larvae to eat when they emerge from their pupae after two weeks as adults.

16. Viceroy

The Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) is a standard North American butterfly found in the Eastern United Stateandas portions of Canada. The ruler has a distinctive orange, black and white wing pattern with an eye spot on the top hind wing. 

The Viceroy typically flies relatively low to the ground, so it is easier to spot this Butterfly than others that fly higher up.

The Viceroy can be found in meadows or along roadsides, but these Types of Butterflies in Michigan are most abundant near streams or ponds, where their larvae feed on water plants.

17. Northern Pearly-Eye

The northern pearly eye is a rare species, with only a handful of yearly sightings. Yet, it is one of Michigan’s most endangered types of butterflies.

You’re most likely to find them at vernal pools, which are temporary bodies of water that fill during the spring when snowmelt runoff accumulates. 

Northern pearly eyes feed on dead insects that accumulate at the pool’s edge. Unfortunately, these pools often dry up by late summer due to warmer weather conditions. If you spot one now, try not to disturb it: its lifespan is only two days!

18. Great Spangled Fritillary

The Great Spangled Fritillary is one of the most common butterflies found across Michigan. The males are easy to identify because they are rich, dark brown with a comprehensive, black border on each wing.

Females have an orange-brown body with three rows of white spots on each wing. Both males and females have long antennae that look like whiskers. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan can be found from April through October in many habitats, including forests, meadows, marshes, roadsides, fields, and gardens.

They feed on milkweeds (Asclepias) and nectar from many other flowers. The Great Spangled Fritillary is one of the most common butterflies found across Michigan.

19. Pearl Crescent

The pearl crescent (Phyciodes tharos) is a beautiful butterfly throughout the state. They are usually found near wet areas, such as swamps, marshes, or brushy areas. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan are most active during the daytime and fly at an average altitude of 6-8 feet off the ground. These Types of Butterflies in Michigan have a wingspan that ranges from 2 3⁄4 – 3 inches.

20. Northern Crescent

The Northern Crescent is a medium-sized butterfly found all across the United States. They are typically active from April-October but can be seen all year round in warmer climates.

Male crescents have a distinctive orange color with black stripes on the edges, while females are brown with lighter-colored markings on their wings. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan feed on weeds and wildflowers, including thistles, daisies, clovers, Queen Anne’s Lace, and many more.

When they’re done feeding, they will stop at nearby flowers to drink nectar before continuing their search for food or moving on to other plants. You can also find them by looking for them resting along the edges of clearings or near patches of weeds.

21. Essex Skipper

The Essex Skipper is a butterfly found year-round in the southern part of Michigan. They are always found near wet meadows, marshes, lakes, and ponds. Males have bright red spots on their wings, while females have more muted colors. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan feed on rotting fruit and nectar from plants such as goldenrod or aster flowers.

22. American Lady

The American Lady is one of the most abundant butterflies throughout North America. They are primarily found in open areas but have been known to inhabit suburban neighborhoods. 

This species is generally found at the height of 3-6 feet off the ground. These Types of Butterflies in Michigan can be seen flying during morning hours between 8:00 am and 11:00 am, but they will also fly anytime it’s sunny outside.

The American Lady has a wingspan that ranges from 3-4 inches, with an orange coloration that covers their forewings. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan have a similar body shape to the Mourning Cloak butterfly, with slight differences incl,  including using fringes on their black hindwings with white spots.

23. Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

The Canadian Tiger Swallowtail is a giant insect with a wingspan of up to 7 inches. The forewings are black, with broad red bands, while the hindwings are yellow and black stripes. It has a long, hooked snout that extracts nectar from flowers. 

In flight, it has an iridescent blue sheen on its wings. The larvae feed on plants like dogwoods and willows, while adults eat the nectar these plants produce. These Types of Butterflies in Michigan can be found in deciduous forests throughout North America.

24. Painted Lady

Although the painted lady butterfly is common, many people don’t know much about it. This is partly because it’s one of the most widespread butterflies on earth. These Types of Butterflies in Michigan are all across North America and Europe.

The painted Lady has a wingspan that ranges from 2 inches to 3 inches long. That size makes them one of the largest species of North American butterflies. The body is usually orange with black or brown stripes along its edges. 

There are often orange spots or lines within those stripes as well. The wings are mottled with red patches, almost like paint spilling down from a brush onto a canvas (hence their name).

25. Compton Tortoiseshell

The Compton Tortoiseshell butterfly is found primarily in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula. It is typically spotted along roadsides, field edges, and wet meadows with large patches of wildflowers. These Types of Butterflies in Michigan lay their eggs on or near plantain (Plantago) plants. 

The caterpillars only eat plantains and can be seen eating them during the spring-summer months when they are most active.

This Butterfly has a wing span that ranges from 1 3⁄4 to 2 inches, and its body color ranges from light brown to dark brown with black markings on top. It flies by day and night,t feeding on nectar from various flowers.

26. Clouded Sulphur

The Clouded Sulphur butterfly can be found across the country but is most common in the eastern United States.

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan feed on clover, alfalfa, oak leaves, and dandelions. The Clouded Sulphur’s scientific name is Colias philodice. 

It’s a member of the family Pieridae, which includes such butterflies as the American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) and the Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes).

27. Hobomok Skipper

The Hobomok Skipper, or hobby as butterfly enthusiasts often call it, is a small brown butterfly with two distinct white spots on the upper side of its wings.

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan are relatively common in many parts of Michigan but can be hard to find. One place where they can be found is along the shorelines near Lake Erie.

In the past few decades, their populations have been increasing. The Hobomok Skipper got its name from an early colonial American poem entitled A New England Tale that referred to this Butterfly as a hobby.

28. Eastern Tailed-Blue

Eastern-tailed-blue butterflies are the most common type of Butterfly found in Michigan. They can be seen from late April through early June. Eastern-tailed-blue butterflies prefer moist habitats with low vegetation, like wet meadows and woodlands. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan have a wingspan between 2.5 and 3 inches, with males having more blue coloring than females. Males also have elongated tails on the hindwings that are used to produce pheromones as they fly.

In addition, eastern tails-blue butterflies have a white line on their upper forewing that runs along the length of their body.

29. Small Copper

Small Copper butterflies are one of the most common butterflies in North America. These Types of Butterflies in Michigan can be found on coasts and throughout the United States but prefer warmer habitats. The Small Copper is a small butterfly with a wingspan ranging from 1 1/2 to 2 inches. 

Males are usually more brightly colored than females, while females are often lighter-colored because they spend their time sitting around waiting for males to come by.

30. Banded Hairstreak

The Banded Hairstreak is a beautiful butterfly found throughout the United States but is most abundant in the Midwest.

Adult butterflies have dark brown bodies with two or three yellow stripes on each wing. The undersides are light brown with scattered dark brown spots. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan do not feed as adults but lay eggs on various plants, such as clover and legumes.

The caterpillars consume these plants before pupating into an adult butterfly within a silken cocoon attached to leaves or stems.

31. Question Mark

The Question Mark is an orange butterfly with black spots on the upper wing. The wings also have a row of white spots. This species flies at altitudes between 8-15 feet, as they are not strong fliers like other species. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan are often seen near water, such as streams or wetlands, but can also be found on roadsides or meadows.

Females lay eggs singly on host plants for their larvae to feed on after hatching. These eggs usually hatch within one week, and the pupae are usually formed within two weeks but may take up to three weeks under unfavorable conditions.

32. Least Skipper

Least Skippers are tiny butterflies with a wingspan of 2-2.5 cm (0.8-1 inch). Male Least Skippers have dark brown wings with pale yellow spots on the margins; female Leasts Skippers are lighter brown with more prominent, irregularly shaped spots.

Least Skippers fly low among the vegetation, primarily near water, typically at heights no higher than 50 cm (20 inches) above ground level. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan will also rest on plants with their wings closed over their back, and butterflies basking bask in sunlight to warm up. 

Least Skipper caterpillars feed on wild blackberries and members of the nightshade family, including potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and tobacco plants.

33. Appalachian Brown

The Appalachian Brown is a species found primarily in intern United States but also as far north as southern Quebec.

It is generally found at elevations between 1000-2500 meters so that it can be commonly seen in mountainous areas. Its wingspan ranges from 2.5-3.8 centimeters, making it one of Michigan’s giant types of butterflies.

The Appalachian Brown has a broad range of habitats that it prefers, including forests with oak trees, meadows with blackberries or pines, and clearings near streams or rivers.

34. Common Checkered-Skipper

The Common Checkered-Skipper, or Pyrgus communis, is a medium-sized butterfly that can be found in a variety of habitats. Adults are light brown with dark checkered markings on the upper side.

For these Types of Butterflies in Michigan’s wingspan is about 1.5 inches. Males have two black spots on their forewings, one larger than the other; 

Females do not have these spots and are less colorful than males. The underside is grayish brown, with white bands across the wings that resemble a row of buttons.

Females lay eggs singly on leaves of grasses and sedges near water margins or wetlands such as ponds, streams, and marshes.

35. Common Buckeye

The buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) is one of the most commonly seen types of Butterfly. It has a wingspan between 1-1/2-inches and 3 inches, which makes it an average-sized butterfly.

Males have a dark brown or black upper wing with patches of brown on the bottom wing, while females are light yellow with patches of brown on the bottom wing. 

The buckeye can be found mainly in North America east of the Rockies, but they can also be found in Europe as well as other parts of Asia.

The buckeye prefers open fields with flowers like alfalfa, blueberry, clover, dandelion, and milkweed. They feed on these plants by sucking their nectar.

36. Dun Skipper

The Dun Skipper is a small butterfly that can be seen flying close to the ground with a fast wing beat. These Types of Butterflies in Michigan are often mistaken for skippers because they fly so low but have brownish-tan wings with a white stripe on the upper wing.

Unfortunately, the males are very territorial, making them difficult to find. Females lay eggs near the vernal pools that host the larvae’s food plant.

37. Common Ringlet

The Common Ringlet is one of the most familiar butterflies in the United States. But, unfortunately, it’s often confused with the Gray Hairstreak and even other species of butterflies that are similar to it. 

Common Ringlets have a wingspan that ranges from 2 1/2 to 3 inches, and their forewings are typically brown with a row of pale yellow spots on them.

The hind wings are either a mixture of browns, grays, or blacks; they also have two large, round eyespots that can be seen below.

In addition, these Types of Butterflies in Michigan have narrow bodies and thin antennae.

38. Orange Sulphur

Orange Sulphur butterflies are giant, bright orange and yellow with black wing tips. They have an S-shaped pattern on their wings which gives them their name. Orange Sulphurs can be found throughout Michigan from late May to September. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan prefer dry open habitats such as fields, meadows, orchards, and gardens but can also be found near water.

This Butterfly is similar to the Clouded Sulphur though it is a little smaller and more orange in color than the Clouded Sulphur.

39. Summer Azure

The summer azure is one of the few butterflies found year-round. It’s also one of Michigan’s most miniature types of butterflies, with a wingspan that measures just over an inch. The summer azure ranges from blue to green and sometimes has purple touches on its wings. 

It feeds on bramble, which is why it can be seen flying around blackberries during the late spring and early fall.

However, unlike many other Types of Butterflies in Michigan, the summer azure does not live in colonies or overwinter anywhere.

Instead, this Butterfly spends most of its life as a caterpillar – waiting for just the right time to emerge as a beautiful adult butterfly!

40. Northern Azure

The Northern Azure butterfly is native to the United States and Canada. These  Types of Butterflies in Michigan are primarily found in woodlands, meadows, and open fields. The butterflies feed on plants such as dogbane, wild carrot, vetch, and other flowers. 

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan prefer wetter habitats than most butterflies because they lay their eggs on the leaves of water lilies.

In addition, this type of Butterfly has very few predators because they have adopted certain behaviors that help protect them from predators. 

For example, when it rains or if there is a lot of mud around, they will stay close to the ground instead of flying up high into the air, where birds can see them better and eat them more easily.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many different types of butterflies in Michigan you didn’t know existed. They come in all shapes and sizes, so taking care not to harm them is essential. But, on the other hand, they are a great way to get kids interested in the outdoors!

These Types of Butterflies in Michigan are beautiful creatures and contribute to their habitat by pollinating flowers and plants, which helps other animals survive. 

The caterpillar goes through four stages before becoming an adult butterfly: the egg stage, the larva stage, the pupa stage, and finally, adulthood. Most people don’t even know there are 40+ species of butterflies in Michigan!

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