Butterflies go wherever they please and please wherever they go. They are messengers of nature, not only adding brilliance to their surroundings but also pollinating flowers and revealing the healthiness of our communities. Historically, butterflies have been revered in art and lore but otherwise have been ignored. Today, however, we are beginning to realize the many benefits of these smaller wildlife forms.

The role of butterflies is important in our natural world. Their sheer numbers supply a vast food source for predators, and they are significant plant pollinators. If plants are not pollinated, seeds and fruits are not produced.

With their acute sensitivity to pesticides and toxins, their presence, diversity and relative abundance indicate the overall well-being of our ecosystems. Their message is simple: A healthy community usually has a large number and wide array of butterfly species; a contaminated or altered community doesn't.

Butterfly-watching ranks high among our outdoor pleasures, right alongside enjoying birds and wildflowers. The aesthetic appeal of these winged creatures is even more significant once we realize that butterflies neither sting, bite, nor transmit disease.



Butterflies are a special group of insects that arouses visions of bright color fluttering amidst sun-drenched flowering meadows. Their color emanates from thousands of tiny, shinglelike scales in rows delicately attached by twin stalks to a parchmentlike wing membrane. If you gently rub your finger across a butterfly wing, these stalks break and the scales brush off like dust.

Two types of color arise from the wing-pigmented and structural or iridescent hues. Pigmented colors such as red, orange, yellow and brown come from the actual color pigment of each scale. In contrast, the iridescent, metallic colors such as blue, green, violet, silver and gold are created by minute structures on the scale surface that bend light and reflect it.

To further understand what makes butterflies unique, you might consider the miracle of metamorphosis. The four stages in butterfly metamorphosis are egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis) and adult. In the spirit of the Ugly Duckling, metamorphosis begins when the fertilized egg hatches into a small caterpillar. The caterpillar becomes an undulating eating machine, continually searching for food and appearing to grow larger by the hour. After finally getting its fill or devouring all available food in the area, the caterpillar slowly molts into an inactive, mummy-like stage called the chrysalis. Within this waxy pupal case, the mystical transformation into adulthood occurs. As the chrysalis case splits, the wrinkled-winged adult butterfly emerges. After stretching and drying, the butterfly takes to the air in search of a mate so the cycle can be repeated. The miracle is complete; the ugly caterpillar has become a beautiful airborne ambassador of nature.



Butterflies of the Garden




There are several butterflies that common to the area. The followwing list are all that I believe can be found in S.E. Minnesorta.


Eurytides marcellus Zebra Swallowtail Papilionidae Papilioninae
Papilio polyxenes Black Swallowtail Papilionidae Papilioninae
Papilio cresphontes Giant Swallowtail Papilionidae Papilioninae
Papilio glaucus Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Papilionidae Papilioninae
Papilio troilus Spicebush Swallowtail Papilionidae Papilioninae
Pieris rapae Cabbage White Pieridae Pierinae
Colias philodice Clouded Sulphur Pieridae Coliadinae
Colias eurytheme Orange Sulphur Pieridae Coliadinae
Colias [Zerene] cesonia Southern Dogface Pieridae Coliadinae
Eurema mexicana Mexican Yellow Pieridae Coliadinae
Eurema lisaL Little Yellow Pieridae Coliadinae
Nathalis iole Dainty Sulphur Pieridae Coliadinae
Lycaena phlaeas American Copper Lycaenidae Lycaeninae
Lycaena hyllus Bronze Copper Lycaenidae Lycaeninae
Lycaena helloides Purplish Copper Lycaenidae Lycaeninae
Satyrium calanus Banded Hairstreak Lycaenidae Theclinae
Satyrium caryaevorum Hickory Hairstreak Lycaenidae Theclinae
Callophrys [Mitoura] gryneus Juniper Hairstreak Lycaenidae Theclinae
Strymon melinus Gray Hairstreak Lycaenidae Theclinae
Leptotes marina Marine Blue Lycaenidae Polyommatinae
Hemiargus isola Reakirt's Blue Lycaenidae Polyommatinae
Everes comyntas Eastern Tailed-Blue Lycaenidae Polyommatinae
Celastrina ladon Spring Azure Lycaenidae Polyommatina
Euptoieta claudia Variegated Fritillary Nymphalidae Heliconiinae
Speyeria cybele Great Spangled Fritillary Nymphalidae Heliconiinae
Speyeria aphrodite Aphrodite Fritillary Nymphalidae Heliconiinae
Speyeria idalia Regal Fritillary Nymphalidae Heliconiinae
Boloria selene Silver-bordered Fritillary Nymphalidae Heliconiinae
Boloria bellona Meadow Fritillary Nymphalidae Heliconiinae
Chlosyne gorgone Gorgone Checkerspot Nymphalidae Nymphalinae
Chlosyne nycteis Silvery Checkerspot Nymphalidae Nymphalinae
Phyciodes tharos Pearl Crescent Nymphalidae Nymphalinae
Phyciodes cocyta Northern Crescent Nymphalidae Nymphalinae
Euphydryas phaeton Baltimore Nymphalidae Nymphalinae
Polygonia interrogationis Question Mark Nymphalidae Nymphalinae
Polygonia progne Gray Comma Nymphalidae Nymphalinae
Nymphalis antiopa Mourning Cloak Nymphalidae Nymphalinae
Nymphalis [Aglais] milberti Milbert's Tortoiseshell Nymphalidae Nymphalinae
Vanessa virginiensis American Lady Nymphalidae Nymphalinae
Vanessa cardui Painted Lady Nymphalidae Nymphalinae
Vanessa atalanta Red Admiral Nymphalidae Nymphalinae
Junonia coenia Common Buckeye Nymphalidae Nymphalinae
Limenitis [Basilarchia] arthemis astyanax (incl. arizonensis) 'Astyanax' Red-spotted Purple Nymphalidae Limenitidinae
Limenitis [Basilarchia] arthemis arthemis (white-banded) White Admiral Nymphalidae Limenitidinae
Limenitis [Basilarchia] archippus Viceroy Nymphalidae Limenitidinae
Asterocampa celtis Hackberry Emperor Nymphalidae Apaturinae
Asterocampa clyton Tawny Emperor Nymphalidae Apaturinae
Enodia anthedon Northern Pearly Eye Nymphalidae Satyrinae
Eyed Brown (Satyrodes eurydice (incl. fumosus)) Eyed Brown Nymphalidae Satyrinae
Megisto cymela Little Wood Satyr Nymphalidae Satyrinae
Cercyonis pegala Common Wood Nymph Nymphalidae Satyrinae
Monarch (Danaus plexippus) Monarch Nymphalidae Danainae
Epargyreus clarus (incl. huachuca) Silver-spotted Skipper Hesperiidae Pyrginae
Thorybes bathyllus (=daunus) Southern Cloudywing Hesperiidae Pyrginae
Thorybes pylades Northern Cloudywing Hesperiidae Pyrginae
Erynnis icelus Dreamy Duskywing Hesperiidae Pyrginae
Erynnis juvenalis Juvenal's Duskywing Hesperiidae Pyrginae
Erynnis martialis Mottled Duskywing Hesperiidae Pyrginae
Pyrgus communis Common Checkered-Skipper Hesperiidae Pyrginae
Common Sootywing (Pholisora catullus) Common Sootywing Hesperiidae Pyrginae
Ancyloxypha numitor Least Skipper Hesperiidae Hesperiinae
Hesperia comma Common Branded Skipper Hesperiidae Hesperiinae
Hesperia ottoe Ottoe Skipper Hesperiidae Hesperiinae
Hesperia leonardus (incl. pawnee) Leonard's Skipper Hesperiidae Hesperiinae
Indian Skipper (Hesperia sassacus) Indian Skipper Hesperiidae Hesperiinae
Peck's Skipper (Polites peckius (=coras)) Peck's Skipper Hesperiidae Hesperiinae
Polites themistocles Tawny-edged Skipper Hesperiidae Hesperiinae
    Hesperiidae Hesperiinae
    Hesperiidae Hesperiinae
    Hesperiidae Hesperiinae
    Hesperiidae Hesperiinae
    Hesperiidae Hesperiinae
    Hesperiidae Hesperiinae
    Hesperiidae Hesperiinae
    Hesperiidae Hesperiinae





Erynnis persius (Scudder) persius dusky wing

Hesperia comma assiniboia (Lyman) assiniboia skipper

Hesperia uncas W.H. Edwards uncas skipper

Lycaeides melissa samuelis Nabokov Karner blue (E)

Oeneis uhleri varuna, (W.H. Edwards) Uhler's arctic



Hesperia dacotae (Skinner) dakota skipper

Hesperia ottoe W.H. Edwards ottoe skipper

Oarisma garita (Reakirt) garita skipper


Special Concern

Atrytone arogos (Boisduval & Leconte) arogos skipper

Erebia disa mancinus Doubleday & Hewitson disa alpine

Hesperia leonardus Harris leonardus skipper

Lycaeides idas nabokovi Masters Nabokov's blue

Oarisma powesheik (Parker) powesheik skipper

Pyrgus centaureae freija (Warren) grizzled skipper

Schinia indiana (J.B. Smith) phlox moth

Speyeria idalia (Drury) regal fritillary


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