10 Types Of Butterflies In Colorado

If you’re lucky enough to live in Colorado, you’re also lucky enough to be surrounded by an array of beautiful butterflies. Colorado is home to a diverse population of butterflies, each with their unique characteristics and patterns.

Whether you’re an avid butterfly enthusiast or just enjoy observing their beauty, Colorado has ten species of butterflies that are worth learning about.

Throughout this article, we will explore each of these ten species of butterflies in Colorado, and what makes them so special.

Key Takeaways

  • Colorado has a diverse population of butterflies with 10 species worth learning about.
  • Monarch butterflies, which migrate from Mexico to Canada over 3000 miles, are threatened by habitat loss and pesticide use, but conservation efforts are being implemented to protect and restore their populations.
  • Painted Lady butterflies are common in Colorado and have a distinct life cycle with four stages.
  • Mourning Cloak, Western Tiger Swallowtail, Red Admiral, Great Spangled Fritillary, Two-tailed Swallowtail, and Queen butterflies are also found in Colorado, each with their own specific habitat preferences and unique characteristics.

1. Monarch Butterfly

If you’re lucky enough to spot a Monarch butterfly in Colorado, you’ll be treated to a stunning display of orange and black wings fluttering gracefully in the breeze.

These beautiful butterflies are commonly found in Colorado during the summer months, as they migrate from Mexico to Canada.

Monarch butterflies are known for their long and impressive migration, which spans over 3000 miles and takes multiple generations to complete.

Unfortunately, the monarch butterfly population has been threatened in recent years due to habitat loss and pesticide use.

These factors have led to a decline in milkweed, the sole food source for monarch caterpillars, and have also disrupted their migration patterns.

As a result, conservation efforts have been implemented to help protect and restore monarch butterfly populations.

With continued efforts, we can hopefully ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the beauty of these magnificent creatures.

2. Painted Lady Butterfly

You’ll love spotting the vibrant orange and black wings of the Painted Lady butterfly fluttering by. These butterflies are common in Colorado and can be found in a variety of habitats, including gardens, fields, and meadows.

The Painted Lady butterfly has a distinct life cycle with four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The eggs are laid on the leaves of host plants such as thistle and hollyhock, and the larvae emerge and feed on the leaves.

After several molts, the larvae form a chrysalis and eventually emerge as an adult butterfly.

The Painted Lady butterfly is also known for its impressive migration patterns. These butterflies migrate thousands of miles each year, traveling from Mexico to Canada and back again. During their migration, they rely on a variety of nectar plants for food and rest.

It’s fascinating to observe these small insects making such a long journey, and it underscores the importance of protecting their habitats and food sources.

If you’re lucky enough to spot a Painted Lady butterfly during your time in Colorado, take a moment to appreciate its beauty and the incredible journey it has undertaken.

3. Mourning Cloak Butterfly

The Mourning Cloak butterfly is a common sight in forests and wooded areas across the United States. It has dark wings edged in vibrant blue and yellow spots. This butterfly has a unique life cycle that spans over a year.

The females lay their eggs on the twigs of trees and shrubs. The larvae emerge and feed on the leaves. After going through several molts, the larvae enter a dormant stage called diapause, where they remain inactive for several months.

The Mourning Cloak butterfly has specific habitat preferences and can be found in areas with mature trees and shrubs, such as deciduous forests, wooded areas, and riparian zones.

They are also known to visit gardens and parks with suitable vegetation.

These butterflies are important pollinators and are often seen drinking nectar from flowers. With its distinctive colors and habitat preferences, the Mourning Cloak butterfly is an essential part of the ecosystem and a fascinating species to observe.

4. Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

When you spot a Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, you’ll be captivated by its striking black and yellow striped wings, making it easily recognizable in its habitat among the trees and flowers.

This butterfly species is commonly found in the western regions of North America, including Colorado, where it thrives in a variety of habitats such as forests, parks, and gardens.

Interestingly, the Western Tiger Swallowtail has two distinct habitat requirements: it requires water sources for breeding and open areas for foraging.

Like all butterflies, it undergoes a complete metamorphosis, which means it goes through four distinct life cycle stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

The female butterfly lays her eggs on leaves of host plants, which include cottonwood, willow, and aspen. The eggs hatch into larvae, commonly known as caterpillars, which feed on the host plant leaves until they are ready to pupate.

The pupa stage is when the caterpillar undergoes a transformation into an adult butterfly.

The adult emerges from the pupa with wet wings and must wait for them to dry before it can take flight and begin its life cycle all over again.

5. Red Admiral Butterfly

Get ready to be mesmerized by the vibrant colors of the Red Admiral butterfly, commonly found in gardens and parks across North America. This butterfly is known for its striking red-orange stripes on its black wings, and a distinctive white band on its forewings.

The Red Admiral butterfly has a relatively short life cycle, lasting only a few weeks. Females lay their eggs on nettles and other plants, which serve as the primary food source for their larvae.

Once hatched, the larvae feed on the leaves and grow rapidly, eventually forming a chrysalis.

After a week or two, the adult butterfly emerges from the chrysalis and begins its search for a mate. The Red Admiral butterfly prefers open habitats such as gardens, parks, and meadows where it can feed on nectar from a variety of flowers.

So, if you want to catch a glimpse of this beautiful butterfly, be sure to keep an eye out for it in these areas.

6. Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly

You’ll be amazed by the intricate patterns and bold colors of the Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly, found in fields and meadows across North America. This butterfly is one of the larger fritillary species, with a wingspan of up to 3 inches.

Its upper wings are a bright orange color, with black markings and silver spots. The undersides of the wings are a duller orange, with black and silver spots as well.

The Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly has a habitat preference for open fields and meadows with plenty of flowers and nectar sources. This butterfly is also known for its migratory behavior, with some populations traveling up to 700 miles each year.

During its life cycle stages, the Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly goes through four distinct phases: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The female butterfly lays her eggs on the underside of host plants, which are typically violets.

The larvae feed on the leaves of these plants and eventually form their chrysalises, where they undergo metamorphosis into adult butterflies.

7. Two-tailed Swallowtail Butterfly

Now that you know about the Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly, let’s move on to another beautiful butterfly species found in Colorado – the Two-tailed Swallowtail Butterfly.

This butterfly species is known for its striking yellow color with black stripes and two tails on its hindwings. The Two-tailed Swallowtail Butterfly can be found in a variety of habitats in Colorado, including meadows, forests, and near water sources.

They are known to be active during the day and can often be seen fluttering around flowers, searching for nectar. Interestingly, this butterfly species has a unique behavior of ‘puddling’, which refers to the act of gathering minerals and nutrients from damp soil or rocks.

Keep an eye out for the Two-tailed Swallowtail Butterfly during the summer months, as this is when they are most active and visible.

8. Queen Butterfly

If you’re lucky enough to spot a Queen Butterfly while exploring the outdoors, you’ll be mesmerized by its vibrant orange and black wings that resemble stained glass windows.

This species is commonly found in Colorado, inhabiting a variety of open habitats such as fields, meadows, and gardens. The Queen Butterfly’s habitat preference is due to its need for milkweed plants, which are essential for its life cycle.

The life cycle of the Queen Butterfly is similar to other butterflies, progressing from egg to caterpillar, pupa, and finally adult. The female lays her eggs on milkweed plants, and the emerging caterpillars feed exclusively on the plant’s leaves.

The caterpillar then forms a chrysalis and undergoes metamorphosis before emerging as an adult butterfly. The Queen Butterfly’s life cycle is an important part of Colorado’s ecosystem and is a fascinating process to witness in the wild.

Queen butterflies are known for their long migrations, traveling up to 1,200 miles from their breeding grounds in Canada to their overwintering sites in central Mexico. The Queen Butterfly is a close relative of the Monarch Butterfly, with similar wing patterns and life cycle.

The Queen Butterfly is not considered a threatened species, but its dependence on milkweed plants makes it vulnerable to habitat loss.

The bright orange color of the Queen Butterfly’s wings is a warning to predators that it is toxic and unpalatable. The Queen Butterfly’s wingspan can reach up to 4 inches, making it one of the larger butterfly species in Colorado.

9. Common Buckeye Butterfly

The Common Buckeye Butterfly, with its distinct eye-like markings on its wings, is a fascinating species that undergoes a unique life cycle.

This species can be found in open fields, meadows, and along the edges of forests throughout Colorado. The Buckeye butterfly habitat also includes areas with tall grasses and wildflowers, as these provide a source of nectar for the adult butterflies.

During the fall months, the Common Buckeye Butterfly is known to migrate southward to warmer climates. This species typically follows a route that takes them through the central and eastern regions of the United States.

However, some individuals may also migrate westward towards the Pacific coast.

The Buckeye butterfly migration patterns are still the subject of ongoing research, but these migrations are thought to be triggered by changes in temperature and daylight hours.

10. Cabbage White Butterfly

You might be interested to know that the Cabbage White Butterfly, also known as the Small White Butterfly, is a common sight in gardens and fields across North America.

This butterfly has a wingspan of about 1.5 inches and is easily recognizable by its white wings with black spots.

The Cabbage White Butterfly is a member of the Pieridae family, which includes other white and yellow butterflies.

The life cycle of the Cabbage White Butterfly consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Females lay their eggs on plants in the cabbage family, including broccoli, kale, and mustard.

The larvae, known as cabbage worms, feed on these plants and can cause significant damage.

The pupa stage lasts about two weeks, after which the adult butterfly emerges.

The Cabbage White Butterfly prefers open habitats, such as fields and gardens, and is particularly abundant in urban areas.

Brian Koller

Growing up on a farm in eastern PA, I’ve grown fond of wildlife and the woods and learning about the critters and firewood and everything else in-between. I made this site to share my experiences and knowledge.

Other Articles