10 Types Of Butterflies In Kansas

You have likely seen butterflies fluttering around during the warmer months in Kansas, but did you know that there are over 170 species of butterflies that call this state home?

In this article, we will focus on ten of the most common and beautiful types of butterflies that you may spot in Kansas.

The variety of butterfly species in Kansas is due in part to the state’s diverse geography, which ranges from prairies to forests to wetlands.

Key Takeaways

  • There are over 170 species of butterflies in Kansas, with 10 common and beautiful types.
  • The diverse geography of Kansas supports various butterfly species, including important migration routes for Monarch Butterflies.
  • Habitat loss and pesticide use have led to declining populations of Monarch Butterflies, making conservation efforts necessary to protect breeding and migration habitats.
  • Each butterfly species has specific habitat preferences and life cycles, and understanding these preferences can create a suitable environment for their survival and ensure their important role as pollinators in the ecosystem.

1. Monarch Butterfly

You’ll find that the Monarch Butterfly is an iconic species in Kansas, with its distinctive orange and black wings making it easy to spot in open fields and gardens.

These butterflies are known for their incredible migration patterns, with millions of Monarchs traveling from Canada to Mexico each year.

Along the way, they stop in Kansas to feed on milkweed and other flowering plants, making the state a vital part of their journey.

Unfortunately, Monarch butterfly populations have been declining in recent years, due in part to habitat loss and pesticide use.

To combat this decline, conservation efforts have been put in place to protect the butterfly’s breeding and migration habitats.

This includes planting milkweed and other native plants, reducing pesticide use, and creating monarch waystations along their migration route.

By working together to protect the Monarch Butterfly, we can ensure that future generations will be able to witness this incredible species in all its glory.

2. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail


The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is one of the most recognizable butterflies in the United States. This stunning butterfly boasts a wingspan of up to 4.5 inches, with its wings being primarily yellow with black stripes and blue spots near the tail.

The male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail can be easily distinguished from the female due to its brighter yellow coloration and four black ‘tiger stripes’on its wings.

Habitat preferences of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail vary depending on the season. During the spring and summer months, this butterfly can be found in deciduous forests, fields, and gardens across Kansas. However, during the winter months, they tend to migrate to warmer regions.

The life cycle stages of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail include egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and adult. The female will lay her eggs on the leaves of plants such as wild cherry, birch, and tulip trees.

The caterpillars will then feed on the leaves of these plants before pupating and emerging as adults.

3. Painted Lady

Did you know that the Painted Lady is one of the most widespread butterflies in the world? These small, orange and black beauties are found on every continent except for Antarctica.

In Kansas, they can be spotted in meadows, gardens, and open fields from mid-summer through fall.

The life cycle of the Painted Lady starts as a tiny egg, which hatches into a caterpillar. After several molts, the caterpillar forms a chrysalis where it undergoes metamorphosis into a butterfly.

Once the butterfly emerges, it feeds on nectar from flowers and mates. The Painted Lady is known for its impressive migration patterns, flying thousands of miles across continents to find suitable breeding and feeding grounds.

Scientists have even tracked Painted Ladies flying at altitudes up to 20,000 feet!

4. Black Swallowtail

The Black Swallowtail, a common species in North America, can be identified by its distinctive black and blue wings with yellow markings. This butterfly’s life cycle begins with a tiny egg laid on a host plant, which is typically a member of the carrot family.

The egg hatches into a caterpillar that can be brown or green with yellow or white stripes. As the caterpillar grows, it molts its skin several times until it reaches a length of about two inches. At this point, it forms a chrysalis and undergoes metamorphosis.

The adult Black Swallowtail emerges from the chrysalis with a wingspan of about three inches. It has a preference for open fields, meadows, and gardens with plenty of flowers. These butterflies can be found throughout Kansas from late spring to early fall.

Overall, the Black Swallowtail is an important pollinator and a beautiful addition to any garden.

5. American Lady

You’ll be amazed by the striking beauty of the American Lady, with its vibrant orange and black wings, as it flutters through your garden. This butterfly species, scientifically known as Vanessa virginiensis, is commonly found in Kansas and throughout North America.

The American Lady has a wingspan of around 2 inches and is easily recognizable by its bold and contrasting colors.

The life cycle of the American Lady starts when the female lays eggs on the leaves of host plants such as sunflowers, thistles, and asters.

The eggs hatch into caterpillars that feed on the host plant before transforming into chrysalids. After a few weeks, the adult butterfly emerges from the chrysalis and continues the cycle by mating and laying eggs.

The American Lady prefers open areas such as meadows, fields, and gardens, and can be found from early spring to late fall.

Understanding the habitat preferences and life cycle of this butterfly species can help in creating a suitable environment for their survival.

6. Giant Swallowtail

Get ready to be awestruck by the magnificent Giant Swallowtail, fluttering its massive wings as it floats through your garden! This butterfly is one of the largest in North America, with a wingspan of up to 6 inches.

The upper side of its wings is black with yellow spots, while the underside is pale yellow with dark markings.

The life cycle of the Giant Swallowtail begins when the female lays eggs on the leaves of its preferred plants, such as citrus trees, prickly ash, and rue.

The eggs hatch into caterpillars that are brown and white with orange spots. These caterpillars are known for their unique ability to mimic bird droppings, which helps to protect them from predators.

After about two weeks, the caterpillar forms a chrysalis and undergoes metamorphosis.

Finally, the adult butterfly emerges and begins the cycle anew.

7. Silver-Spotted Skipper

A fascinating fact about the Silver-Spotted Skipper is that it’s capable of hibernating during the winter months. This butterfly species undergoes a complete metamorphosis, which includes four stages in its life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

The female lays her eggs on the underside of leaves of host plants, which include legumes, such as clover and alfalfa. The larvae hatch from the eggs and feed on the leaves, building their cocoons in the soil or leaf litter.

The pupal stage lasts for about two weeks, after which the adult butterfly emerges. The Silver-Spotted Skipper is typically found in open areas, such as meadows, fields, and roadsides, where its host plants grow.

It prefers areas with a mix of sunny and shady spots, as well as areas with a constant source of water, such as streams or ponds. This butterfly species is also known to be highly territorial and will defend its territory against other butterflies of the same species.

Overall, the Silver-Spotted Skipper is a fascinating butterfly species that requires specific habitat requirements for its survival.

8. Red-Spotted Purple

The Red-Spotted Purple, also known as the Limenitis arthemis, is a butterfly species that is commonly found in woodland areas in North America.

They prefer habitats with tall trees and a mix of sun and shade. They can also be found in parks and gardens, especially if there are flowering plants around.

The life cycle of the Red-Spotted Purple consists of four stages: egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. Females lay their eggs on the underside of leaves of host plants such as wild cherry or black oak.

The larvae, also known as caterpillars, feed on the leaves of these host plants.

Once they reach maturity, they form a pupa and eventually emerge as an adult butterfly. The Red-Spotted Purple is a fascinating species to observe in its natural habitat and plays an important role in the ecosystem as a pollinator.

9. Regal Fritillary

You’ll be fascinated to learn about the Regal Fritillary, a butterfly species that can be found in grasslands and prairies of North America.

These stunning butterflies have a wingspan of 2 to 3.5 inches and are characterized by their orange and black patterned wings. They are often found feeding on nectar from flowers such as milkweeds, thistles, and coneflowers.

However, the Regal Fritillary is facing serious threats due to habitat loss. As grasslands and prairies are converted into agricultural lands or urban areas, the butterfly’s natural habitat is destroyed.

Conservation efforts are underway to protect and restore these habitats.

The planting of native wildflowers and grasses, controlled burns, and reducing pesticide use are some ways that are being used to help the Regal Fritillary and other species that depend on grasslands and prairies.

10. Pearl Crescent

Don’t miss out on discovering the beauty of Pearl Crescent, a small butterfly with a big impact on pollination in North American meadows and gardens.

This butterfly is known for its distinctive orange and black wings with white spots, making it easy to spot in its natural habitat.

The Pearl Crescent is a member of the Nymphalidae family, which includes many other popular butterflies such as the Monarch and Painted Lady.

The Pearl Crescent’s life cycle begins when the female lays her eggs on the underside of a leaf. The eggs hatch into caterpillars, which feed on a variety of plants including asters and sunflowers.

Once they have grown and matured, the caterpillars form a chrysalis and undergo metamorphosis into the adult butterfly.

The Pearl Crescent prefers open areas such as meadows, fields, and gardens, and is often seen fluttering about in search of nectar.

Next time you’re out exploring, keep an eye out for this beautiful and important pollinator.

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.

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