10 Types Of Butterflies In Missouri

If you find yourself wandering through the enchanting landscapes of Missouri, be prepared to witness a dazzling display of nature’s most delicate creatures – butterflies.

Missouri is home to a diverse array of butterfly species, each one more captivating than the last.

From the majestic Monarch Butterfly to the vibrant Red Admiral, these winged wonders will surely captivate your senses and ignite your curiosity.

Explore the world of butterflies as we embark on a journey through the vast prairies, lush forests, and vibrant gardens of Missouri.

Key Takeaways

  • Monarch Butterfly is a beloved visitor to Missouri’s butterfly gardens and relies on milkweed plants for food and egg-laying. However, its populations are declining due to habitat loss and pesticide use.
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a vibrant yellow and black butterfly found in woodlands, marshes, and suburban gardens. It goes through the life cycle of egg, caterpillar, cocoon, and butterfly.
  • Black Swallowtail is a striking butterfly with black and yellow wings. It can be found in open fields, gardens, and meadows and undergoes the life cycle of egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly.
  • Painted Lady butterfly is known for its long-distance migration and goes through multiple stages of molting. It lays eggs on specific host plants and can travel thousands of miles during migration.

Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch Butterfly, known for its vibrant orange and black wings, is a beloved visitor to Missouri’s butterfly gardens. This iconic species is not only beautiful, but it also plays a vital role in our ecosystem.

Habitat preservation is crucial for the survival of the Monarch Butterfly. They rely on milkweed plants, which serve as both a food source for their caterpillars and a place for their eggs to be laid.

Unfortunately, due to habitat loss and pesticide use, their populations have been declining.

Another fascinating aspect of the Monarch Butterfly is their incredible migration patterns. Each year, they travel thousands of miles to their wintering grounds in Mexico.

This journey is awe-inspiring and showcases the resilience and adaptability of these incredible creatures.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

With its vibrant yellow and black wings, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail flutters gracefully through the meadows and gardens of Missouri.

This magnificent butterfly, scientifically known as Papilio glaucus, undergoes a fascinating life cycle consisting of four distinct stages.

It begins as an egg, which is laid on the leaves of trees such as tulip poplar and wild cherry. After hatching, the caterpillar goes through multiple molts, shedding its skin and growing larger each time.

Eventually, it forms a cocoon, where it undergoes metamorphosis and transforms into a beautiful adult butterfly.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, marshes, and suburban gardens.

As for its diet, this species primarily feeds on nectar from flowers such as milkweed, thistle, and wild cherry blossoms.

Black Swallowtail

Fluttering gracefully through gardens and meadows, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail’s cousin, the Black Swallowtail, adds a touch of elegance with its striking black and yellow wings.

The Black Swallowtail, scientifically known as Papilio polyxenes, undergoes a fascinating life cycle.

The adult female lays tiny yellow eggs on plants such as dill, parsley, and fennel, which serve as host plants for the caterpillars. The caterpillars, with their black bodies and yellow spots, go through five instars before forming a chrysalis. After about two weeks, the beautiful adult butterfly emerges.

Black Swallowtails can be found across the United States, including Missouri, where they inhabit open fields, gardens, and meadows.

Preserving their host plants is crucial as it ensures the survival of these magnificent creatures. By planting and maintaining dill, parsley, and fennel, we can provide a suitable habitat for the Black Swallowtail and contribute to their conservation.

Painted Lady

Did you know that the Painted Lady butterfly, scientifically known as Vanessa cardui, is known for its impressive long-distance migration? This beautiful insect has a fascinating life cycle and migratory patterns that are worth exploring.

Here are three key aspects of the Painted Lady butterfly’s life:

  1. Egg: The female Painted Lady butterfly lays her eggs on specific host plants, such as thistles or mallows. Each egg is tiny and pale green in color.
  2. Caterpillar: Once the eggs hatch, they turn into caterpillars. These caterpillars have spiky black bodies with yellow dots and feed on the host plants. They go through several stages of molting before transforming into pupae.
  3. Migration: The Painted Lady butterfly is known for its long-distance migration. They can travel thousands of miles, crossing continents and even oceans. This migration is believed to be triggered by seasonal changes and the availability of food sources.

Understanding the life cycle and migration patterns of the Painted Lady butterfly provides insights into the remarkable abilities and adaptations of this species.

Red Admiral

The Red Admiral butterfly, scientifically known as Vanessa atalanta, showcases striking black and orange wings that captivate observers. This butterfly is known for its vibrant colors, making it easily recognizable in the wild.

The wings of the Red Admiral are predominantly black, with red-orange bands crossing horizontally.

These colors serve as a warning to predators, indicating that the butterfly is toxic and shouldn’t be consumed.

Additionally, the Red Admiral plays a crucial role in pollination and the ecosystem. As it feeds on nectar from various flowers, it inadvertently transfers pollen from one flower to another, aiding in the reproduction of plants.

This process is essential for the survival and diversity of plant species, making the Red Admiral a valuable contributor to the ecosystem.

Common Buckeye

With its wings adorned in intricate patterns resembling eyespots, the Common Buckeye butterfly, known scientifically as Junonia coenia, dances through the air, a living work of art.

This fascinating species is known for its unique migration patterns and distinct life cycle stages.

The Common Buckeye butterfly exhibits a remarkable migratory behavior, with individuals traveling long distances to find suitable habitats.

They are known to migrate from southern parts of the United States, including Missouri, to northern regions during the summer months. This migration allows them to take advantage of abundant food sources and avoid harsh weather conditions.

Like all butterflies, the Common Buckeye undergoes a complete metamorphosis, transitioning through four distinct life cycle stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

The female butterfly lays tiny eggs on host plants, typically those belonging to the snapdragon family. The eggs hatch into larvae, or caterpillars, which feed on the leaves of the host plant.

After several molts, the caterpillar forms a pupa, or chrysalis, in which it undergoes a remarkable transformation. Finally, the adult butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, ready to continue the cycle of life.

Through its migration patterns and life cycle stages, the Common Buckeye butterfly showcases the incredible adaptability and beauty of nature.

Question Mark

As the Common Buckeye butterfly dances through the air, its intricate patterns of eyespots resemble a question mark, inviting us to ponder the mysteries and wonders of nature.

But what are the most common butterfly species in Missouri? One such species is the Question Mark butterfly (Polygonia interrogationis).

This butterfly gets its name from the silver marking on the underside of its hindwing, which resembles a question mark. It is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of about 2.5 to 3 inches.

The Question Mark butterfly is commonly found in Missouri and can be attracted to gardens by planting native host plants such as hackberry trees.

Additionally, providing a variety of nectar-rich flowers like milkweed, coneflower, and butterfly bush can help attract butterflies to your garden in Missouri.

By creating a butterfly-friendly habitat, we can enjoy the beauty of these delicate creatures while supporting their population.

Pearl Crescent

Now let’s move on to the next subtopic, the Pearl Crescent butterfly. This small but vibrant butterfly can be found in Missouri, among other regions. The Pearl Crescent gets its name from the pearl-like spots on its wings, creating a beautiful pattern.

In terms of habitat, Pearl Crescents are adaptable and can be found in a variety of environments, including open fields, meadows, and gardens. They prefer areas with ample sunlight and nectar-rich plants.

When it comes to feeding habits, Pearl Crescents primarily feed on the nectar of various flowering plants such as asters and goldenrods.

They also have a unique behavior called mud-puddling, where they gather minerals and salts from damp soil or mud.

In addition to their aesthetic appeal, Pearl Crescents play an important role in pollination. As they visit flowers in search of nectar, they inadvertently transfer pollen from one flower to another, aiding in the reproduction of plants.

The Pearl Crescent butterfly is a fascinating species with a diverse habitat and feeding habits. Their role in pollination further emphasizes their ecological importance.

Giant Swallowtail

Moving on to the next subtopic, let’s delve into the fascinating world of the Giant Swallowtail butterfly. The Giant Swallowtail, scientifically known as Papilio cresphontes, is a beautiful and captivating species found in Missouri.

This majestic butterfly is known for its impressive size, with a wingspan that can reach up to six inches.

When it comes to habitat preferences, the Giant Swallowtail can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, and gardens. They’re particularly attracted to areas with abundant nectar sources and host plants such as citrus trees and prickly ash.

In terms of migration patterns, the Giant Swallowtail isn’t known for long-distance migrations like some other butterfly species.

However, they can exhibit local movements in search of suitable breeding and feeding grounds. These movements are influenced by factors such as weather conditions and the availability of host plants.

The Giant Swallowtail butterfly is a fascinating creature with unique habitat preferences and local migration patterns. Studying these aspects helps us better understand and appreciate the delicate balance of nature.

Spicebush Swallowtail

Let’s explore the enchanting world of the Spicebush Swallowtail, a butterfly species that adds vibrancy to gardens and forests alike. This stunning butterfly undergoes a fascinating life cycle, consisting of four distinct stages:

  1. Egg: The female Spicebush Swallowtail carefully selects a host plant, such as spicebush or sassafras, to lay her eggs. These tiny, round eggs are pale green and blend seamlessly with the plant’s leaves.
  2. Larva: Once hatched, the caterpillar emerges, displaying a striking resemblance to a snake. Its body is adorned with large, false eyespots that act as a defense mechanism against predators.
  3. Pupa: The caterpillar eventually forms a chrysalis, which is a protective covering where it undergoes a remarkable transformation. Inside this cocoon, the caterpillar gradually morphs into a magnificent butterfly.
  4. Adult: After emerging from the chrysalis, the Spicebush Swallowtail spreads its wings, revealing its stunning beauty. With its black wings adorned with bright blue spots, this butterfly is a sight to behold.

In terms of habitat preferences, the Spicebush Swallowtail can be found in woodlands, forests, and gardens. It particularly favors areas with an abundance of spicebush and sassafras plants, as these serve as both host plants for its eggs and a source of nectar for the adult butterfly.

So, if you want to attract these magnificent creatures to your garden, consider planting some spicebush or sassafras and witness the magic unfold.

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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