Butterfly and Moth Guide

Initially this guide displays common species likely to be flitting right now. Use the selectors below to view by color, include rare species, or search by name.

Over 100 species of butterflies and skippers have been identified in the Los Alamos area, and over 150 in the Jemez Mountains. This guide mainly includes the common species, but even some of these are difficult to tell apart. For example, we have 4 species of fritillaries with very subtle differences.

In addition, there are an equally large number of moths in the area. However, most moths are active at night they are not as readily observed. Therefore, this guide primarily focuses on the moths that are more obvious due to their size or the fact that they are active during the day. The easiest way to tell a moth from a butterfly is to look at the antennae. The moth has feathery or saw-edged antennae, while the butterfly has antennae that look like a long shaft with a bulb at the end. In addition, moths and butterflies tend to hold their wings differently. Moths tend to fold their wings down to form a tent over their abdomen, hiding it from view. In contrast, butterflies usually hold their wings vertically up over their backs.

Both butterflies and moths develop through a process of complete metamorphosis with four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The young are very different from the adults and often eat different types of food. Pictures of the caterpillar larva for many of the species in this guide are included.

Get current information by joining PEEC Butterfly Watchers and taking a look at PEEC’s Butterfly, Skipper, and Moth set on Flickr. Additional information can be found in Butterflies through Binoculars: The West and Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. Close-focusing binoculars are the best equipment for watching adult butterflies and moths.

Butterfly and Moth References

BugGuide
Butterflies and Moths of North America
Cary, S., 2009 Butterfly Landscapes of New Mexico. New Mexico Magazine
eNature
Glassberg, J., 2001 Butterflies Through Binoculars: The West. Oxford University Press
How to Build a Butterfly Garden

Subject Area Experts (all guides)

Steve Cary (butterflies)
Beth Cortright (insects)
Terry Foxx (invasive plants)
Leslie Hansen (mammals)
Richard Hansen (fish, mammals)
Dorothy Hoard (butterflies, trees)
Chick Keller (flowers, herbarium)
Shari Kelley (geology)
Kirt Kempter (geology)
Garth Tietjen (reptiles)
David Yeamans (birds)

Web Development and Content Management

Pat Bacha
Jennifer Macke
Graham Mark
Akkana Peck

Contact

Please contact us for local nature questions and sightings. We welcome comments, corrections, and additions to our guides.

For more information about local nature, please visit our Nature Blog or subscribe to PEEC This Week.

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Showing 64 of 83 butterflies and moths.
Police Car Moth

Photo: Marion Stelts

Police Car Moth

Photo: J. N. Stuart

Police Car Moth

Photo: William M. Ciesla

Police Car Moth, Green Lattice Moth

(Gnophaela vermiculata)

Family: Arctiinae subfamily (Tiger and Lichen Moths)
Size: 1.9 - 2.1 in (5 - 5 cm)
Color: black
Flits: Jun 01 - Sep 15

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: nectar from plants such as thistle and goldenrod
Host: bluebells, puccoon and stickweed
Habitat: widely distributed at mid-elevation

Police Car Moths have wings with very distinctive white patches with black veins. They are diurnal and fly fairly slowly between flower so that they are easy to net.

Info    Photos   
Wood Tiger Moth

Photo: Jim Vargo

Wood Tiger Moth

Photo: Andrew White

Wood Tiger Moth

Photo:
James K. Lindsey

Wood Tiger Moth

(Parasemia plantaginis)

Family: Arctiinae subfamily (Tiger and Lichen Moths)
Size: 1.3 - 1.5 in (3 - 4 cm)
Color: black
Flits: Jun 01 - Jul 31

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: nectar from low-growing plants
Host: herbaceous plants
Habitat: widely distributed at higher elevations throughout the Rocky Mountains

These moths mostly fly during the day but females often fly at night. There are numerous named distinct forms of the Wood Tiger Moth. The extent of the markings and spots on the forewing and hindwing are variable between forms. Males from mountain populations generally have some white on the hindwing. Females tend to have yellow to red on the upper portions of their hindwings.

Info    Photos   
Black Witch

Photo: Chick Keller

Black Witch

Photo: bkovarkez

Black Witch

Photo: Clifton Albrecht

Black Witch, Mariposa de la Muerte

(Ascalapha odorata)

Family: Erebidae (Erebid Moths)
Size: 4.5 - 6.5 in (11 - 17 cm)
Color: black, brown
Flits: Jan 01 - Oct 15

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar, sap, and juice of fallen fruit
Host: cassia and catclaw
Habitat: not a habitat specialist; rests on building during the day

The Black Witch is the largest moth in the continental United States and some resemblance to a small bat. Its wings are dark brown with wavy brown or black lines and a spot near the leading edge of the forewing that is shaped like a comma or numeral nine. Under certain circumstances, iridescent tinges of color may be seen around the spots and lines. Males are smaller than females and darker in color (top photo). Females have a distinctive undulating white bar crossing the wings (middle photo). The Black Witch is nocturnal and has an aura of darkness and misfortune associated with it. It is considered to be a harbinger of death or bad luck in many countries including Mexico. Alternatively, if you see a Black Witch after someone has died, it is interperted as meaning that the person has returned to bid you farewell.

Info    Photos   
Silver-spotted Skipper

Photo: Greg Lasley

Silver-spotted Skipper

Photo: Chick Keller

Silver-spotted Skipper

Photo: muscogeegirl

Silver-spotted Skipper

(Epargyreus clarus)

Family: Hesperidiidae (Skippers)
Size: 1.8 - 2.4 in (4 - 6 cm)
Color: brown
Flits: May 01 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from flowers including milkweed, red clover, and thistles
Host: New Mexico locust
Habitat: disturbed and open woods, foothill stream courses

Prominent large, splashy, silver mark on underside of hindwings.

Info    Photos   
Funereal Duskywing

Photo: Earl Hoffman

Funereal Duskywing

Photo: © Kim Davis and Mike Stange

Funereal Duskywing

(Erynnis funeralis)

Family: Hesperidiidae (Skippers)
Size: 1.3 - 1.8 in (3 - 4 cm)
Color: black, brown
Flits: May 01 - Sep 30

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: nectar from flowers
Host: legumes including New Mexican locust, bur clover, deerweed, desert ironwood, and vetch
Habitat: deserts, arid lowlands, roadsides

Wings are black or dark brown with white hindwing fringes. Its forewing is narrow and pointed, and the hindwing somewhat triangular. It is named for its dark coloration.

Info    Photos   
Rocky Mountain Duskywing

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Rocky Mountain Duskywing

Photo: © Kim Davis and Mike Stangeland

Rocky Mountain Duskywing

Photo: Todd Stout

Rocky Mountain Duskywing

(Erynnis telemachus)

Family: Hesperidiidae (Skippers)
Size: 1.4 - 1.8 in (3 - 4 cm)
Color: gray
Flits: Apr 01 - Jul 30

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: Gambel oak
Habitat: open areas near woods

Gray forewings, brownish hindwings. Our most common duskywing, one of four that even experts have trouble telling apart.

Info    Photos   
Edward's Skipperling

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Edward's Skipperling

Photo: Alan Schmierer

Edward's Skipperling

Photo: Jim P. Brock

Edward's Skipperling

(Oarisma edwardsii)

Family: Hesperidiidae (Skippers)
Size: 0.9 - 1.1 in (2 - 3 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: Jun 01 - Sep 01

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: flower nectar
Host: sedges and grasses
Habitat: grassy oak savannas

Edward's Skipperlings are known for their rapid, darting flight. The tips of their antennas have a narrow hook-like projection. Their wings have white fringes.

Info    Photos   
Taxiles Skipper

Photo: Steven Mlodinow

Taxiles Skipper

Photo: Rozelle Wright

Taxiles Skipper

Photo: Todd Stuart

Taxiles Skipper

(Poanes taxiles)

Family: Hesperidiidae (Skippers)
Size: 1.3 - 1.7 in (3 - 4 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: May 01 - Sep 30

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: nectar from flowers
Host: grasses
Habitat: valley bottoms, high-plains cottonwood groves, shady areas

The sexes are dimporphic, with the males having yellow-orange colored wings with brown edges. Females are generally darker, with gray on the underwing. Its range extends from South Dakota and Nebraska south through the southern Rocky Mountains to central Mexico.

Info    Photos   
Common Checkered Skipper

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Common Checkered Skipper

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Common Checkered Skipper

Photo: Todd Stout

Common Checkered Skipper, Checkered Skipper

(Pyrgus communis)

Family: Hesperidiidae (Skippers)
Size: 1 - 1.5 in (3 - 4 cm)
Color: black, gray
Flits: May 15 - Sep 15

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from white-flowered composites
Host: mallow family
Habitat: open, sunny places with low vegetation and some bare soil

Male has blue-gray body, while female has black body. Found both at high and low elevations.

Info    Photos   
Uncas Skipper

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Uncas Skipper

Photo: Sam Kieschnick

Uncas Skipper

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Uncas Skipper

(Hesperia uncas)

Family: Hesperiidae (Skippers)
Size: 1.1 - 1.6 in (3 - 4 cm)
Color: black, brown
Flits: May 15 - Aug 01

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: blue grama grass and needlegrass
Habitat: open woodland, short grass areas

The Uncas Skipper larvae build themselves shelters out of silk and plant materials. These shelters are expanded as the larvae grows. The adults are very strong fliers. They have such a fast wing beat that they can appear to be just a blur to the human eye. These butterflies only live for about three weeks and lose scales as they age. This causes their wing patterns to slowly disappear and the wings themselves to become duller.

Info    Photos   
Garita Skipperling

Photo: Bill Bouton

Garita Skipperling

Photo: Blaire Bradley

Garita Skipperling, Western Skipperling

(Oarisma garita)

Family: Hesperiidae (Skippers)
Size: 0.8 - 1.1 in (2 - 3 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: Jun 01 - Aug 01

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: flower nectar
Host: various grasses
Habitat: higher montane open grasslands

These small butterflies are orange brown above and under the forewings but gray with orange margins on the underside of the hindwings. They are weak flyers. Females lay their eggs on grass stems. Larvae are light green with a white stripes. They hibernate in their fourth stage.

Info    Photos   
Russet Skipperling

Photo: Joshua Smith

Russet Skipperling

Photo: Marion Stelts

Russet Skipperling

(Piruna pirus)

Family: Hesperiidae (Skippers)
Size: 1 - 1.1 in (3 - 3 cm)
Color: brown
Flits: May 15 - Aug 15

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: flower nectar
Host: wide leaved grasses
Habitat: grassy area along streams and meadows

Reddish brown underneath and dark brown on top with small white spots. They typically bask with forewings open to 45 degree and hindwings open wide. Like all Skippers they have a “bouncy” flight. Fully grown caterpillars hibernate.

Info    Photos   
Great Purple Hairstreak

Photo: reiver

Great Purple Hairstreak

Photo: Bob Walker

Great Purple Hairstreak

Photo: Arica Shields

Great Purple Hairstreak, Great Blue Hairstreak

(Atlides halesus)

Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged Butterflies)
Size: 1.3 - 2 in (3 - 5 cm)
Color: blue, brown
Flits: Mar 01 - Dec 01

Status: native; common
Food source: Nectar from flowers including goldenrod and wild plum
Host: mistletoe
Habitat: mixed woods infested with mistletoe
Typical location: White Rock Canyon

The Great Purple Hairstreak is a Neotropical species with a range from the southern parts of the US down through the Isthmus of Panama. Its primary coloration is bright blue above and brown with white, yellow, and red spots below. It has an orange abdomen. Larvae feed on the parasitic mistletoe but pupate under the bark of the parasitized tree.

Info    Photos   
Western Green Hairstreak

Photo: Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard

Western Green Hairstreak

Photo: Robb Hannawacker

Western Green Hairstreak

(Callophrys affinis)

Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged Butterflies)
Size: 1 - 1.1 in (3 - 3 cm)
Color: green
Flits: Mar 01 - Aug 01

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: flower nectar
Host: buckwheat
Habitat: sagelands, often in lower mountains; open sunny slopes
Typical location: White Rock Canyon

Adults are tailless with variable coloring from gray to orange to orange-brown on green to yellow-green with typically only a little white. There have been six closely related subspecies described with Callophrys affinis agama depicted here. Caterpillars each leaves and flowers. The chrysalids hibernate over winter.

Info    Photos   
Juniper Hairstreak

Photo: Jim P. Brock

Juniper Hairstreak

Photo: cyric

Juniper Hairstreak

Photo: Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station

Juniper Hairstreak

(Callophrys gryneus)

Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged Butterflies)
Size: 0.9 - 1.1 in (2 - 3 cm)
Color: green
Flits: Mar 15 - Oct 30

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from various flowers including milkweed, wild carrot, dogbane, butterflyweed, white sweet clover
Host: junipers
Habitat: fields, bluffs, open wooded areas

Small, green with rust and white bands across hindwings. There are many regional variations often considered subspecies. However, populations in the same area that live on different host plants, may look different. In addition, cross-breeding between subspecies in the area has been reported.

Info    Photos   
Spring Azure

Photo: Mark Rosenstein

Spring Azure

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Spring Azure

Photo: Nicky Davis

Spring Azure

(Celastrina ladon)

Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged Butterflies)
Size: 0.8 - 1.1 in (2 - 3 cm)
Color: blue
Flits: Mar 15, 2000 - Sep 30, 0000

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: flowering woody shrubs such as dogwood
Habitat: woodland areas particularly near openings and water

The Spring Azure is recognized as part of the “Spring Azure Complex” of small blue butterflies. The categorization of the different potential species and subspecies within the complex is still in dispute. Northern New Mexico has “spring azures” all spring and summer. These butterflies are most active from the middle of the afternoon until dusk. Their flight is week and usually low to the ground.

Info    Photos   
Western Tailed-Blue

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Western Tailed-Blue

Photo: Sally King

Western Tailed-Blue

Photo: Todd Stout

Western Tailed-Blue

(Cupido amyntula)

Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged Butterflies)
Size: 0.9 - 1.1 in (2 - 3 cm)
Color: blue
Flits: May 15 - Sep 01

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: locoweed, peavine, vetch
Habitat: open areas with low shrubs including meadows and open woodland

One of our smallest butterflies.

Info    Photos   
Reakirt's Blue

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Reakirt's Blue

Photo: Catherine Cook

Reakirt's Blue

Photo: Jim P. Brock

Reakirt's Blue

(Echinargus isola)

Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged Butterflies)
Size: 0.8 - 1.1 in (2 - 3 cm)
Color: blue, brown
Flits: Mar 01 - Oct 30

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar from a variety of herbs
Host: legumes
Habitat: fields, desert, weedy areas, creek sides

Underwing has a band of bold black spots rimmed with white. The base of the wing sports two black spots.

Info    Photos   
Silvery Blue

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Silvery Blue

Photo: Yvonne Keller

Silvery Blue

Photo: Nicky Davis

Silvery Blue

(Glaucopsyche lygdamus)

Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged Butterflies)
Size: 0.9 - 1.3 in (2 - 3 cm)
Color: blue, gray
Flits: Jun 01 - Aug 15

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from flowers including asters
Host: lupines, deervetch, clovers, other legumes
Habitat: variety of locations including open woods, road edges, rocky moist woods, and brushy fields

We have 10 species of blues. Silvery has rather plain undersides with a prominent row of dots parallel to the margins of the wings.

Info    Photos   
Marine Blue

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Marine Blue

Photo: Sally King

Marine Blue

Photo: Todd Stout

Marine Blue

(Leptotes marina)

Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged Butterflies)
Size: 0.9 - 1.1 in (2 - 3 cm)
Color: blue
Flits: May 01 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: legumes
Habitat: mesquite scrub, city gardens, desert

Small, migratory. Underwings have brown/white wavy stripes.

Info    Photos   
Purplish Copper

Photo: © Jim & Lynne Weber

Purplish Copper

Photo: Di

Purplish Copper

(Lycaena helloides)

Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged Butterflies)
Size: 1.1 - 1.5 in (3 - 4 cm)
Color: orange, purple
Flits: May 15 - Jul 15 and Aug 15 - Oct 01
Status: native; uncommon
Food source: flower nectar
Host: plants in the buckwheat and rose families
Habitat: along roadsides and open wet areas

Found throughout most of northern, western and central North America. Males are brown above with a tinge of purple that is refractive so than in bright sun it can appear much brighter (top photo). Females are orange above with strong, dark spots (bottom photo). May have up to two broods during the spring/summer. Overwinters as an egg.

Info    Photos   
Acmon Blue

Photo: Mary Carol Williams

Acmon Blue

Photo: Sally King

Acmon Blue

(Plebejus acmon, Icaricia acmon)

Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged Butterflies)
Size: 0.9 - 1.1 in (2 - 3 cm)
Color: blue, brown
Flits: May 01 - Oct 15

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: lupines, other members of the legume family
Habitat: alpine slopes, mountain meadows and slopes, prairies, rocky outcrops, chaparral, and sagebrush

Hindwings with bright orange merged dots. Males are blue; females are brown.

Info    Photos   
Arctic Blue

Photo: Yvonne Keller

Arctic Blue

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Arctic Blue

Photo: Todd Stout

Arctic Blue , High-mountain Blue, Glandon Blue

(Plebejus glandon, Plebejus aquilo)

Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged Butterflies)
Size: 0.9 - 1 in (2 - 3 cm)
Color: blue
Flits: Jun 01 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: shooting star, rock jasmine
Habitat: gravelly hills, alpine fields, and subalpine meadows

Black dots on hindwings; commas on upper wings. Female shows varying amounts of brown or grey.

Info    Photos   
Melissa Blue

Photo: Brad Smith

Melissa Blue

Photo: Brad Smith

Melissa Blue

Photo: Todd Stout

Melissa Blue, Orange-bordered Blue

(Plebejus melissa, Lycaeides melissa)

Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged Butterflies)
Size: 0.9 - 1.4 in (2 - 3 cm)
Color: blue, brown
Flits: May 01 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: legumes, alfalfa, lupine
Habitat: open, weedy areas

Wings have a white edge, thin black line, and faint orange wash on the underside. Has two broods, but only one at higher elevation. One of the most widespread blues.

Info    Photos   
Gray Hairstreak

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Gray Hairstreak

Photo: Sally King

Gray Hairstreak

Photo: Meganmccarthy

Gray Hairstreak

(Strymon melinus)

Family: Lycaenidae (Gossamer-winged Butterflies)
Size: 0.9 - 1.4 in (2 - 3 cm)
Color: gray
Flits: May 15 - Sep 01

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from many flowers including dogbane, milkweed, mint, goldenrod, and white sweet clover
Host: oaks, strawberries, legumes, mallows
Habitat: open sites, common in disturbed, weedy areas

Upper side blue-gray with large red spot near tail. Underside of spring/fall form is dark gray, summer form is paler gray.

Info    Photos   
Arizona Sister

Photo: Graham Mark

Arizona Sister

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Arizona Sister

Photo: Todd Stout

Arizona Sister

(Adelpha eulalia)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 3 - 5 in (8 - 13 cm)
Color: black
Flits: Jun 01, 2000 - Aug 31, 0000

Status: native; common
Food source: water and mud, rotting fruit, rarely nectar
Host: Gambel oak
Habitat: oak woodland, riparian canyons, mixed coniferous forests

Black with bright orange spots on upper wing tips. Formerly listed as California Sister.

Info    Photos   
Milbert's Tortoiseshell

Photo: Beth Cortright

Milbert's Tortoiseshell

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Milbert's Tortoiseshell

Photo: crgillette

Milbert's Tortoiseshell, Fire-rim tortoiseshell

(Aglais milberti, Nymphalis milberti)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 1.8 - 2 in (4 - 5 cm)
Color: black
Flits: May 15 - Oct 15

Status: native; common
Food source: usually nectar from flowers, such as thistles, goldenrods, and lilacs, probably also sap and rotting
Host: nettles
Habitat: wet areas near woodlands, moist pastures

Wide bright orange and cream band on outer wing margins. Upper elevations.

Info    Photos   
Small Wood Nymph

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Small Wood Nymph

Photo: Chick Keller

Small Wood Nymph

Photo: Todd Stout

Small Wood Nymph, Dark Wood Nymph

(Cercyonis oetus)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 1.5 - 1.9 in (4 - 5 cm)
Color: brown
Flits: Jun 01 - Aug 15

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: grasses
Habitat: dry chaparral, sagebrush, grasslands, scrub, open woodland, meadows

Two large eyespots on underside of forewings with the top eyespot larger than lower.

Info    Photos   
Silvery Checkerspot

Photo: Yvonne Keller

Silvery Checkerspot

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Silvery Checkerspot

Photo: summerazure

Silvery Checkerspot, Streamside Checkerspot, Nycteis crescent

(Chlosyne nycteis)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 1.4 - 2 in (3 - 5 cm)
Color: black, brown
Flits: Jun 01 - Aug 15

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from red clover, dogbane, and milkweed
Host: sunflower family
Habitat: streamsides, meadows, forest openings

Intensely patterned orange and black butterfly. Has silver dots on the upper hindwing marginal spots.

Info    Photos   
Common Ringlet

Photo: D. Gordon E. Robertson

Common Ringlet

Photo: Sally King

Common Ringlet, Ochre Ringlet, Large Heath

(Coenonympha tullia)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 1 - 1.9 in (3 - 5 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: May 15 - Aug 15

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: grasses
Habitat: Grassy areas in a wide variety of habitats, including fields, meadows, and grasslands

Flies low. Hindwing underside is gray. Flashes orange when flies.

Info    Photos   
Queen

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Queen

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Queen

Photo: John Herrick

Queen

(Danaus gilippus)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 3 - 23.4 in (8 - 59 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: May 01 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from flowers including milkweeds, fogfruit, and shepherd's needle
Host: milkweeds
Habitat: open, sunny areas including fields, deserts, roadsides, pastures, dunes, washes, and waterways

Queens in the southwest have pale veins on the upper side of the hindwings.

Info    Photos   
Variegated Fritillary

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Variegated Fritillary

Photo: jgrantz

Variegated Fritillary

Photo: Dave Govoni

Variegated Fritillary

(Euptoieta claudia)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 1.8 - 2.3 in (4 - 6 cm)
Color: orange, yellow
Flits: May 01 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from several plant species including butterflyweed, common milkweed, dogbane, peppermint, and clover
Host: violets, plantain, flax
Habitat: meadows and fields, grasslands, suburbs and towns

Dull brownish orange overall with flashes of bright orange under forewing when flying.

Info    Photos   
Weidemeyer's Admiral

Photo: Marion Stelts

Weidemeyer's Admiral

Photo: Sally King

Weidemeyer's Admiral

Photo: Jim P. Brock

Weidemeyer's Admiral

(Limenitis weidemeyerii, Basilarchia weidemeyerii)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 2.8 - 3.4 in (7 - 9 cm)
Color: black
Flits: Jun 01 - Aug 31

Status: native; common
Food source: tree sap, carrion, flower nectar
Host: willows, aspens, cottonwoods
Habitat: forest, streamsides in coniferous forests, aspen groves, small towns, suburbs

Black with wide V-shaped band across upper wings. Patrols trail and road clearings in forests. Will soar high among the trees but comes down to perch on trees, usually about 7 to 15 ft (2 to 4.5 m) above the ground.

Info    Photos   
Mourning Cloak

Photo: Sally King

Mourning Cloak

Photo: Jerry Oldnettel

Mourning Cloak

Photo: Wthrower

Mourning Cloak, Camberwell Beauty

(Nymphalis antiopa)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 2.9 - 2.4 in (7 - 6 cm)
Color: black, brown
Flits: Feb 01 - Nov 30

Status: native; common
Food source: tree sap, rotting sap, and occasionally flower nectar
Host: willows, cottonwoods, Siberian elm
Habitat: woods, openings, parks, and suburbs, especially near water

Velvety black with bright yellow band on upper hindwings.

Info    Photos   
Chryxus Arctic

Photo: © Bill Bouton

Chryxus Arctic

Photo: Sally King

Chryxus Arctic, Brown Arctic

(Oeneis chryxus, Oeneis strigulosa)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 1.8 - 2 in (4 - 5 cm)
Color: brown
Flits: May 15 - Sep 01

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: grasses, sedges
Habitat: open grassy, rocky, and woodland areas

Hindwing is a mottled dark brown with shades of white. Forewing is a lighter orange color and has a small eyespot.

Info    Photos   
Northern Crescent

Photo: Yvonne Keller

Northern Crescent

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Northern Crescent

(Phyciodes cocyta, Phyciodes selenis)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 1 - 1.5 in (3 - 4 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: Jun 01 - Jul 30

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from flowers of dogbane, fleabane, and white clover
Host: asters
Habitat: moist open areas in rocky places, wooded streams

Deep orange with black wing margins and frilly lines around body.

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Mylitta Crescent

Photo: Chick Keller

Mylitta Crescent

Photo: Donald Hobern

Mylitta Crescent

Photo: Todd Stuart

Mylitta Crescent

(Phyciodes mylitta)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 1.1 - 1.5 in (3 - 4 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: May 15 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: thistles
Habitat: fields, meadows, roads, vacant lots, parks

Flies low.

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Green Comma

Photo: Chick Keller

Green Comma

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Green Comma, Green Anglewing, Faunus Anglewing

(Polygonia faunus)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 1.8 - 2.5 in (4 - 6 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: Feb 01 - Dec 15

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar, dung, carrion
Host: willows, currants, alders
Habitat: forests, mountain streamsides, canyons

Wide dark bands and mid-wing spots on hindwings. Often seen on sunny days in winter.

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Hoary Comma

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Hoary Comma

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Hoary Comma

Photo: Nicky Davis

Hoary Comma

(Polygonia gracilis)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 1.4 - 1.6 in (3 - 4 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: Feb 01 - Dec 15

Status: native; common
Food source: sap and nectar from flowers of sweet everlasting among others
Host: currants, gooseberries
Habitat: from foothills to tree line, woodland streamsides, brushlands

Light band lacking a mid-wing spot on hindwings. Often seen on sunny days in winter.

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Satyr Comma

Photo: Chick Keller

Satyr Comma

Photo: Greg Lasley

Satyr Comma

Photo: Todd Stout

Satyr Comma

(Polygonia satyrus)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 1.8 - 2.5 in (4 - 6 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: Jun 01 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: tree sap and flower nectar
Host: various types of nettles
Habitat: wooded areas, field edges, and along water

The top of the wings is bright orange — both the forewing and hindwing have black spots. The underside of the wings is golden brown with a silver comma in the center of the hindwing. Adults can hibernate. Males are active in the late afternoon when looking for females. Females lay their eggs on the underside of needle leaves. The caterpillars no only eat the leaves but use them as a shelter.

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Northwestern Fritillary

Photo: Josip Loncaric

Northwestern Fritillary

Photo: Sally King

Northwestern Fritillary

(Speyeria hesperis)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 2 - 2.8 in (5 - 7 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: May 15 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from Gaillardia, rabbitbrush, purple mints, shrub cinquefoil, and others
Host: violets
Habitat: forest openings, meadows, and open hillsides

Formerly Atlantis Fritillary. A mid-size butterfly with silver spots on underwings and a dark shadow on upper forewings. We have three fritillaries that are hard to tell apart. Northwestern is the most common.

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West Coast Lady

Photo: Marc Bailey

West Coast Lady

Photo: Marc Bailey

West Coast Lady

Photo: Jim P. Brock

West Coast Lady

(Vanessa annabella)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 1.5 - 2.3 in (4 - 6 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: Jun 01 - Aug 31

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: flower nectar
Host: a variety of mallows
Habitat: gardens, fields, disturbed areas

Decked out in orange and brown and commonly known as one of the "painted ladies" in the area. It can be distinguished from the other two by the lack of obvious ventral eyespots.

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Red Admiral

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Red Admiral

Photo: Randy Snyder

Red Admiral

Photo: Todd Stout

Red Admiral

(Vanessa atalanta)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 2.3 - 3.3 in (6 - 8 cm)
Color: black, orange
Flits: Jun 01 - Aug 15

Status: native; common
Food source: prefers sap flows on trees, fermenting fruit, and bird droppings, nectar from milkweed, red clover,
Host: nettles, hops
Habitat: moist woods, yards, parks, marshes, seeps, moist fields

Brilliant red bands across forewings and hindwing margins.

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Painted Lady

Photo: Sally King

Painted Lady

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Painted Lady

Photo: MIRROR

Painted Lady, Cynthia Cardui

(Vanessa cardui)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 2 - 2.3 in (5 - 6 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: Mar 01 - Nov 15

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from composites, especially thistles, also aster, cosmos, red clover, buttonbush, privet, and
Host: thistles, mallow family including cheeseweed
Habitat: numerous sites, especially in open or disturbed soils including gardens, old fields

The most common of the three ladies. Innermost chevron on shoulder is white. Has four dots along base of hindwings.

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American Lady

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

American Lady

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

American Lady

Photo: Judy Gallagher

American Lady

(Vanessa virginiensis)

Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Size: 1.8 - 2.6 in (4 - 7 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: Jun 01 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from flower including dogbane, aster, goldenrod, marigold, milkweed, and vetch
Host: pearly everlasting, other plants of the sunflower family
Habitat: open places with low vegetation including parks, vacant lots, forest edges

Two large eyespots on upper hindwings.

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Pale Swallowtail

Photo: Earl Hoffman

Pale Swallowtail

Photo: © Kim Davis and Mike Stangeland

Pale Swallowtail

Photo: Todd Stout

Pale Swallowtail, Pallid Swallowtail

(Papilio eurymedon)

Family: Papiliondae (Swallowtails)
Size: 2.5 - 3.5 in (6 - 9 cm)
Color: white
Flits: May 15 - Sep 01

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: alders
Habitat: foothills, open woodlands, chaparral, streamsides

Similar to the Western Tiger Swallowtail but paler in color.

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Old World Swallowtail

Photo: Blaire Bradley

Old World Swallowtail

Photo: Blaire Bradley

Old World Swallowtail

Photo: Todd Stout

Old World Swallowtail, Baird's Old World Swallowtail

(Papilio machaon, Papilio machaon bairdii)

Family: Papiliondae (Swallowtails)
Size: 2.5 - 3 in (6 - 8 cm)
Color: black
Flits: Apr 15, 2000 - Sep 15, 0000

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: flower nectar
Host: sagebrush and others in the genus Artemisia
Habitat: grasslands, open meadows

Baird’s Old World Swallowtail is one of several subspecies of Papilio machaon. The distribution of the different subspecies is ill-defined. Baird’s is found throughout the western US with the black form shown here prevailing in the southern regions. The yellow form is predominate further north.

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Two-tailed Swallowtail

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Two-tailed Swallowtail

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Two-tailed Swallowtail

Photo: Whitney Cranshaw

Two-tailed Swallowtail

(Papilio multicaudata)

Family: Papiliondae (Swallowtails)
Size: 3.4 - 5.1 in (9 - 13 cm)
Color: yellow
Flits: May 01 - Aug 30

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from thistles, milkweeds, lilac and others
Host: chokecherry, hoptree
Habitat: foothill slopes and canyons, moist valleys, streamsides, woodlands, parks, roadsides, suburbs

Our largest permanent resident. Has two tails per hindwing, one very long. Upper wing black bars are thin so butterfly appears mostly yellow.

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Black Swallowtail

Photo: Yvonne Keller

Black Swallowtail

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Black Swallowtail

Photo: Earl Hoffman

Black Swallowtail, American Swallowtail, Parsnip Swallowtail

(Papilio polyxenes)

Family: Papiliondae (Swallowtails)
Size: 2.6 - 3.5 in (7 - 9 cm)
Color: black
Flits: Jun 01 - Aug 15

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from red clover, milkweed, and thistles
Host: parsley family
Habitat: variety of open areas including fields, suburbs, deserts, and roadsides

One of three local black swallowtails. Has rounded yellow dots along the band of upper side of forewings.

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Western Tiger Swallowtail

Photo: Brian Lee Clements

Western Tiger Swallowtail

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Western Tiger Swallowtail

Photo: Todd Stout

Western Tiger Swallowtail

(Papilio rutulus)

Family: Papiliondae (Swallowtails)
Size: 2.8 - 3.9 in (7 - 10 cm)
Color: yellow
Flits: May 01 - Aug 30

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from many flowers including thistles, abelia, and zinnia
Host: willows, aspens
Habitat: woodlands near rivers and streams, wooded suburbs, canyons, parks, roadsides, and oases

A large butterfly. Has two short tails per wing but the outer is not very long. Upper wing black bars are prominent.

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Southwestern Orangetip

Photo: Mouser Williams

Southwestern Orangetip

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Southwestern Orangetip

Photo: Todd Stout

Southwestern Orangetip

(Anthocharis thoosa, Anthocharis sara thoosa)

Family: Pieridae (Whites and Sulphurs)
Size: 1.3 - 1.6 in (3 - 4 cm)
Color: orange, white
Flits: Mar 26 - Jun 15

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: mustards
Habitat: open woodland, desert hills

This orangetip is our only white with orange markings.

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Orange Sulphur

Photo: Dan Mullen

Orange Sulphur

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Orange Sulphur

(Colias eurytheme)

Family: Pieridae (Whites and Sulphurs)
Size: 1.6 - 2.4 in (4 - 6 cm)
Color: yellow
Flits: May 01 - Nov 15

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from many kinds of flowers including dandelion, milkweeds, goldenrods, and asters
Host: clovers and other legumes
Habitat: wide variety of open sites, fields, meadows, road edges

A bright yellow butterfly with black bands around the upper sides of the wings. Rarely holds still.

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Dainty Sulphur

Photo: Megan McCarthy

Dainty Sulphur

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Dainty Sulphur

Photo: Todd Stuart

Dainty Sulphur

(Nathalis iole)

Family: Pieridae (Whites and Sulphurs)
Size: 0.8 - 1.1 in (2 - 3 cm)
Color: yellow
Flits: May 15 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from asters, wild marigold, rabbitbush, and others
Host: sneezeweed, garden marigolds, chickweed
Habitat: open, dry places including weedy fields, grasslands, road edges, meadows, and hillsides

Flies low. Underside of hindwing is green/gray.

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Pine White

Photo: Earl Hoffman

Pine White

Photo: Sally King

Pine White

Photo: Jim P. Brock

Pine White

(Neophasia menapia)

Family: Pieridae (Whites and Sulphurs)
Size: 1.8 - 2 in (4 - 5 cm)
Color: white
Flits: May 13 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from rabbitbrush and other yellow-flowered composites
Host: pines
Habitat: coniferous forests

Flies high in a manner like it has a broken wing.

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Cabbage White

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Cabbage White

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

Cabbage White

Photo: Todd Stout

Cabbage White, White Cabbage Butterfly

(Pieris rapae, Artogeia rapae)

Family: Pieridae (Whites and Sulphurs)
Size: 1.3 - 1.9 in (3 - 5 cm)
Color: white
Flits: May 01 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from a very wide array of plants including mustards, dandelion, red clover, asters, and mints
Host: members of the cabbage family
Habitat: many types of open space including weedy areas, roadsides, cities, and suburbs

A serious agricultural pest.

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Checkered White

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Checkered White

Photo: Marion Stelts

Checkered White

Photo: Todd Stout

Checkered White

(Pontia protodice)

Family: Pieridae (Whites and Sulphurs)
Size: 1.5 - 2.5 in (4 - 6 cm)
Color: white
Flits: May 01 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from mustards and composites
Host: beeweed, members of the cabbage family
Habitat: dry weedy areas, vacant lots, fields, pastures, sandy areas, railroad beds, and roads

Seen throughout the area. Our most common white.

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Plume Moth

Photo: Chick Keller

Plume Moth

Photo: Siobhan Niklasson

Plume Moth

Photo: Joel DuBois

Plume Moth, Pterophorid Moth

(numerous species in several genera)

Family: Pterophoridae (Plume Moths)
Size: 0.5 - 1.6 in (1 - 4 cm)
Color: brown
Flits: Mar 01 - Nov 30

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: nectar and pollen
Host: large variety of plants including many from the sunflower family
Habitat: on flowers during the day; at light sources during dark

Plume Moths tend to have muted colors but be very distinctive. They have thin, long wings which are held at a 90-degree angle from the body, long thin abdomen, and extremely long legs. When resting, the wings are usually held in a tight roll but can be spread in such a way as to show off feathery plumes giving the Pterophoridaefamily its common name. These moths are weak and fluttery in flight. There are over 150 different named species of Plume Moth in the US. Many of these are fairly similar making it very hard to distinguish from one another.

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Nais Metalmark

Photo: Jerry Oldenettel

Nais Metalmark

Photo: Sally King

Nais Metalmark

(Apodemia nais)

Family: Riodinidae (Metalmarks)
Size: 1.1 - 1.5 in (3 - 4 cm)
Color: orange
Flits: Jun 01 - Jul 31

Status: native; common
Food source: flower nectar
Host: buckbrush
Habitat: open pine forest, streamsides

Upperside is checkered with dark brown and orange-brown; underside gray with scattered black spots

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Rocky Mountain Agapema

Photo: © Jim & Lynne Weber

Rocky Mountain Agapema

Photo: © Jim & Lynne Weber

Rocky Mountain Agapema

Photo: © Roger Wasley

Rocky Mountain Agapema

(Agapema homogena)

Family: Saturniidae (Giant Silkworm Moths)
Size: 2.9 - 3.9 in (7 - 10 cm)
Color: gray
Flits: May 15 - Jul 30

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: adults do not feed
Host: buckthorns, willows and currants
Habitat: wooded areas above 4,400 ft (1,300 m)

This Silkmoth is gray to black with white markings and eyespots. Adults are nocturnal. Eggs are deposited in clusters and the larvae feed in groups upon hatching. Once the caterpillars reach their last stage, they form cocoons in crevices around rocks and tree trunks.

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Polyphemus Moth

Photo: Garth Tietjen

Polyphemus Moth

Photo: Pat Bacha

Polyphemus Moth

Photo: Una Smith

Polyphemus Moth

(Antheraea polyphemus)

Family: Saturniidae (Giant Silkworm Moths)
Size: 3.5 - 5.5 in (9 - 14 cm)
Color: black, brown
Flits: May 15 - Jul 31

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: adults do not eat
Host: variety of trees including oak, willow and maple
Habitat: deciduous forests and parks

This is one of the largest moths in the US. It was named for the Greek cyclops, Polyphemus, due to the prominent eye spot on each wing. The caterpillars are solitary and if threatened they can rear up the front part of their body as well as make a clicking noise.

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Glover's Silkmoth

Photo: Garth Tietjen

Glover's Silkmoth

Photo: Beth Cortright

Glover's Silkmoth

Photo: Don Ehlen

Glover's Silkmoth, Columbia Silkmoth

(Hyalophora columbia, Hyalophora gloveri)

Family: Saturniidae (Giant Silkworm Moths)
Size: 3.1 - 3.9 in (8 - 10 cm)
Color: gray, orange
Flits: Apr 01 - Jul 15

Status: native; uncommon
Food source: adults do not feed
Host: a variety of trees and shrubs, with the most common being cherry, rose, willow and olive
Habitat: areas with wet soil

Once considered a separate species now treated as a subspecies of the Columbia Silkmoth. Adults only survive for a short period of time during which time they are actively involved in mating, often in the early morning hours. Young caterpillars are susceptible to being parasitized by several different species of wasps and flies.

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Achemon Sphinx

Photo: Angelique Harshman

Achemon Sphinx

Photo: J. N. Stuart

Achemon Sphinx

Photo: Johnida Dockens

Achemon Sphinx

(Eumorpha achemon)

Family: Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths and Hawkmoths)
Size: 3.4 - 3.8 in (9 - 10 cm)
Color: brown, pink
Flits: Jun 01 - Jul 31

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from flowers such as Jimpson weed and four o’clocks
Host: various vines and ivies
Habitat: wooded and scrubby habitats and inhabited areas

The adults usually only fly at night flitting between plants with fragrant flowers and long long flora tubes. They use their very long tongues to reach the nectar in the bottom of these flowers. There are three different colored forms of larvae: light green, reddish orange, and tan to brown. The larvae can often be seen in vineyards feeding on the vine leaves.

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White-lined Sphinx

Photo: Selvi Viswanathan

White-lined Sphinx

Photo: Larry Lamsa

White-lined Sphinx

Photo: Joseph Berger

White-lined Sphinx, Hummingbird Moth

(Hyles lineata)

Family: Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths and Hawkmoths)
Size: 2 - 3 in (5 - 8 cm)
Color: black, brown, pink, white
Flits: Jun 01 - Sep 30

Status: native; common
Food source: nectar from a variety of flowers including columbines, larkspurs, clovers, thistles and Jimson weed
Host: large range of trees and shrubs
Habitat: areas with flowers in full bloom

The White-lined Sphinx, as well as several other species, go by the nickname of “Hummingbird Moth” due to their rapid wing movement that resembles a hummingbird in flight. The adults primarily feed from dusk to dawn but occasionally can be seen during daylight hours. Although several generations of this moth may occur in a year, typically they are most obvious during July and August. Periodic population buildups occur stimulating emigrations to colonize new areas. Larvae can vary in color from yellow and black to lime green and black. When larvae are ready to pupate, they burrow into the soil and stay there for about three weeks before emerging as adults.

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Western Popular Sphinx

Photo: Chick Keller

Western Popular Sphinx

Photo: H. Trudell

Western Popular Sphinx

Photo: jnewt83

Western Popular Sphinx, Big Popular Sphinx

(Pachysphinx occidentalis)

Family: Sphingidae (Sphinx Moths and Hawkmoths)
Size: 5.2 - 5.8 in (13 - 15 cm)
Color: brown, yellow
Flits: May 15 - Sep 01

Status: native; common
Food source: adults do not feed
Host: cottonwood, poplar, and willow
Habitat: suburban and riparian areas

There are two colors forms of the Western Popular Sphinx, a pale form with yellow brown forewings and a dark form that is more gray. There is a touch of crimson on the upper-side of the hind wings along with two distinctive dark lines. Females lay their eggs on the leaves of Populus and Salix tree species. The fully-grown caterpillars spend the winter in the ground in a shallow hole as pupa.

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