12 Common Butterflies in Texas (With Pictures)

Texas, with its warm climate and abundance of wildflowers, is a true paradise for butterflies. In this article, Wildlife Informer introduces readers to 12 of the most common butterflies found in Texas. From the American Lady with its striking orange wings to the majestic Giant Swallowtail, these beautiful creatures can be spotted throughout the state, delighting nature enthusiasts and gardeners alike. Learn about their unique characteristics, preferred habitats, and favorite food sources. So, grab your camera and get ready to explore the mesmerizing world of butterflies in Texas!

Common Butterflies in Texas

Texas is home to a wide variety of butterflies, thanks to its warm climate and abundance of wildflowers. Butterfly enthusiasts across the state can enjoy spotting these beautiful creatures throughout the year. In this article, we will explore some of the most common butterflies found in Texas.

American Lady

Scientific Name: Vanessa virginiensis

The American Lady butterfly is often mistaken for the Monarch due to its similar orange and black coloration. However, the American Lady has mostly solid orange wings with dark brown to black near the edges, and two eyespots on the underside of its hind wings. This species can be found in most parts of Texas, although they migrate south for the winter. Therefore, in some northern parts of the state, they may only be present during the summer months. American Lady caterpillars prefer sunflowers, asters, and pussytoes, while adults are attracted to a variety of flowers.

Black Swallowtail

Scientific Name: Papilio polyxenes

The Black Swallowtail is a large butterfly with a wingspan of over 4 inches. It has a deep black color with yellow spots along the trailing edges of its wings. Males have swept-back wings with rounded fronts, while females have forward-angled wings with blue markings on the hind wings. The caterpillars of this species feed on dill, carrots, fennel, parsley, and celery, making them commonly found in herb gardens. Adults can be seen in both urban and rural areas of Texas, as they are attracted to milkweed, clover, and thistles.

Desert Marble

Scientific Name: Euchloe lotta

The Desert Marble butterfly is a small species commonly found in the Western US. However, in Texas, they are primarily found in far West Texas in the Chihuahua desert. The undersides of their wings are white with green marbling, while the topsides are nearly solid white with a few black markings. Caterpillars of this species prefer plants in the mustard family, while adults have a less specific food preference.

Giant Swallowtail

Scientific Name: Papilio cresphontes

The Giant Swallowtail is the largest butterfly in North America, with a wingspan that can reach up to 6 inches. It has dark brown/black wings with yellow markings, making it easily distinguishable. This species is mainly found in East Texas, with fewer sightings in Central and North Texas. Giant Swallowtails prefer wooded areas and are less likely to be seen in open spaces. As adults, they feed on lantana, zinnias, and milkweed, making them a common sight in residential gardens.

Hackberry Emperor

Scientific Name: Asterocampa celtis

The Hackberry Emperor butterfly is olive brown or gray brown with dark spots. It can be found in most central and east Texas. The caterpillars of this species live and feed on hackberry trees, hence the name. However, as adults, they drink nectar from a variety of flowers. Hackberry Emperors are commonly seen in city parks and residential gardens.

Mexican Bluewing

Scientific Name: Myscelia ethusa

The Mexican Bluewing butterfly has a dull brown coloration when its wings are folded, making it resemble a dead leaf. However, when its wings are open, the top side is brilliant, iridescent blue striped with black. This species is only found in the Rio Grande valley of Texas, along the border with Mexico. Mexican Bluewings have a unique food preference, as they prefer rotting fruit over flowers, making them somewhat challenging to attract to butterfly gardens.

Monarch Butterfly

Scientific Name: Danaus plexippus

The Monarch butterfly is the most well-known and easily recognizable butterfly in North America. It is famous for its striking orange and black wings, its incredible migrations, and its close association with milkweed plants. Monarchs spend their winters in Central Mexico and migrate up to 3,000 miles to spend the summer all over North America. Texas is a prime location to spot Monarchs during their fall or spring migration. Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed, which makes them mildly toxic as adults. This toxicity discourages most predators from eating them. Monarchs can be easily spotted in Texas as they pass through the state.

Painted Lady

Scientific Name: Vanessa cardui

The Painted Lady butterfly is similar in appearance to the American Lady but can be distinguished by its four eyespots, compared to the American Lady’s two. This species can be found all over Texas, although they typically migrate south into Mexico for the winter. Painted Lady caterpillars feed on thistles, mallow, and legumes, while adults are attracted to the nectar of thistles, clover, and asters.

Pale Swallowtail

Scientific Name: Papilio eurymedon

The Pale Swallowtail butterfly is a large, cream-colored species with elegant black stripes on its wings. It can be found throughout much of Texas, especially in the Panhandle and West Texas. This species prefers to feed on trees rather than wildflowers, so the best chance of spotting them is in heavily wooded areas, including neighborhoods with mature trees.

Texan Crescent

Scientific Name: Anthanassa texana

The Texan Crescent butterfly has an orange and brown coloration with white spots. The orange is usually closer to the body, while the wingtips tend to be brown. The underside of its wings is paler compared to the top side. Texan Crescents can be found in all parts of Texas. Caterpillars of this species feed on acanthus, ruellia, shrimp plant, and water willow. Adults are attracted to the nectar of various flowers and are frequently seen in residential gardens and city parks.

Tiger Swallowtail

Scientific Name: Papilio glaucus

The Tiger Swallowtail is a large and beautiful butterfly with distinctive tiger stripes on its wings. Males are always yellow, while females can be yellow or black. Females also usually have some blue on their hind wings, unlike males. Tiger Swallowtails feed on a wide variety of flowers and are drawn to woodlands and mud puddles. They can be found throughout Texas and are often seen in residential gardens and city parks.

Tropical Buckeye

Scientific Name: Junonia evarete

The Tropical Buckeye butterfly is mostly a uniform brown color with eight large eyespots on its wings. In Texas, this species is primarily found in warm and humid South Texas. They prefer open fields and lowlands, which are abundant in southern Texas. Adults of this species are attracted to a wide variety of flowers, making it easy to attract them to your garden by planting native flower species.

In conclusion, Texas offers a diverse array of butterfly species, and spotting them can be a rewarding experience. Whether you’re a seasoned butterfly enthusiast or just starting to explore the world of butterflies, Texas provides ample opportunities to observe and appreciate these beautiful creatures in their natural habitats. So, grab your binoculars and head out to explore the vibrant world of butterflies in the Lone Star State!

Nature Blog Network

NatureBlogNetwork.com is the leading birding research and information website. Serving the birding community since 2010.

Recent Posts