Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 13 results
Media
Photo of a Black Swallowtail, Male, Wings Spread
Species Types
Scientific Name
Papilio polyxenes
Description
Most gardeners meet the black swallowtail sooner or later, because parsley, carrot, fennel, and dill are favorite food plants of the caterpillars.
Media
Several regal fritillaries feeding on butterfly weed
Species Types
Scientific Name
More than 700 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Learn about butterflies and skippers as a group. What makes a butterfly a butterfly? How are they different from moths? What are the major groups of butterflies?
Media
Common buckeye butterfly nectaring on a flower, wings spread
Species Types
Scientific Name
Junonia coenia
Description
The common buckeye is one of Missouri’s prettiest butterflies, but it doesn’t overwinter here. Instead, migrants arrive in late spring and early summer.
Media
Photo of an Eastern Tailed-Blue
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cupido comyntas
Description
You can find the eastern tailed-blue in Missouri in prairies, fields, vacant lots, and yards — virtually any open, sunny place.
Media
Photo of an eastern tiger swallowtail resting with wings spread open
Species Types
Scientific Name
Papilio glaucus
Description
The beautiful eastern tiger swallowtail ranges across Missouri and is equally at home in forests or in city landscapes.
Media
Photo of a gray copper butterfly nectaring on butterfly weed flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lycaena dione (formerly Gaeides xanthoides dione)
Description
The gray copper is locally common in the western half of Missouri, where it flies in June and July. Look for it in moist, grassy, open areas during those months.
Media
Photo of a Pipevine Swallowtail, Wings Spread
Species Types
Scientific Name
Battus philenor
Description
The pipevine swallowtail is ignored by most predators because of its acrid body juices. Several other butterflies benefit by looking strikingly similar.
Media
Photo of a red-banded hairstreak
Species Types
Scientific Name
Calycopis cecrops
Description
The red-banded hairstreak has a unique pattern of white, black, and red-orange bands on the underside hindwing. It is most common in the Ozarks.
Media
Photo of a Red-Spotted Purple with wings closed, showing ventral side of wings
Species Types
Scientific Name
Limenitis arthemis
Description
The red-spotted purple is a stunning butterfly, even though the spots are really orange, not red, and blue is more prominent than the subtle violet hues.
Media
Photo of a Spicebush Swallowtail, Male, Wings Spread
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pterourus troilus
Description
Spicebush swallowtails are beautiful large black butterflies with beautiful iridescent blue-green on the hindwings. The caterpillars eat the leaves of sassafras and spicebush.
See Also
Media
image of Caddisfly on leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 1,500 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Adult caddisflies are mothlike. Their larvae are aquatic and build portable, protective cases out of local materials, including grains of sand, bits of leaves and twigs, and other debris.
Media
Photo of eastern dobsonfly
Species Types
Scientific Name
Corydalus cornutus
Description
Adult eastern dobsonflies are huge and mothlike, with large wings and a weak, fluttery flight. The fiercely predaceous aquatic larvae, called hellgrammites, are well-known to anglers, who often use them as bait.

About Butterflies and Moths in Missouri

Butterflies, skippers, and moths belong to an insect order called the Lepidoptera — the "scale-winged" insects. These living jewels have tiny, overlapping scales that cover their wings like shingles. The scales, whether muted or colorful, seem dusty if they rub off on your fingers. Many butterflies and moths are associated with particular types of food plants, which their caterpillars must eat in order to survive.