Field Guide

Butterflies and Moths

Showing 1 - 10 of 49 results
Media
image of a Clouded Sulphur on a wildflower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Colias philodice
Description
The clouded sulphur is one of our most common butterflies, flying low over fields and lawns, from late March into December.
Media
Bronze copper butterfly perched on a grass blade, wings closed
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lycaena hyllus (syn. Hyllolycaena hyllus; Lycaena thoe)
Description
The bronze copper occurs in localized colonies in throughout northern and western Missouri. Look for it May through October in wet, open, grassy areas.
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 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
Coral hairstreak butterfly on butterfly weed flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Satyrium titus (syn. Harkenclenus titus)
Description
The coral hairstreak is the only Missouri hairstreak lacking hindwing “tails” and without a blue spot on the outer hindwing edge.
Media
Photo of a Summer Azure
Species Types
Scientific Name
Celastrina neglecta
Description
Formerly considered the same species as the spring azure, the summer azure can be identified, in large part, by the season when you see it.
Media
Photo of a southern dogface taking nectar on a pale purple coneflower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Zerene cesonia (formerly Colias cesonia)
Description
The southern dogface has a dog’s head pictured on its yellow forewings. It repopulates our state each year from the south.
Media
Photo of a little yellow nectaring on a native aster flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pyrisitia lisa (syn. Eurema lisa)
Description
The little yellow is just what the name says it is. The lower side is yellow with a few spots, including two tiny black spots on the basal hindwing and, often, a larger rusty spot on the hindwing margin.
Media
Photo of a dainty sulphur perched on a dried flower, side view
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nathalis iole
Description
Each year, dainty sulphurs arrive in Missouri from regions to our south. They are small compared to other sulphur butterflies. The wingspan of the largest individuals reaches only about 1¼ inches.
Media
Photo of an Orange Sulphur taking nectar from a flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Colias eurytheme
Description
One of the most common butterflies in Missouri, the orange sulphur often gathers in numbers in moist places.
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.