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11 Common Butterflies in Ohio (With Pictures)

Although we often think of butterflies living in desert landscapes, there’s no shortage of these insects in Ohio. With more than 140 species of butterflies in Ohio, you’re bound to see a variety of species when traveling around the state. These butterflies play a massive role in pollination, so you may even spot some in your own backyard!

11 Common Butterflies in Ohio

This article will walk through 11 of the most common butterflies in Ohio. The following species are most likely to be seen in and around your gardens, so keep an eye out for them.

1. Viceroy

Viceroy butterfly
Viceroy butterfly | Image by Terry Murphy from Pixabay

Scientific name: Limenitis archippus

You’ll most commonly find the viceroys in willow thickets, wet meadows, and around the edges of swampy lands. These butterflies will often lay eggs on the tips of leaves in these regions.

The viceroy looks very similar to the monarch in appearance. To differentiate, you’ll need to look at the hindwing to check for a black line and white dots inside the banding.

Although the viceroy is disappearing in many states, they have a healthy population in Ohio and are not uncommon to spot.

2. Painted Lady

Painted lady butterfly on a flower
Painted lady butterfly on a flower | Image by Vikramjit Kakati from Pixabay

Scientific name: Vanessa cardui

The painted lady butterfly is widely distributed around the world. Butterfly enthusiasts can spot their yellow, black, and white wings on every continent besides Australia and Antarctica. If you’re hoping to see one of these insects, check one of their favorite plants:

  • Bee Balm
  • Goldenrod
  • Asters
  • Phlox
  • Liatris

This butterfly has both white and black spots on the outer edges of the wing, making them easier to identify.

3. Spicebush Swallowtail

Spicebush swallowtail on a flower
Spicebush swallowtail on a flower | image by John Flannery via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Scientific name: Papilio troilus

The spicebush swallowtail often goes by the name Green-Clouded butterfly. You’ll commonly find them flying low to the ground and landing on plants like milkweed, purple coneflower, and butterfly weed.

You’ll best be able to identify them by looking for the blue and yellow markings on the lower edge of the otherwise black wing.

4. Eastern Black Swallowtail

Eastern black swallowtail
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly on pink flower | image by C Watts via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Papilio polyxenes

The eastern black swallowtail is by no means the most loved butterfly since it commonly will eat through gardens of parsley and carrot. This yellow and black butterfly can also be seen on milkweed and butterfly weed.

If you’re looking for an eastern black swallowtail, look for the pale-yellow wings with black tips. Thin black veins run down the pale-yellow wing as well.

5. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern tiger swallowtail on plants
Eastern tiger swallowtail on plants | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Papilio glaucus

The eastern tiger swallowtail has beautiful wings and was the first-ever North American butterfly species in 1587. The orange wings have black veins running throughout and a thick black band covering the edges of the wings. The black bands have white dots throughout, making a gorgeously patterned wing.

This species is also common to find dwelling on butterfly weed, milkweed, and bee balm.

6. Monarch

Monarch butterfly
Monarch butterfly

Scientific name: Danaus plexippus

Spotting a monarch in Ohio is easy as long as you’re aware of their migration pattern. The butterflies follow the same route yearly and, once landed in the United States, can be seen in large groupings. You’ll most commonly find monarchs near milkweed, butterfly weed, and joe-pye weed.

You may also like:  13 Species of Turtles You Can Find in Iowa

7. Clouded Sulphur

Clouded sulphur
Clouded sulphur by ALAN SCHMIERER via Flickr

Scientific name: Colias philodice

The clouded sulphur butterfly is relatively common throughout Ohio and can be found in a variety of habitats. You’ll see these bright yellow insects in open fields, alfalfa and clover fields, meadows, and maybe even on your own lawn! While this butterfly is all yellow, they have some distinct darker mustard yellow spots along the outer edge of their wings.

8. Orange Sulphur

Orange sulphur butterfly
Orange sulphur butterfly | image by ALAN SCHMIERER via Flickr

Scientific name: Colias eurytheme

The Orange sulphur butterflies are also abundant in Ohio and can be challenging to tell apart from their cousins, the clouded sulphur. The main giveaway is the orange sulphur generally has more of an orange hint rather than being solely yellow.

So, if you see an orange glow on the wing, it’s likely an orange sulphur. These butterflies can be seen from March to December in Ohio.

9. Common Buckeye

Common buckeye butterfly
Common buckeye butterfly | Image by Brett Hondow from Pixabay

Scientific name: Junonia coenia

This species is a state favorite due to its name relation to The Ohio State’s mascot, the buckeye. This common butterfly is most often seen in sunny open habitats, and its wings are primarily brown with two eyespots and two orange bars.

Some of their favorite plants include:

This species does winter in the United States; however, not as far north as Ohio. Therefore, the best time to spot the common buckeye is during the summer and fall months.

10. American Copper

American copper butterfly
American copper butterfly | Image by Pete from Pixabay

Scientific name: Lycaena phlaeas

The American copper is one of the widest-ranging and most popular butterflies in the United States. This species can be found in almost every state and adapts well to a variety of habitats. You’re most likely to see the American coppers in fields, meadows, pastures, and even roadside in Ohio.

This butterfly is bright orange with a brown hindwing. The hindwing has orange accents along the bottom edge.

11. Falcate Orangetip

Falcate Orangetip
Falcate orangetip | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Anthocharis midea

The falcate orangetip is common in specific areas of Ohio during the springtime. You’re most likely to find this species around early mustard plants, as they utilize mustards as hosts for laying their eggs and nectar. This unique-looking butterfly generally prefers wooded habitats.

When looking for this species, keep an eye out for their bright orange wingtip. The bottom of the wings are white with a black marbling pattern, while the top of the wings are primarily white. The orange wing tip is only seen on the top of the butterfly, and therefore, the insect must have its wings open to spot the accent color. The body of this butterfly is generally pretty hairy, making it even more unique in appearance.

Conclusion

If you’re a butterfly lover, Ohio is a great state to spot some of these more common species. Remember that you’re most likely to see these insects during the summer and fall months as Ohio can get quite cold during the winter months.

With such ranging habitats, be sure to explore a wide variety of landscapes to check all eleven of these butterflies off your list!

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