Oregon is known for its relaxed and chill culture where everyone is welcome, in addition to stunning mountain and coastal landscapes. Butterflies in Oregon are another beautiful part of the scenery and it boasts several unique species like Leona’s Little Blue Butterfly, which is found only in a small part of the state. We have curated a list of 11 of Oregon’s most captivating butterflies. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
11 Butterflies in Oregon
1. Hoffman’s Checkerspot
Scientific name: Chlosyne hoffmani
Hoffman’s Checkerspot is found throughout Oregon. It’s unique in the way it lays its eggs in clumps, and when larvae hatch they feed together in webs made of silk.
These butterflies come in fall shades of orange and brown and are known to host on asters. Adults feed on the nectar from a wide variety of flowers.
If you have a butterfly garden or are planning one, nothing special needs to be added for this species as they will likely show up for most common flowering plants.
2. Green Comma
Scientific name: Polygonia faunus
These unique butterflies have wings that appear almost jagged. Their color varies from a dirty orange to brown. It is named after a white mark on the underside of their wings that looks similar to a comma.
The range on the Green Comma is rather strange with 4 distinct populations. Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, including Oregon, the Midwest, and the Northeast.
These butterflies lay their eggs on a variety of host plants and adults feed on dung, carrion, and nectar.
3. Northwestern Fritillary
Scientific name: Speyeria hesperis
These brownish-orange butterflies are highly variable in color and pattern. Found throughout California and Oregon, they are usually seen in open spaces like meadows and forest clearings.
Northwestern Fritillary host on violets and adults feed on the nectar from rabbitbrush, purple mint, and several others. If you happen to spot one of these butterflies while out walking or hiking, be sure to move slowly as they can be quite shy.
Scientific name: Danaus plexippus
You can’t have a list of butterflies without including America’s Sweetheart of butterflies, the Monarch. These stunning orange and black butterflies are known for migrating thousands of miles each year from their home range to Mexico where they reproduce and then die. Their babies then hatch in the spring and somehow know where to migrate back to.
If you want to attract Monarchs to your yard, you need to add native milkweed plants to your garden. The adults will feed on the flowers and lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves, and the caterpillars will feed on the plant.
Eating milkweed makes these butterflies and caterpillars taste bitter, so many predators avoid eating them.
5. Mountain Parnassian
Scientific name: Parnassius smintheus
The Mountain Parnassian, also known as the Rocky Mountain Apollo, is an unassuming, mostly white butterfly. They do have some black markings on their wings, and two small orange spots.
Found in and around the Rocky Mountains, these butterflies are quite prevalent in most of Oregon. These butterflies undergo hibernation while still in their eggs and then hatch out in the spring where they feed on their stonecrop hosts.
6. Oregon Swallowtail
Scientific name: Papilio machaon oregonius
When coming up with a list of butterflies in Oregon, we could hardly skip over the state’s official insect. These butterflies are well-loved in their home state, even appearing on postage stamps.
Resembling the Eastern Swallowtail, this butterfly has evolved to host on tarragon and dragon wormwood. Adults feed on various flower nectar and should be easily enticed into the backyard garden with purple sage of phlox.
7. Cabbage White
Scientific name: Pieris rapae
This invasive butterfly species is unfortunately well established in Oregon. It hosts on Cabbages and other vegetable plants where its caterpillars can do an enormous amount of damage in a short time.
If you have a vegetable garden, you will want to keep an eye out for their caterpillars, which are usually yellow with black dots and white hair but can also be green. If you want your garden to be organic, you can manually remove the larvae or use nematodes to control their populations.
8. Blue Copper
Scientific name: Tharsalea heteronea
These butterflies are sexually dimorphic, with males being a soothing baby blue color and females a light beige. They are quite small at just over an inch and are quite common in Oregon and other western states.
Blue Copper butterflies host on wild buckwheat and adults will drink the nectar from buckwheat flowers and other wildflowers.
9. Western Green Hairstreak
Scientific name: Callophrys affinis
Another tiny butterfly is the Western Green Hairstreak. This little species measures just over an inch but is eye-catching with its variable green wings.
These butterflies are historically found all over Oregon, but numbers have declined in recent years and they are now only found in small pockets of the state. These butterflies have a variety of hosts but are mainly found in wooded areas where adults feed on flower nectar.
10. Arctic Skipper
Scientific name: Carterocephalus skada
Arctic Skippers are small copper and orange butterflies that are found primarily in meadows. Found throughout the state of Oregon, they host in grasses where larvae will build a nest of silk amongst the leaves of the plants.
It is here that the larvae will hibernate before metamorphosizing in spring. As adults, these butterflies feed strictly on flower nectar but are not picky about which flowers they visit.
11. Leona’s Little Blue
Scientific name: Philotiella leona
This incredibly small butterfly is found in an equally small part of the world. Calling just 6 square miles in Klamath county, Oregon home, this butterfly is at great risk of extinction.
These butterflies max out at an inch in size, but are often smaller. Males have a light blue sheen on the top of their wings while females are a whitish-gray. Both have black spots on the undersides of their wings.
Leona’s Little Blue Butterflies host in buckwheat plants and the adults feed on the nectar of the same plants. These little butterflies are not currently protected even though they number less than 2000 and their range is almost entirely on private land.