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Butterfly Guide

Butterflies come in a variety of sizes, colors and shapes. From the large swallowtail butterflies to the tiny skippers, these winged wonders are truly a sight to behold. As you walk the path, see how many species of butterfly you can find. Use this guide to help distinguish between the many different butterfly species and their host plants while you explore in the parks.

American Lady
Photo: Judy Gallagher, Flickr

American Lady caterpillars have black spikes with stripes of yellow between bands of black, red and white spots.


Photo: Jim Morefield, Flickr
American Lady caterpillars’ diet consists of Pearly Everlasting (pictured above), Burdock, Silver Brocade and Sweet Everlasting plants.
Photo: Road Travel America, Flickr
There are no visible differences between the male and female American Lady Butterflies. Their wings have intricate patterns of orange, brown and white markings.
Photo: Metroparks
Once a butterfly, the American Lady’s diet shifts to Black-eyed Susan (pictured above), Butterfly Bush, Aster and Goldenrod.
Question Mark
Judy Gallagher, Flickr
The Question Mark caterpillar is dark brown with tan lines, white speckles and dark orange spikes.
Photo: Shutterstock
The caterpillar’s diet consists of Sugarberry (pictured above), Hackberry, Elm and Hops.
Andy Reago + Chrissy McClarren, Flickr
Jim the Photographer, Flickr
The Question Mark Butterfly’s underside is a light brown color and the upper-side features orange and dark brown markings.
Jordan Meeter, Flickr
The butterfly’s diet includes Purple Coneflower (pictured above), Milkweed, Sweet Pepperbush and Aster.
Black Swallowtail
USFWS Midwest Region, Flickr
Black Swallowtail caterpillars have a green body with bands of black stripes and yellow dots.
Jordan Meeter, Flickr
The Black Swallowtail caterpillar’s diet consists of Dill, Carrot, Queen Anne’s Lace (pictured above) and Parsley.
Dwight Sipler. Flickr
Male Black Swallowtail butterflies have more extensive bands of yellow spots on their upper-side while females have less yellow and more blue markings than the male
Photo: Shutterstock
Black Swallowtail butterflies enjoy New England Aster, Thistle (pictured above), Zinnia, and Purple Coneflower.
Red Admiral
Photo: Benny Mazur, Flickr
Red Admiral caterpillars are dark brown and covered in yellow spikes with tan patches along their sides.
Photo: Melissa McMasters, Flickr
Red Admiral caterpillars eat Wood Nettle (pictured above), Pennsylvania Pellitory, Mamaki, and False Nettle.
Photo: James Johnstone, Flickr
Butterflies have two very different appearances: the upper-side of their wings has large patches of brown, black, white and orange and the colors are very bold while the underside of their wings has more intricate markings and the colors are muted.
Photo: Shutterstock
Red Admiral butterflies’ diet consists of Butterfly Weed, Milkweed, Purple Coneflowers and Lilacs (pictured above).
Eastern Comma
Photo: Judy Gallagher, Flickr
Caterpillars are dark brown with a strip of light yellow markings and spikes along their body.
Photo: Melissa McMasters, Flickr
The Eastern Comma caterpillar’s diet consists of False Nettle (pictured above), Elm, Hops and Wood Nettle.
Photo: Steven Pisano, Flickr
Photo: Judy Gallagher, Flickr
The under-side of the Eastern Comma butterfly is entirely brown and their upper-side features bright orange and brown markings.
Photo: Bernhard Friess, Flickr
Eastern Comma butterflies eat Butterfly Bush (pictured above), Dandelion, Rotting Fruits and Smooth Sumac.
Photo: Michael R. Perry, Flickr
Monarch caterpillars have bands of black, white and yellow stripes cover their body and they have long black tentacles.
Photo: James St. John, Flickr
Monarch caterpillars feed on Milkweed and Butterfly Weed (pictured above).
Photo: Rodney Campbell, Flickr
Photo: Charles Patrick Ewing, Flickr
There is a slight difference between males and females – male Monarchs (top photo) have thinner lines on their wings compared to female Monarchs (bottom photo).
Photo: Peter Stenzel, Flickr
Monarch butterflies enjoy New England Aster (pictured above), Mexican Sunflower and Milkweed.
Spicebush Swallowtail
Photo: USFWS, Flickr
The Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar’s bright green body resembles the head of a snake to ward off predators.
Photo: Jack Wolf, Flickr
The Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar’s diet consists of Spicebush (pictured above), Camphor Trees and Sassafras.
Photo: Anita Gould, Flickr
Photo: Mackenzie Brunson, Flickr
Male Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies (bottom photo) have slight yellow and orange coloring in addition to the blue that females (top) have.
Photo: Leonora Enking, Flickr
Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies feed on Pink Delight Butterfly Bush, Milkweed, Honeysuckle (pictured above) and Aster.

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