Butterflies Around the Wasatch Front

In honor of our 2nd Annual Father’s Day Butterfly Release, here are some facts about the butterflies and moths that frequent the Wasatch Front area.
Fact Sheet Credit: Erica Schoenefeld

  • Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

    Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

    This milkweed butterfly is possibly the most well-known North American butterfly and is an iconic pollinator species. Its wings are easily recognizable with the black, orange, and white pattern shown here. The annual Monarch migration southward covering thousands of miles has been a focus of several documentaries. Populations have dwindled in recent years due to loss of habitat, reduced availability of food, and improper pesticide usage.
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  • Colorado Hairstreak (Hypaurotis crysalus citima)

    Colorado Hairstreak (Hypaurotis crysalus citima)The purple forewings of the Colorado Hairstreak have a broad black or dark border, and the hindwings have thin, hair-like tails.  The undersides of its wings are pale brown or gray with small orange patches. You’ll find this butterfly near groves of scrub oak from mid-June through August.
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  • Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

    Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)Another famous seasonal migrant, this butterfly is known for the wide variety of host plants on which it can be found, the taller the better. The upperside of its wings are spotted with orange, brown, white and black, and the underside can have eyespots that look like eyes.

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  • Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus franki)

    Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus franki)The blue-gray wings of the Gray Hairstreak are ornamented with large red or orange spots on the hindwings near the thin tails.  These butterflies are best found in open, non-forested sites, especially those that are overgrown.  Adults are found perching on small trees and shrubs, or feeding on nectar from an endless variety of plants.
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  • Weidemeyer’s Admiral (Limenitis weidemeyerii)

    The black upperside of the wings of this species are adorned with large white bands and spots, while the underside is almost a photographic negative with white dominating over gray, brown, and orange patterns. Aspen, cottonwood, willow, and serviceberry are hosts for the caterpillars, and adults forage flower nectar wherever there is water nearby.
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  • Thistle Crescent (Phyciodes mylitta mylitta)

    Thistle Crescent (Phyciodes mylitta mylitta)This bright orange and black butterfly is one of the most common butterflies in Utah. It can be found near agricultural fields, ditches, or other disturbed areas in our valley floors, as well as in neighborhoods and dry mountain canyons. Their choice of food is any member of the thistle family.
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  • White-lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata)

    White-lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata)The forewings of this large moth are dark brown with a tan stripe running from its body to the tips, and the hind wing has a broad, pink band. You can find this moth anytime between March and October from Central America through the United States and into Canada. This moth is also referred to as the Hummingbird Moth because of its similarity to hummingbirds, rapidly beating its wings while hovering over flowers, even during daylight.
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  • Aholibah Underwing (Catocala aholibah)

    Aholibah UnderwingLike most other underwing moths, the Aholibah has dull gray and black speckled forewings which help it blend into its surroundings, and bright orange underwings that it reveals to startle predators. While the larvae consume foliage of oak species, adults can be seen feeding on nectar (pollinating), sap, and rotting fruit.
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Image Credits:

  • Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
    By Kenneth Dwain Harrelson, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14917505
  • Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus)
    By Calibas at en.wikipedia – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15530204
  • Colorado Hairstreak (Hypaurotis crysalus citima)
    By Megan McCarty-Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11526410
  • Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
    By Alvesgaspar-Own work (own photo), GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4636035
  • Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus franki)
    By Photo (c)2007 Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man)-Self-photographed, GFDL 1.2, https:/commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2243955
  • Weidemeyer’s Admiral (Limenitis weidemeyerii)
    By JerryFriedman-Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15552255
  • Thistle Crescent (Phyciodes mylitta mylitta)
    By Silversyrpher from Scotland, UK – Phyciodes mylitta (Mylitta Crescent)Uploaded by Magnus Manske, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21266171
  • White-lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata)
    By Larry Lamsa-Hummingbird MothUploaded by PDTillman, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curi85
  • Aholibah underwing (Catocala aholibah)
    By Sir Geprge S. Hampson, Bart. – Catalogue Of The Noctuidae In The Collection Of The British Museum, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7785835

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