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12 Types of Butterflies in New Mexico (With Pictures)

a Monarch Butterfly on a purple flower

If you adore watching a spectacle of colorful butterflies in your garden, you may be wondering which butterfly species you are looking at. If you live in New Mexico and are curious about the types of butterflies that are common in your surroundings, we’re here to help.

In the article below, you can find the most common butterfly species found in New Mexico.

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The 12 Types of Butterflies in New Mexico

1. Red Admiral

red admiral butterfly
Image By: Erik Karits, Pixabay
Scientific name: Vanessa atalanta
Range: Europe, Asia, North Africa, the United States, and the Caribbean
Habitat: Mountains tops, seasides, cities, and residential gardens

The Red Admiral is a large and magnificent butterfly you can frequently find in residential gardens. It has a black body with red stripes and white dots across its wings. Their wingspan can range from 1.7 to 3 inches. These butterflies have been found across the globe, quickly adapting to the environment that surrounds them.

2. Silvery Blue

Silvery Blue
Image By: karloss, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Glaucopsyche lygdamus 
Range: North America
Habitat: Open woods, meadows, roadsides, prairies, moist rocky woods, grasslands

The Silvery Blue is a small butterfly that can be spotted across North America, including New Mexico. It has a distinctive body that you can easily recognize. Its upper side is light and glossy blue, appearing almost shimmery. The wings have dark edges and white fringes. Its wingspan is usually less than an inch, although it can reach 1.1 inches. They adore open and wooded areas like meadows, prairies, and grasslands.

3. Orange Sulfur

orange sulfur butterfly
Image Credit: Jason Patrick Ross, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Colias eurytheme
Range: From Mexico throughout North America
Habitat: Open fields, woodlands, meadows

The Orange Sulfur is a lovely medium-sized butterfly that usually spends its days near alfalfa fields. Its wings can reach a span of around 2 inches. The wings are topped with dark brown shades and black margins. The color of their wings can vary, although they are usually yellowish to orange, while females can even appear green.

4. Clouded Sulfur

Clouded Sulfur Butterfly
Clouded Sulfur Butterfly (Image Credit: Paul Stein, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 2.0 Generic)
Scientific name: Colias philodice
Range: North America
Habitat: Moist meadows, lawns, clover fields

The Clouded Sulfur, similar to the Orange Sulfur, is a medium-sized butterfly, commonly flying across meadows and fields of North America. Both sexes of the Clouded Sulfur have bright yellow bodies with black borders. The females are slightly different from the males since their wings have white spots on the margins. These butterflies are called “Sulfur” because of their intense yellow coloring.

5. Cabbage White

Pieris Rapae or cabbage white butterfly
Image Credit: NIL-Foto, Pixabay
Scientific name: Pieris rapae 
Range: From central Canada through the United States to northwest Mexico
Habitat: Open spaces, meadows, woods, bogs, suburbs, and residential gardens

The Cabbage White butterfly is a lovely medium-sized butterfly with a gentle and soft appearance. Its wings are colored a creamy white with black dots, making these butterflies very easy to recognize. While their habitat is primarily woods and bogs, they love to spend their time in busy, residential areas such as suburbs and gardens.

6. Anise Swallowtail

anise swallowtail butterfly
Image Credit: Narsh, Pixabay
Scientific name: Papilio zelicaon
Range: Southeastern United States to New Mexico
Habitat: Hills, mountains, roadsides, residential gardens, vacant lot

The Anise Swallowtail is a common butterfly often residing in residential gardens across the southern US and New Mexico. It is known for the yellow coloration of the wings, topped with intense black markings across its entire body. These butterflies are large, with their average wingspan varying from 2 to 3 inches.

7. Viceroy

a viceroy butterfly on white flowers
Image Credit: Starzshine, Pixabay
Scientific name: Limenitis archippus
Range: Canada, continental United States to Northern Mexico
Habitat: Wet areas, swamps, marshes

The Viceroy is a lovely brush-footed butterfly that is characterized by the tiny hairs that cover its forelegs. Its body is dark orange with black veins across the wings. Small rows of white spots cover the edges of the wings, creating a magical contrast. These butterflies reside primarily in wet areas such as swamps and marshes across the United States.

8. American Copper

American Copper
Image By: Erik Karits, Unsplash
Scientific name: Lycaena phlaeas
Range: North America, Europe, Asia, North Africa
Habitat: Landfills, pastures, roadsides, fields

The American Copper butterfly is a stunning medium-sized butterfly with unique patterns that make this butterfly stand out from the rest. The upper side of its wings is orange with large black spots. Its entire body is covered in gray hairs, creating a velvety appearance. The American Copper is one of North America’s most common species of butterfly.

9. Gray Hairstreak

gray hairstreak butterfly
Image Credit: Annette Shaff, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Strymon melinus
Range: Southern Canada to Central and northern South America
Habitat: Woodland areas, tropical forests, meadows, residential parks

The Gray Hairstreak, also known as a cotton square borer, is found across North America. These lovely butterflies are small, with a wingspan of around 1 to 1.25 inches. They have similar color patterns to the American Copper, with their entire body and wings covered in gray. The males are grayish with an orange abdomen, while females have grayish-blue wings and a larger body.

10. Great Purple Hairstreak

Great Purple Hairstreak
Image Credit: Sari ONeal, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Atlides halesus
Range: Southern North America
Habitat: Swamps, parks, woodlands

The Great Purple Hairstreak is a small and handsome butterfly with a dusky purple underside with blue shades. The males have a much more colorful, velvety black body with red and golden markings. On the end of each wing, these butterflies have two tails, one short and one longer.

11. Hackberry Emperor

Hackberry Emperor Butterfly
Image Credit: RBCKPICTURES, Pixabay
Scientific name: Asterocampa celtis
Range: Southern Canada to the eastern United States
Habitat: City yards, residential parks, roadsides, wooded areas, river edges

The Hackberry Emperor is a medium to large-sized butterfly, usually flying across residential parks and yards, as well as wooded areas. These butterflies are challenging to spot in nature due to their appearance being similar to other species. They have black, light brown to orange wings with distinctive markings. The markings are seven black spots on the undersides of the wings and one black spot on the upper side.

12. Monarch

monarch butterfly on a flower
Image By: bbarlow, Pixabay
Scientific name: Danaus plexippus
Range: Southern Canada to northern United States to central Mexico
Habitat: Open areas, wet areas, gardens, fields, meadows, grassland

The Monarch butterfly is one of the most unique-looking butterflies, with a large and majestic body. The males are usually larger than females, and their wingspan can reach up to 4 inches. Adult Monarch butterflies have bright orange wings with black veins and white dots on the margins. You can rarely spot these butterflies in residential areas and more in meadows, forests, and mountains.

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After learning about the common butterflies that enrich the culture and nature of New Mexico, you can begin to recognize them in the wild. These butterflies are quite distinctive and will be easy to spot in most parks, meadows, or open fields once you study our descriptions above.

Featured Image Credit: Joshua J. Cotten, Unsplash


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