8 Most Common Types of Butterflies in Maine (With Pictures)
Maine is home to many different types of butterflies. In fact, over 100 species of butterflies can be found in the state! While some of these butterflies are rare, others are quite common. So, if you are just starting off identifying butterflies as a hobby, this article is for you!
We will take a look at the eight most common types of butterflies that can be found in Maine so you will be prepared to identify them on your next nature walk.
The 8 Most Common Types of Butterflies in Maine
|Meadows, woods, fields
The monarch butterfly is one of the most common butterflies found in Maine. They are easily recognizable by their black and orange wings and can often be seen flying around in gardens or near open fields.
Monarchs feed on tree sap and only occasionally feed on flowers. The larvae of monarch butterflies feed on elm, willow, and milkweed leaves.
The habitat of monarch butterflies in Maine is typically open fields, meadows, and woods. But they will also congregate near riverbanks and streams.
2. Red Admiral
Red admirals are another common type of butterfly found in Maine. They are dark colored-with red and white markings on their wings. Red admirals typically feed on tree sap, but they will also feed on nectar from flowers. The larvae of red admirals feed on nettles.
The habitat of the red admiral is quite diverse, and they can be found in forests, gardens, and even near roadsides.
The red admiral typically can’t stay in Maine once winter hits, so they migrate south to escape the cold weather and re-enter the state come springtime.
3. Mourning Cloak
|Willows, cottonwoods, elms, hackberry
The mourning cloak is one of the largest butterflies in North America, with a wingspan that can reach up to 4.7 inches (12 cm). It is black with a wide yellow or cream-colored band that goes across its wings and has a row of small blue spots near the edge of its wing.
The underside of the mourning cloak’s wing is a duller brown with orange and white spots. This butterfly can be found in woodlands throughout Maine.
4. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
|Woodlands, swamps, riverbanks
|Sweet bay, tulip tree, sassafras, willow, poplar
|Nectar from flowers
The eastern tiger swallowtail is one of the most common butterflies in Maine. It gets its name from the yellow and black stripes on its wings, which resemble a tiger’s stripes. The eastern tiger swallowtail is a large butterfly with a wingspan of 3.5 to 4 inches.
Most of the eastern tiger swallowtail’s diet is nectar from flowers, but the caterpillars also eat leaves from trees such as sweet bay, tulip tree, sassafras, willow, and poplar.
As one of the most common butterflies in Maine, you’re likely to see an eastern tiger swallowtail if you go for a walk in the woods or near a river.
5. Eastern Black Swallowtail
|Woodlands, meadows, fields
|Parsley, dill, fennel, carrot family
|Nectar from a variety of flowers
This black and yellow beauty is one of the most common butterflies in Maine. You can find them fluttering around in woodlands, meadows, and fields from early spring to late fall.
The larvae (or caterpillars) of the Eastern Black Swallowtail feed on parsley, dill, fennel, and other members of the carrot family. Once they transform into butterflies, they drink nectar from a variety of flowers.
One of the most noticeable characteristics of the Eastern Black Swallowtail is the row of orange spots on the edge of its black wings. Moreover, its wing shape position while it rests sets it apart from other types of butterflies.
6. Spring Azure
|Dogwood, willow, alder
|Nectar from wildflowers
The stunning spring azure is notable for its bright blue wings, which have a scattering of black spots. These graceful butterflies are found in woodlands across the eastern United States and Canada.
Larvae feed on dogwood, willow, and alder, while adults sip nectar from wildflowers. Spring azures are particularly fond of mountain laurels and blueberry blossoms.
Because they are so common and widespread, spring azures are not considered threatened or endangered.
7. White Admiral
|Willow, aspen, poplar
The white admiral is a beautiful medium-sized butterfly with striking white wings edged in black. It is a common sight in woodlands across Maine. This particular species is known for its love of fruit and sap, which it often feeds on while in flight.
While larvae feed on leaves, the adults enjoy a more varied diet of fruit and sap. White admirals are attracted to various types of fruit, including raspberries, strawberries, and cherries. They also feed on tree sap, which they access by piercing the bark with their long proboscis.
8. Great Spangled Fritillary
|Grasslands and meadows
The great spangled fritillary is a beautiful orange and black butterfly that is common in grasslands and meadows across Maine. The larvae of this species feed on violets, while the adults feed on nectar from a variety of flowers. Great spangled fritillaries are particularly fond of thistle flowers.
This butterfly is one of the most common and widespread butterflies in North America. It is a favorite among butterfly enthusiasts and amateur lepidopterists due to its stunning coloration and its relatively easy-to-find habitat.
Butterfly Habitats and Facts
As butterflies flutter from flower to flower, they help pollinate plants and spread beauty throughout the world. These delicate creatures have captivated humans for centuries, and there are now more than 17,500 species of butterflies.
Butterflies can be found all over the world, except in Antarctica. They tend to live in areas with a warm climate and plenty of flowers, but some species are adapted to live in cold mountain regions. Most butterflies spend their entire lives within a few miles of where they hatched, but there are some exceptions. The painted lady butterfly, for example, can travel up to 3,000 miles in a single year.
Butterflies sip nectar from flowers using their long tongues. Some species also feed on pollen or other sources of nutrients. In addition, many caterpillars munch on leaves, which provides them with the energy they need to transform into butterflies.
Butterflies have many predators, including birds, bats, lizards, snakes, and even monkeys. In addition, their eggs and caterpillars are often eaten by ants, spiders, and other insects.
To avoid being eaten, some butterflies mimic the appearance of poisonous species. Others have bright colors that warn predators to stay away. Some even release a foul-smelling liquid from their bodies to deter would-be predators.
Most butterflies have a life cycle that consists of four stages: egg, caterpillar, pupa, and adult. Butterflies lay their eggs on leaves or flowers. When they hatch, caterpillars emerge and begin to eat. They grow rapidly, shedding their skin several times as they transform into pupae. During this stage, they often build cocoons or find hiding places.
After about two weeks, pupae emerge as adults. Butterflies typically live for two to four weeks, but some species can live for up to a year.
Ready for some interesting facts about butterflies? Check out these incredible tidbits:
Now that you know a little bit more about these amazing creatures, go out and enjoy the beauty of butterfly habitat!
- Related Read: 12 Wildflowers That Grow in Maine
While there are many types of butterflies in Maine, these are the eight most common. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a rare one! So keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready because you never know when you’ll encounter one of these beautiful creatures.
Featured Image Credit: Bill Barlow, Pixabay