Whether in butterfly gardens or evaluate in nature, butterflies space arguably the gardener’s favorite insect. Over there are numerous beautiful butterflies friend can find throughout Florida at miscellaneous times that the year. Blue butterflies are particularly striking, and also Florida is residence to several. From some frequently seen come the critically endangered, right here is a sampling the blue butterflies found in our state.

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The open up wings of a pipevine swallowtail butterfly are practically black. Photo by Jaret Daniels, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

Pipevine Swallowtail

The pipevine swallowtail (Battus philenor) is found in phibìc and main Florida. These big butterflies have a 2 to 5 customs wingspan. Once open, their top wings are mainly black, through the hindwings showcasing iridescent blue or blue-green scaling and a noticeable tail. Masculine butterflies are an ext blue in shade than females. As soon as their wings space closed, the hindwings are black and also blue with countless bold orange spots. The caterpillars are additionally quite exciting to look at; they can be black, brown, or red and also have rows or shining orange tubercles.

Pipevine swallowtail larvae feeding on tree in the Aristolochia genus. This flowering vines are also known as pipevine or Dutchman’s pipe due to the fact that the flowers of some species resemble a pipeline (imagine the deeply bent pipe the Sherlock Holmes). All plants in the Aristolochia family create a toxic chemical; it"s thought that the pipevine swallowtail caterpillars ingest the toxin come ward turn off hungry predators.


You have the right to see the red-orange spots on the edges of this red-spotted purple"s wings. Picture by Jaret Daniels, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

Red-spotted Purple

The red-spotted violet (Limenitis arthemis astyanax) is a woodland butterfly frequently seen in suburban wooded areas.

These butterflies room large, v a wing expectancy of 3 come 3.5 inches in tires adults. The wings space a to mark blue-black color. Top top the outer edges of your wings you deserve to see rows the white and also red-orange spots; these spots provide the butterfly the name.

The desired host plants because that these butterflies space black cherry and also deerberry. The red-spotted purple butterfly is a mimic of the poisonous pipevine swallowtail butterfly.

Cassius Blue


The two eyespots ~ above this cassius blue room a brilliant irridescent blue. Photograph by Jaret Daniels, Ph.D. All legal rights reserved.

The cassius blue (Leptotes cassius) is a tiny butterfly uncovered most typically in central and south Florida, specifically along the coasts. These butterflies room sometimes referred to as tropical striped blue butterflies. While cassius blues have been viewed in north counties, they room cold sensitive and unable to survive a north Florida winter.

These butterflies have actually an typical wingspan of just under an customs wide. Their wings space white through grey stripes and also two eyespots are visible as soon as closed. As soon as open, the wings space bluish white at the top.

Host plants for the cassius blue caterpillar encompass a selection of vines, shrubs, and trees in the pea family (Fabaceae). This includes milkpeas, blackbeads, hairy cowpea, false tamarind, and also Jamaican dogwood. While not a member the the pea family, plumbago is additionally a caterpillar organize plant because that the cassius blue.

White M Hairstreak


Up this close, you can see the letter M under the red point out on this white M hairstreak. Photograph by Jaret Daniels, Ph.D. All legal rights reserved.

The white M hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album) has only a glimpse that metallic blue on your wings as soon as folded together, however when open they space almost totally blue, v black edges. As soon as closed, you deserve to see the characteristics M-shaped white line in the direction of the sheet of your wings. Every hindwing that the white M hairstreak likewise has a tail—this is the "hairstreak" from their name—and a red spot. These markings resemble antennae and also eyes to confused predators.

Host plants because that the caterpillars include white oaks, live oaks, blackjack oaks, and also Shumard’s oaks. The adult butterflies consume nectar indigenous a variety of flowers including viburnum, sumac, sourwood, wild plum, poinsettia, sweet pepperbush, usual milkweed, lantana, dogwood, and goldenrod.

Great violet Hairstreak


This great purple hairstreak specimen is in the grand Canyon museum in Arizona.

The good purple hairstreak (Atlides halesus) is just one of the largest and also most beautiful southern butterflies. In spite of the name, this butterfly has actually no violet on it at all. Instead, when the wings are open you deserve to see excellent iridescent blue bordered by black. When closed the wings have three red spots close to the body; overall the wings space brown. Each hindwing has two black tails (hairstreaks). An excellent purple hairstreak caterpillars feed only on tree in the parasitic mistletoe genus Phoradendron.

Ceraunus Blue


The ceraunus blue butterfly. Johnny N. Dell, Bugwood.org

The ceraunus blue butterfly (Hemiargus ceraunus) is a common however often overlooked butterfly. These tiny butterflies have actually beautiful irradiate blue wings visible once they space opened. When closed the wings space gray through white bands and white-rimmed black spots. The earlier of the wing has actually a prominent orange-rimmed black spot that have the right to be seen when the wings room folded together. Host plants for these butterflies encompass a variety of herbaceous legumes.

Atala Butterfly


The glowing orange abdomen that this Atala butterfly virtually blends in with the flower. Photo by Jaret Daniels, Ph.D. All civil liberties reserved.

The Atala butterfly (Eumaeus atala Poey) is a rare butterfly with a restricted distribution in southern Florida. The outside of the butterflies’ wings (when urgently together) are deep black, v curved rows that iridescent blue spots. They have a shining red-orange abdomen. The open up wings the the masculine butterflies feature an iridescent, glowing blue, while the females have only little streaks that blue on the wings. Recently hatched caterpillars are very tiny and pale yellow. Over a job or 2 they construct into shining red caterpillars v yellow spots.

Atala butterflies endured massive population declines in the early 1900s; early settlers practically wiped the end the Atala"s preferred host plant, coontie, because that its starch. Today, Atala butterflies are taken into consideration rare, but the planting of coontie in butterfly gardens and as one ornamental landscape plant has actually helped the butterfly populations rebound a bit.

Coontie isn"t simply the just native organize plant because that these butterflies, it"s the only cycad aboriginal to north America. Nectar sources for these butterflies encompass wild coffee, porterweed, beautyberry, indigoberry, and common weeds favor Spanish needles.

Miami Blue


The small Miami blue butterfly is endangered. Picture by Jaret Daniels, Ph.D. All legal rights reserved.

The Miami blue (Cyclargus thomasi bethunbakeri) is a small, brightly fancy butterfly indigenous only to Florida. Adult Miami blue butterflies have a one-inch wide wingspan. These really rare butterflies have actually grey wings patterned through brown and also black once folded together. The beloved blue is clearly shows on the wings when they are unfolded.

These butterflies were once common in hardwood hammocks, beachside scrub, and tropical pine tree rocklands. However urbanization and also the ns of seaside habitat have got rid of most that the Miami blue"s range. There is just one known population remaining ~ above a couple of uninhabited islands in key West and good White Heron national Wildlife Refuge, do the Miami blue among the many critically endangered butterflies in phibìc America.

Efforts are being do to conserve this species. The college of Florida"s Museum the Natural history has partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and also Florida Park service to re-establish populations of the Miami blue. You may have additionally seen the "Save Wild Florida" license tag, which attributes a snapshot of the Miami Blue butterfly and benefits conservation efforts.


A somewhat-fuzzy picture of a ceraunus blue butterfly, reflecting its blue coloring.

Attracting Butterflies

For gardeners reasoning of including butterfly plants to their landscapes, it"s essential to keep in mind that both caterpillar hold plants and nectar plants for adults need to be planted come maximize butterfly populations. Learn an ext about to plan your very own butterfly garden here on Gardening Solutions. And you can always contact her county expansion office for assist from agents familar through your community.

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With an excellent thanks to Dr. Jaret Daniels, Entomology and also Nematology, college of Florida, because that both his assistance on this article and also for enabling the use of his photographs.