As the weather warms up in the spring and the snow melts, Colorado bursts into bloom, its turquoise lakes, and wildflowers bursting with color.
In addition to the vibrant wildflower bloom, the state’s mountains, meadows, and grasslands are alive with the fluttering of 45 different species of butterflies.
There are many opportunities to witness these wing-adorned beauties fluttering about from spring through early October, whether hiking through wildflower meadows, woodlands, or waterways.
Here are 10 butterflies that you might probably find when exploring Colorado.
One of the world’s most well-known and extensively researched butterfly species is the Monarch. Monarch wings are orange with black lines and white dots bordering them.
The Monarch is well-known for its breathtaking seasonal migration, particularly in Colorado. They normally travel north between March and June once the winter season has ended.
As they migrate through Colorado, there is something unique about them; even though the Rocky Mountains of the Continental Divide divide the Western and Eastern populations, both flock to Colorado and put on a spectacular display for locals.
In Colorado, especially near the Front Range, cabbage white butterflies are frequently sighted. They are often found in plains, gardens, open, weedy places, mountain meadows, streamsides, and slopes.
Most of these butterflies are white, with gray spots near the wingtips. In the middle of the forewing, males have one black mark, while females have two.
The Weidmeyer’s Admiral butterfly has white bands and blocks on both wings, with mostly black wings overall. From early June to early September, you can find this butterfly in the woods along mountain streams and other mountain settings. By butterfly standards, they are a big size.
The contrasting black and white markings on the wings of both sexes can be used to distinguish them. In Colorado, this species is typically visible from June through early September.
Eastern Colorado seems to have a higher density of two-tailed swallowtails. Their habitat may include urban and suburban locations and rural open spaces, including fields, gardens, marshes, hilltops, and roadside locations.
These butterflies have wings that may spread up to five inches, and most of their stripes are black and yellow. Colorado is home to two-tailed swallowtails, most frequently observed where ash trees are grown.
The Hoary Comma is a dark reddish-orange and brown butterfly with black spots and bars. A row of yellow dots marks the wings’ jagged edges. The underside of the wings has a gray coloration overall, with darker areas that resemble tree bark.
The Hoary Comma is typically found near streams, prairies, and meadows in conifer or mixed woodlands.
On the Common Buckeye, there are any number of “eyes.” Both the forewings and the hindwings have spots that mimic eyeballs. Two orange streaks and two sizable black eyespots are present on the forewing. The top of the two eyespots on the hindwing is a crescent-shaped shade of magenta.
Although this species can be found in Colorado from May to October, it cannot survive the harsh winters and does not have the ability to reproduce there. However, adults frequently move into Colorado in the late summer and early fall.
The Painted Lady is one of the most frequently sighted and recognizable butterflies after the Monarch. In fact, all of the continents of America—aside from Antarctica—are home to them. But because they are migratory, they depart Colorado in the winter when the temperatures are too low for them to survive.
The wings have dark eyespot markings and are primarily orange and black. This butterfly is most common in North America, Africa, Central America, Asia, and Europe.
Rocky Mountain Parnassian
The forewings of the medium-sized Rocky Mountain Parnassian butterfly are black and gray with white or off-white accents.
The ideal time of year to locate them is from the end of May to early September in forests, plains, or rocky terrains where Sedum plants are present. They are about two inches long and have red or orange patches on the hindwing.
The state insect of Colorado, the Colorado Hairstreak, can be seen in the foothills and canyons of the region from late June to August. Adults range in size from 1.25 to 1.5 inches in length, consuming tree sap as opposed to flowers.
Their tops typically have blue or purplish tints with orange dots and small white veins running through them, while their bottom sides are typically gray.
Since 1996, this kind of butterfly has been recognized as the state insect of Colorado. It is typically found in hills and valleys between 6500 and 9000 feet in elevation.
The Checkered Skipper is the fastest butterfly in the world, flying at up to 37 mph in contrast to most butterflies, which hover between 5 and 12 mph. Since the Checkered Skipper adapts well to significant elevation changes, Colorado is an excellent place for them to live.
Females are brown-black with smaller patches of white checkering, while males are blue-gray with a pattern of white checkering.