Maryland is one of the US states with considerable butterfly populations.
Located next to the Atlantic Ocean, this is a state with plenty of rainfall and suitable habitat for nectar-rich plants butterflies love.
While the state was known for its tobacco-based economy once, it has varied crops and fields today.
Western sides of the states are covered by woodlands which means the ecosystem is diverse for all types of butterflies.
Migratory species come in and out of the state in the fall and the spring.
The following butterflies are among all the species in the state.
Table of Contents
1. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Eastern Tiger Swallowtails (Papilio glaucus) are a large species that dominates Maryland and other Eastern territories by numbers.
This butterfly is mostly known for its black and yellow coloring.
Its starts life as an egg that takes up to 5 days to hatch. It then goes through 5 instars as a caterpillar before it turns to chrysalis, a stage it remains in for at least 9 days and then emerges as an adult.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail can emerge soon after or even overwinter in a pupal stage.
Adults emerge and grow to a wingspan of up to 5.5 inches.
Seen flying high along trees, Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) represent one of the most common species in the state.
These are some of the most popular migratory butterflies in the country. Constantly shifting their habitat North and South to avoid harsh winters, these butterflies travel long distances each year.
Thousands of miles can be covered by the species. Butterflies in the state might even end up in Mexico 2 months after they live the state seeking warmer climates in the South.
Sachem skippers (Atalopedes campestris) are migratory butterflies in the state. They move South where most skippers can be found.
Apart from its yearly migration, this species is also known for its brown and yellow-gold color.
It folds its forewings up and it becomes similar to other skippers of brown and yellow coloring.
This is a species of butterflies associated with grass hosts. Red fescue and crabgrass are among their common host grasses.
4. Zabulon Skipper
Zabulon Skippers (Lon zabulon) are slightly smaller than Sachem butterflies.
These species grow sot a maximum wingspan of up to 41mm.
Present across the state and in Southern territories like other skippers, Zabulon skippers are only seen from April.
They fly until August each year as opposed to late fall activity in Southern states.
Like many other skippers, Zabulon skipper butterflies are mostly found on grasses such as bluegrass.
5. Silver-spotted Skipper
Silver-spotted Skippers (Epargyreus clarus) are some of the most widespread skippers in North America.
This species exceeds the outskirts of Maryland with a considerable presence even in Canada.
Butterflies of the species feed on various foods such as flower nectar. They also consume mud and have been seen eating dung.
This species prefers yellow and blue flowers for nectar. Vines and shrubs are used as hosts for their caterpillars.
6. Pearl Crescent
Orange, yellow, and black colors dominate the identity of Pearl Crescent butterflies (Phyciodes tharos).
This species has yellow ventral coloring with a few orange to dark areas along the margins of the wings.
The orange coloring is specific to its dorsal wings. Black patterns are seen across its wings.
This species is associated with a large number of flowers for nectar.
Dogbane is among the first sources of nectar for Pearl Crescents.
7. Eastern Tailed-Blue
Blue, black, white, and orange are the main colors characterizing the Eastern Tailed Blue butterfly (Cupido comyntas).
Visible differences between males and females are characteristic of the species.
The blue dorsal color is only specific to the male butterflies as females have a dark gray to charcoal color.
Small orange spots are seen on the base of the hindwings of males and females.
This species is commonly seen on clover.
8. Red-spotted Admiral
Red-spotted Admirals (Limenitis arthemis) are some of the most common butterflies in the state with a short lifespan.
This species has a short life that can last only 6 days. Some of the longest-living Red-spotted Admirals live up to 14 days.
Red-spotted Admiral butterflies from on nectar. They prefer white flower nectar.
Some adult males can also feed on rotting fruit.
Red-spotted Admiral caterpillars feed on yellow birch trees.
9. Common Buckeye
Common Buckeye butterflies (Junonia coenia) start life as dark-colored caterpillars.
These caterpillars are found around the state, mainly on plantain hosts. The common greater leaf plantain is a known host for these caterpillars.
Adults are known for their brown coloring with large eyespots.
Common Buckeye begins moving South with the wing to escape the inhospitable winter weather in the state.
These butterflies begin the migration back to the state at the beginning of the spring.
10. Small White
Small White butterflies (Pieris rapae) are inspired by the white or yellow coloring of their wings.
The caterpillars of these species might represent a small pest problem on crops and gardens.
It feeds on wild cabbages but it can also be found on various garlic plants.
Charlock is also a common food for Small Whites. This is a type of wild mustard not seen on crops or in gardens.
It’s part of a larger group of wild plants the Small White can consume, together with Wild mignottes.
11. Black Swallowtail
The Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) is one of the most colorful species of black butterflies in the state.
Identified by their black ventral wings with rows of white and orange spots, these butterflies have different colors on the dorsal wings.
Males can mimic the colors of the female’s ventral wings, believed for higher mating success or to escape the aggression of other males.
Females aren’t selective on their male partners based on coloring, however. They prefer territorial males.
12. Variegated Fritillary
This species of butterfly (Euptoieta claudia) flies low. It can be seen around passionflowers and violets.
Orange to brown with black checkered spots, this species of butterfly is known for being difficult to see at a close distance due to scaring easily.
Variegated Fritillary has a very short season in the state. They are only seen from summer to early fall.
This is a flight season almost twice as short compared to the flight season of Variegated Fritillary butterflies in the South which first appear in April.
13. Spicebush Swallowtail
Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies (Papilio troilus) are some of the most common mimicking species in the state.
These butterflies mimic spicebush swallowtail, butterflies that are distasteful to predators.
Black color is characteristic of males and females.
Blue-green coloring is seen on the hindwings of males while pale green hindwings are seen on females.
Its caterpillars are also known for having vivid colors and large eyespots that mimic other species.
14. Zebra Swallowtail
Zebra Swallowtail butterflies (Eurytides marcellus) get their name from their black and white colors that resemble zebras.
These butterflies are common in the Eastern US states including Maryland.
Most commonly, the species is associated with pawpaws.
People know the species by its large size and its wide vertical black and white bands. These butterflies also have long black tails.
Zebra Swallowtail caterpillars are cannibalistic whenever the female lays eggs too close to each other.
15. Red Admiral
Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta) are among the most common migratory butterflies in the state.
They start to move South when the fall ends, which is also a good time for the species to look for stinging nettle.
This species is the main food source for Red Admirals.
Eggs are laid and a new generation is born in the South before moving back North.
16. Peck’s Skipper
Peck’s Skipper butterflies (Polites peckius) are a common sight in grassy areas. These butterflies live on short vegetation such as meadows and prairies.
Lawns are the places with the highest chances of spotting a Peck’s Skipper across the state,
This species feeds on various types of grasses and shrubs as a caterpillar.
Once it becomes an adult it moves towards nectar food sources.
Red clover and purple vetch are among the most common nectar sources for the species.
17. Great Spangled Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies (Speyeria cybele) are a common medium-sized species across the state.
These butterflies have a wingspan that measures at least 62mm. In some cases, the butterfly can be even larger, with a wingspan of up to 88mm.
Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies have a brown coloring on the forewings and a yellow color on the hindwings.
This species has similar colors on the hindwings with large white spots on the ventral side.
18. Summer Azure
Summer Azures (Celastrina neglecta) are a common species across Maryland and other Northeastern habitats.
This species has a light blue color that inspires its name.
These butterflies appear in the summer, at the beginning of June. They fly in September or October.
Summer Azure butterflies have a small size being one of the multiple species that can measure less than 1 inch in wingspan.
The species can be seen in multiple broods per year in the warmest fall months.
19. Orange Sulphur
Orange Sulphurs (Colias eurytheme) are some of the most important pollinators across the state.
This species begins life as a green caterpillar to turn into an orange, yellow, and black butterfly.
Its wings are mostly yellow with just a few orange spots in the central areas.
Black is more specific to the margins of the wings.
You can find these butterflies in all habitats across the state. Meadows or lawns are common areas where multiple Orange Sulphur populations are seen the most.
20. Red-banded Hairstreak
Red-banded Hairstreak butterflies (Calycopis cecrops) can appear in the spring or the summer across the state.
Butterflies that appear earlier in the season tend to have darker gray nuances on their ventral wings.
Most commonly seen in the summer, Red-banded Hairstreak butterflies bear the name of the orange band seen across their ventral wings.
These butterflies have gray to brown ventral wings.
Black and blue marks are seen across the margins. Red-banded Hairstreak butterflies are a common sight on white flowers.
21. Least Skipper
Least Skipper butterflies (Ancyloxypha numitor) are some of the most common species in wet areas across the state.
Higher humidity and taller vegetation specific to high humidity habitats are favored by this species.
The species is first seen in May.
Butterflies of this genus are resilient as caterpillars. They overwinter in their caterpillar stage and emerge in late spring.
22. Eastern Comma
Eastern Comma butterflies (Polygonia comma) have been known as the Hop butterflies as a common species on hops.
These butterflies are also a common sight on false nettles across the state.
Orange and brown colors are characteristic of the species.
The body of the Eastern Comma is mostly dark brown to gray.
23. Gray Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak butterflies (Strymon melinus) are mostly known for their association with mallows as caterpillars and clovers as adults.
These butterflies have gray to blue coloring on the dorsal wings.
Gray to white coloring is characteristic of the ventral wings.
24. American Lady
Cudweed herbs are a common host and sight for the American Lady butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis). Its caterpillar grows on various types of cudweed.
This species is identified by an orange and black color across the dorsal wings. Its body is brown and orange.
The eggs of American Lady butterflies are yellow-green.
25. Little Glassywing
Little Glassywing butterflies (Vernia verna) begin life as caterpillars feeding on the native purpletop tridents. This plant is only found in Eastern parts of North America.
The species has dark brown coloring which may appear black.
White, off-white, or pale yellow spots are also distinguished on the forewings of the Little Glassywing.
26. Fiery Skipper
This species of skipper butterflies (Hylephila phyleus) also have brown and yellow colors. There are differences between males and females in coloring, on the other hand.
Brown ventral colors are seen both on males and females, together with yellow spots.
Yellow ventral coloring is also specific to the species.
Fewer dark brown spots decorate the ventral wings of the male as opposed to the ventral wings of the female.
27. Question Mark
Brown coloring of different nuances dominates Question Mark butterflies (Polygonia interrogationis) across multiple life stages.
This species begins life as a dark brown caterpillar.
It then turns into a brown adult butterfly. Multiple brown nuances across its wings as well as the shape of the wings themselves make this species resemble dead leaves.
You can find this species next to various woodlands or trees. Elm trees are among the most common hosts of the species.
28. Northern Pearly-Eye
These butterflies (Lethe anthedon) are among the species with the most eyespots across Maryland.
You can find these butterflies in the Western parts of the state, close to woodlands.
They have multiple large black and brown eyespots as decoration on their wings.
Butterflies of this genus are associated with grasses as caterpillars as they feed on them.
Adults have a diet that includes dung and fungi. They are also seen absorbing nutrients from tree sap.
29. Silvery Checkerspot
The black-eyed susan is one of the atypical host species of Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis) caterpillars.
Adult butterflies of this genus feed on red clover and milkweed.
With a wingspan of up to 2 inches, this butterfly has orange and black dorsal coloring.
Tan and white colors are specific to the ventral side of the species.
You can find this butterfly across multiple types of moist or high humidity areas across the state such as woodlands and marshes.
30. Horace’s Duskywing
Horace’s Duskywing butterflies (Erynnis horatius) stand out with their dark brown colors which make them resemble brown moths.
This species also stands out with similar nuances across the dorsal and ventral wings.
Dark brown is the base color of its wings. Light brown, black, and dark gray marks are also specific to this species.
These butterflies are small to medium-sized. Most never reach a wingspan of up to 40mm. The largest Horace’s Duskywing butterfly has wingspan of 49mm.
31. Painted Lady
Painted Lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui) are seen on lilac and other colorful flowers rich in fragrance and nectar.
The species has completely different dorsal and ventral coloring and patterns.
Orange and black are the dominant dorsal colors. White marks and a brown body are also specific to its dorsal side.
The ventral wings of the species show a combination of tan and white or light brown and white patterns with similarly-colored eyespots.
32. Sleepy Orange
This species (Abaeis nicippe) is named after the dominant color of the male butterfly. Orange is the main nuance the male Sleepy Orange comes in.
The nuance is slightly brighter, closer to yellow in females.
Small black marks are also specific to these butterflies.
The species can be small or medium-sized as it can reach a wingspan that surpasses 50mm.
This butterfly doesn’t migrate. It darkens as temperatures start to drop.
33. Little Wood Satyr
Little Wood Satyr butterflies (Megisto cymela) are among the species that don’t eat or that rarely eat plant nectar across the state.
These butterflies eat sap and even honeydew from bugs such as aphids.
A wooden-brown color is specific to the dorsal wings of the species which also inspires their name.
34. Wild Indigo Duskywing
Wild Indigo Duskywing butterflies (Erynnis baptisiae) are seen in 2 broods per season.
This species of butterflies first appear from April to June. Another brood is then seen later in the summer.
Butterflies of this genus feed on herbaceous plants. They grow to a maximum wingspan of 41mm.
35. Juvenal’s Duskywing
Woodlands is the most likely place to see Juvenal’s Duskywing butterflies (Erynnis juvenalis) across the state.
These butterflies are known for their affiliate to oaks as caterpillars.
Adults feed on plant nectar. There are many nectar-rich plants across the state that provide nutrition for these butterflies, such as blueberry.
36. Dun Skipper
Dun Skipper butterflies (Euphyes vestris) also feed on plant nectar, similarly to other species such as Juvenal’s Duskywing.
Unlike other species, these butterflies prefer the nectar of flowers over herbs and legumes.
Dun Skipper butterflies grow to a maximum wingspan of 35 in the right conditions of food availability.
This species is dominated by dark brown nuances on the dorsal and ventral wings, similarly to other skippers.
Unlike adults that feed on nectar, caterpillars need plant fiber to grow. They rely on various wild types of grass as hosts.
37. Cloudless Sulphur
These butterflies (Phoebis sennae) are among the many migratory species found in Maryland.
This is why they can be found in all types of habitats when moving Southwards or back to the state.
Cloudless Sulphur butterflies have a yellow color with black, red, or pink marks or margins, highly similar to their coloring as caterpillars.
This species is found in many types of plants as it migrates and needs hosts.
Across the state, the species is most commonly seen on Maryland wild sensitive plants.
38. Hackberry Emperor
Hackberry Emperor butterflies (Asterocampa celtis) look for hackberry trees to lay eggs on.
Emerging caterpillars normally have a reduced impact on these trees. On occasion, they can completely defoliate hackberry trees in the state.
Adult butterflies are identified by their brown color with black forewings and black margins across the hindwings.
Viceroy butterflies (Limenitis archippus) are a species known for polymorphism. This is a type of color adaptation that helps a species stand out when there are other similarly-colored species nearby.
Viceroy butterflies live in similar habitats to Monarch butterflies, which are also orange and black.
This is why they can be seen in different orange nuances from one area to another.
Viceroy butterflies in Maryland have lighter orange coloring across the wings.
40. Broad-winged Skipper
This species of skipper butterflies (Poanes viator) has dark brown and dark yellow coloring.
Some butterflies have even darker yellow sections, closer to orange nuances.
It can fold its forewings up in a triangle shape showing the brighter coloring of the ventral wings.
This species is seen across wet habitats with tall vegetation and grasses.
Common reed is one of the typical hosts of the Broad-winged Skipper caterpillar.