Butterfly family: Nymphalidae

Back to Butterflies of the FWG

Links — [CBIF] — are to Butterflies of Canada on the Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility web site where you’ll find more photographs, descriptions, ranges, habitat, and more. The small images next to each butterfly’s name are from Butterflies of Canada. They show upper wing on left and under wing on the right and show the relative size of each species. Wingspans, flight times, and larval food are also from Butterflies of Canada.

American Snout

Libytheana carinenta bachmanii [CBIF] Wingspan: 41 to 51 mm
Larval food: Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

Question Mark

Polygonia interrogationis [CBIF] Wingspan: 45 to 68 mm
Larval food: Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), elm (Ulmus spp.), or Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Flight season: 2 generations a year: mid-June to early July and late July or early August to mid-September.

Eastern Comma

Polygonia comma [CBIF] Wingspan: 37 to 56 mm
Larval food: Stinging nettles (Urtica spp.), Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis), elm (Ulmus spp.), and Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Flight season: April through to mid-October (2 generations)

Compton Tortoiseshell

Nymphalis vau-album [CBIF] Wingspan: 52 to 70 mm
Larval food: Willow (Salix spp.), birch (Betula spp.), and poplar (Populus spp.)
Flight season: 1 generation, appears in July or August; adults overwinter

Mourning Cloak

Nymphalis antiopa [CBIF] Wingspan: 45 to 79 mm
Larval food: Willow (Salix spp.), elm (Ulmus spp.), cottonwood (Populus spp.), and hackberry (Celtis spp.)
Flight season: 2 generations: June to July; and August to October. Adults overwinter.

Milbert’s Tortoiseshell

Nymphalis milberti [CBIF] Wingspan: 34 to 52 mm
Larval food: Stinging nettles (Urtica spp.)
Flight season: April to October (possibly 3 generations)

American Lady

Vanessa virginiensis [CBIF] Wingspan: 37 to 56 mm
Larval food: Everlastings and cudweeds (Gnaphalium, Antennaria, and Anaphalis spp.)
Flight season: Migrates here in May. The second and third generations are seen from June to September.

Painted Lady

Vanessa cardui [CBIF] Wingspan: 42 to 66 mm
Larval food: Thistles (Cirsium and Carduus spp.), knapweed (Centaurea spp.), burdocks (Arctium spp.), sunflowers (Helianthusspp.), and wormwood (Artemisia spp.)
Flight season: 2 or 3 generations: arrives in May; locally emerging butterflies seen from June to October.

Red Admiral

Vanessa atalanta [CBIF] Wingspan: 45 to 57 mm
Larval food: Stinging nettle (Urtica spp.) and Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis)
Flight season: 2 or 3 generations: arrive in May; seen until September.

Great Spangled Fritillary

Speyeria cybele [CBIF] Wingspan: 62 to 88 mm
Larval food: Violets
Flight season: June to September (most common in July)

Atlantis Fritillary

Speyeria atlantis [CBIF] Wingspan: 50 to 64 mm
Larval food: Violets
Flight season: June to late August (most common in July)

Northern Crescent

Phyciodes cocyta [CBIF] Wingspan: 25 to 35 mm
Larval food: Asters
Flight season: Mid-June to mid-July

White Admiral

Limenitis arthemis [CBIF] Wingspan: 47 to 78 mm
Larval food: Willow (Salix spp.), aspen, and poplar (Populus spp.)
Flight season: June to August (partial second generation into September)


Limenitis archippus [CBIF] Wingspan: 53 to 81 mm
Larval food: Willow (Salix spp.) and poplar (Populus spp.)
Flight season: 2 overlapping generations,late May into September

Northern Pearly-Eye

Enodia anthedon [CBIF] Wingspan: 43 to 53 mm
Larval food: Woodland grasses, including Bearded Shortgrass (Brachyelytrum erectum) and False Melic Grass (Schizachne purpurascens)
Flight season: Mid-June to early August (1 generation a year)

Little Wood-Satyr

Megisto cymela [CBIF] Wingspan: 29 to 42 mm
Larval food: Grasses
Flight season: Early June to late July (most common in late June); 1 generation a year

Common Ringlet

Coenonympha tullia [CBIF] Wingspan: 27 to 39 mm
Larval food: Grasses
Flight season: Late May to early July

Common Wood-Nymph

Cercyonis pegala nephele [CBIF] Wingspan: 38 to 58 mm
Larval food: Wild Oats (Avena fatua), Purpletop Grass (Tridens flavus) and bluestem (Andropogon spp.)
Flight season: Late June to early September

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This page was revised 10 June 2021
© Fletcher Wildlife Garden
Photos: D. Gordon E. Robertson
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