Butterflies, moths, and skippers

Monarch wing(Enlarge) ©Janet Allen
Monarch wing detail

This section is about lepidoptera in general—not just butterflies, but also skippers and moths. I've discovered that many species I had previously thought of as butterflies are actually moths or skippers!

Here's how we provide habitat for these insects:

We have a separate section for monarchs since they have unique conservation issues.

We've listed all our butterflies, moths, and skippers here, but you can access them directly on these pages:

Zebra swallowtail ©Janet AllenZebra swallowtail
I took this photo on our visit to Shenandoah National Park

But I won't find this zebra swallowtail in my yard (though as the climate changes, who knows?)

When I first started noticing butterflies, trying to identify the species, I'd just leaf through books trying to find a match. But then I realized that most species can be eliminated if you look at their range. No matter how much a butterfly I'm trying to identify in my yard looks like a butterfly that lives only in California, for example, it's not likely to be that one!

This is true for selecting larval host plants, too. When I first started habitat gardening, I just looked at lists of larval host plants without considering whether butterflies that use those plants might ever visit my yard. Now I make sure the larval host plants I choose have a good chance of being used.