Butterflies of Georgia's Piedmont Region contains images of virtually all butterflies seen in the Piedmont region of Georgia. The information below highlights butterflies commonly seen in backyard gardens.
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
Identification: Upper side of male is orange with black borders and black veins. Males have scent glands on their lower wings that appear as a small black dot on the vein. Upper side of female is orange with black borders and black veins. Both sexes have white spots on borders and apex. The Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus) has similar coloration, but the Monarch is larger.
Wing Span: 3 3/8 - 4 7/8 inches.
Habitat: Many open habitats including fields, meadows, weedy areas, marshes, and roadsides.
Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
Georgia's State Butterfly!
Identification: Male is yellow with dark stripes. Female has two forms: one yellow like the male and the other black with pale dark stripes. Hind wing of female forms has a row of striking blue chevrons and an iridescent blue wash over parts of the interior hind wing. The upper side hind wing has a prominent orange marginal spot that is generally larger than the row of pale marginal spots. On the underside of forewing of spring individuals the row of marginal spots may be merged into a continuous band, appearing similar to the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail.
Wing Span: 2 1/2 - 4 1/2 inches
Host Plants: Various plants including wild cherries (Prunus), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), basswood (Tilia), tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), birch (Betula), ash (Fraxinus), cottonwood (Populus), mountain ash (Sorbus), and willow (Salix).
Adults nectar on a variety of flowers including blue cardinal flower, bloodflower, Brazilian verbena, Butterfly bush, butterfly weed, garlic chives, common milkweed, daisy fleabane, dames rocket, dogbane, mountain mint, and eupatoriums.
Habitat: Deciduous broadleaf woods, forest edges, river valleys, parks, and suburbs.
Spicebush swallowtail (Papilio Troilus)
Identification: Both male and female are predominantly black, with white spot accents. Male has large patch of bluish gray-green on hindwing, female hindwing is iridescent blue. When wings are folded, lower wings have two rows of bright orange spots, with one missing orange spot. Body is spotted, and can be distinguished from a dark female female swallowtail which does not have spots.
Wing Span: 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 inches
Host Plants: Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) and Sassafras tree (Sassafras albidum); perhaps prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum), tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), camphor (Cinnamomum camphora), and redbay (Persea borbonia).
Adults nectar on many flowers including butterfly bush, delphinium, cosmos, oriental lilies, phlox, privet, wild bergamot, coneflowers, lantana, sunflower, and joe-pye weed.
Habitat: Wooded areas and deciduous woodlands and nearby fields, roadsides, yards, pine barrens, wooded swamps, and parks.
Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus Philenor)
Identification: Predominantly black with shiny metallic blue or blue-green on upper surface of hindwing. When wings are folded, underside of hindwing with only one row of 7 round orange spots within shiny blue, shaped like a J curve. Body also has bluish hue with white spots.
Male's blue sheen is more pronounced, than female.
Wing Span: Approx. 3 1/4 inches
Host Plants: Pipevines (Aristolochia tomentosa, Aristolochia serpentaria, Aristolochia macrophylla, Aristolochia fimbriata). Pipevines contain aristolochic acid, which is poisonous to some animals. Note: Do not use Aristolochia Gigantia or Aristolochia Elegans as host plants, these exotic pipevines may be toxic to Pipevine caterpillars.
Adults nectar on many flowers including Brazilian verbena, butterfly bush, mexican sunflower, swamp milkweed, and tall garden phlox.
Habitat: A variety of open habitats, such as open woodland and woodland edges.
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis Vanillae)
Subfamily: Heliconiinae (Longwings)
Identification: Bright orange with delicate black lines and small black spots, 3 black-encircled white dots on upper forewing edge. With wings folded, silver spots shaped like teardrops. Fuzzy body with brown and white stripes. Male's black edging is less pronounced than female.
Wing Span: Approx. 3 1/2 inches
Host Plants: Maypop (Passion-vine), (Passiflora incarnata, passiflora lutea).
Adults nectar on many flowers including butterfly bush, coneflowers, lantana, zinnia, and mexican sunflower.
Habitat: Pastures, open fields, city gardens.
Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)
Identification: Small butterfly, with tail on hindwing. Upperside blue-gray with red spot near tail. Underside of spring/fall form is dark gray, summer form is paler gray. White line, with orange on inside border on mid wing.
Wing Span: 7/8 - 1 3/8 inches
Host Plants: Southern hog peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata), plants from the pea (Fabacaea) and mallow (Malvaceae) families including beans (Phaseolus) and clovers (Trifolium).
Adults nectar on an assortment of flowers including bloodflower, Brazilian Verbena, butterfly weed, catnip, creeping wood sorrel, garlic chives, dogbane, globe amaranth, aster, lantana, boneset, liatris, mint, oregano, salvia, sedum, coneflower, sweet pepperbush, tansy, tickseed, sunflower, tithonia, and white clover.
Habitat: Open areas.
Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)
Identification: Small butterfly, no tail on hindwing. Male butterflies have blue upperside, females have black at outer edge of forewing. Both appear white with wings folded with small black dots, with blotches and black margins in the center of folded wings.
Wing Span: 7/8 - 1 3/8 inches
Host Plants: Dogwood tree (Cornus florida), New Jersey tea (Ceanothus Americana), and Meadowsweet (Spiraea salicifolia).
Adults nectar on an assortment of flowers including American Holly, Black-eyed Susan, Butterfly Bush, Common Milkweed, Dogbane, Heliotrope, Boneset, Oregano, Mint, Privet, Radishes, Red Clover, Sedum, Sweet Pepperbush, and White Clover.
Habitat: Open areas, edges of deciduous woods, marshes and swamps.
Red-Spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax)
Identification: With wings open, beautiful blue with scalloped edges. Underside dark brown. Forewing has two orange bars, hindwing and three red-orange spots near base, orange spots near outer wing.
Wing Span: 2 1/4 - 4 inches
Host Plants: Wild cherry (Prunus serotina) and Willow (salix nigra).
Adults feed on rotting fruit, animal droppings, sap and, occasionally nectar of Brazilian verbena, Butterfly bush, Garlic chives, Boneset, Mist Flower, Pink turtlehead, Purple Coneflower, Lantana, and Milkweeds.
American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)
Identification: With wings open, black at wing tips with white dots and bars, orange around the body, one white spot in outer orange square. With wings folded, two large eye-spots on lower wing. Similar in appearance to Painted Lady, white spot in orange square and two eye-spots instead of four distinguish American Lady.
Wing Span: 1 3/4 - 2 5/8 inches
Host Plants: Pussy toes (Antennaria plantaginifolia), Everlasting (Gnaphalium obtusifolium), and Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea).
Adults nectar on Brazilian Verbena, Butterfly Bush, Common Milkweed, Daisy Fleabane, Dogbane, Globe Amaranth, Boneset, Marigold, Mist Flower, Privet, Purple Coneflower, Salvia, White Clover and Zinnia.
Habitat: Open areas, meadows, parks, forest edges
Silver Spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)
Identification: Brown wings, lobed hindwing. With wings closed, distinctive white band.
Wing Span: 1 3/4 - 2 5/8 inches
Host Plants: False indigo bush (Amorpha fructicosa), Black locust tree (Robinia pseudacia), Showy tick trefoil (Demodium Canadense).
Adults nectar on a wide variety of flowers including Black Eyed Susan, Blueberry bush, Blue Cardinal Flower, Brazilian Verbena, Butterfly Bush, Catnip, Dame's Rocket, Garlic Chives, Common Milkweed, Common Sage, Dogbane, Globe Amaranth, Heliotrope, Joe-Pye Weed, Lantana, Lavender, Mint, Mistflower, Mountain Laurel, New York Ironweed, Oregano, Oriental Lilies, Phlox, Privet, Radishes, Red Clover, Showy Coneflower, Smooth Aster, Swamp Milkweed, Sweet Pepperbush, Boneset, White Clover, Wild Bergamot and Zinnia.
Habitat: Open woods
Long Tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus)
Identification: This butterfly has a distinct, long tail. Upper body is dark blackish brown; body and base of wings are iridescent blue-green.
Wing Span: 1 3/4 - 2 5/16 inches
Host plants: Vines from the bean family (Phaseolus), hog peanuts (Amphicarpa bracteata), beggar's ticks (Desmodium), blue peas (Clitoria), and American wisteria(Wisteria Frutescens) (NOTE - use native American Wisteria, not invasive Asian Wisteria).
Adults nectar on Lantana, Butterfly Bush, Bougainvillea, Shepherd's Needle.
Habitat: Edges of woods, gardens, open habitats.