Butterflies of Alaska


Of the 75-80 species of butterflies that live in Alaska, 35-40 live right here in Anchorage and the nearby Chugach Mountains. They are found at sea level, on mountaintops, and everywhere in between. Some range throughout North America or even other continents while others (e.g. Phoebus Parnassian) are unique to cooler climates. In warmer climates, most butterflies go through their life cycle in a few weeks. Alaskan butterflies can live over a year. Some, such as the very dark colored Mourning Cloak, hibernate in their adult form during the winter, and are among the first to appear in the spring. Some overwinter in the caterpillar or chrysalis form. Painted Ladies do not go through their life cycle here, but are migratory summer visitors. So Alaskan butterflies have managed to find ways to adapt to our cooler climate. They are all beautiful and fascinating creatures that will enhance your hiking experiences in Alaska.


Swallowtails (Family Papilionidae)


Parnassians (Subfamily Parnassiinae)
Eversmann’s Parnassian (Parnassius eversmanni)
Phoebus Parnassian (Parnassius phoebus)
Rocky Mountain Parnassian (Parnassius smintheus)


Swallowtails (Subfamily Papilioninae)
Old World Swallowtail (Papilio machaon)
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis)


Whites and Sulphurs (Family Pieridae)


Whites (Subfamily Pierinae)
Western White (Pontia occidentalis)
Arctic White (Pieris angelika)
Mecky’s White (Pieris meckyae)
Margined White (Pieris marginalis)
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
Large Marble (Euchloe ausonides)
Green Marble (Euchloe naina)
Northern Marble (Euchloe creusa)


Sulphurs (Subfamily Coliadinae)
Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)
Christina Sulphur (Colias christina)
Hecla Sulphur (Colias hecla)
Booth’s Sulphur (Colias tyche)
Labrador Sulphur (Colias nastes)
Giant Sulphur (Colias gigantea)
Chippewa Sulphur (Colias chippewa)
Canadian Sulphur (Colias canadensis)


Gossamer-wing Butterflies (Family Lycaenidae)


Coppers (Subfamily Lycaeninae)
American Copper (Lycaena phlaeas)
Dorcas Copper (Lycaena dorcas)
Mariposa Copper (Lycaena mariposa)


Hairstreaks (Subfamily Theclinae)
Brown Elfin (Callophrys augustinus)
Hoary Elfin (Callophrys polios)


Blues (Subfamily Polyommatinae)
Reakirt’s Blue (Hemiargus isola)
Western Tailed-Blue (Everes amyntula)
Spring Azure (Celastrina “ladon”)
Silvery Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus)
Northern Blue (Lycaeides idas)
Greenish Blue (Plebeius saepiolus)
Cranberry Blue (Vacciniina optilete)
Arctic Blue (Agriades glandon)


Brush-footed Butterflies (Family Nymphalidae)


Heliconians and Fritillaries (Subfamily Heliconiinae)
Zerene Fritillary (Speyeria zerene)
Northwestern Fritillary (Speyeria hesperis)
Mormon Fritillary (Speyeria mormonia)
Mountain Fritillary (Boloria napaea)
Bog Fritillary (Boloria eunomia)
Silver-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene)
Frigga Fritillary (Boloria frigga)
Dingy Fritillary (Boloria improba)
Polaris Fritillary (Boloria polaris)
Freija Fritillary (Boloria freija)
Astarte Fritillary (Boloria astarte)
Arctic Fritillary (Boloria chariclea)
Cryptic Fritillary (Boloria natazhati)


True Brush-foots (Subfamily Nymphalinae)
Field Crescent (Phyciodes pratensis)
Variable Checkerspot (Euphydryas chalcedona)
Satyr Comma (Polygonia satyrus)
Green Comma (Polygonia faunus)
Hoary Comma (Polygonia gracilis)
Compton Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis vaualbum)
Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
Milbert’s Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis milberti)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)


Admirals and Relatives (Subfamily Limenitidinae)
Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis)


Satyrs (Subfamily Satyrinae)
Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia)
Ross’ Alpine (Erebia rossii)
Disa Alpine (Erebia disa)
Taiga Alpine (Erebia mancinus)
Mt. McKinley Alpine (Erebia mackinleyensis)
Banded Alpine (Erebia fasciata)
Red-disked Alpine (Erebia discoidalis)
Yellow-dotted Alpine (Erebia pawlowskii)
Four-dotted Alpine (Erebia youngi)
Scree Alpine (Erebia anyuica)
Reddish Alpine (Erebia kozhantshikovi)
Common Alpine (Erebia epipsodea)
Chryxus Arctic (Oeneis chryxus)
Uhler’s Arctic (Oeneis uhleri)
White-veined Arctic (Oeneis bore)
Jutta Arctic (Oeneis jutta)
Sentinel Arctic (Oeneis alpina)
Melissa Arctic (Oeneis melissa)
Polixenes Arctic (Oeneis polixenes)
Philip’s Arctic (Oeneis rosovi)


Skippers (Family Hesperiidae)


Spread-wing Skippers (Subfamily Pyrginae)
Persius Duskywing (Erynnis persius)
Grizzled Skipper (Pyrgus centaureae)


Grass Skippers (Subfamily Hesperiinae)
Arctic Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon)
Common Branded Skipper (Hesperia comma)