Black Butterflies Species

While some butterflies are totally or mostly black, others are recognized for their vibrant hues. There are several black butterflies in the United States.

While a few other species of black butterflies are introduced from all over the world, the majority of black butterflies in North America are native to the US.

Black native US butterflies are widespread in all states. Most are observed in specific regions that are not bound by state boundaries.

Florida and other states in the Southeast are home to many black butterflies. Black butterflies are primarily found in states in the South.

Other indigenous species prefer temperate environments or high elevations. Only at high elevations in Northern states are species like the Magdalena Alpine to be found.

Black butterflies don’t remain black during their whole life cycle. Since caterpillars don’t develop a black foundation color until they are adults, the majority of black butterflies are green or white.

The following butterflies are native to the US and have fully or partly black wings. Some of them are also South and Central American natives.

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

Similar to the tiger swallowtail, the spicebush swallowtail is a large, stunning butterfly that almost never goes unnoticed as it flies by. Dark ground color and striking resemblance to the female tiger in the dark phase (above) make identification difficult without a close inspection.

The big size and black-brown hue of the butterfly, as well as the green or blue “clouding” on the hind wing and the substantial green-yellow dots along the border of the hind wing, are the spicebush swallowtail’s most distinguishing characteristics.

You may be quite certain that a butterfly is a spicebush swallowtail if you observe a huge, dark-colored butterfly with these markings.

Black Swallowtail

Several very similar species may be found across the American West and Southwest, and this stunning black butterfly is widespread throughout its range in the eastern US.

Another North American butterfly that resembles the toxic pipeline swallowtail is the male black swallowtail, which is smaller and has more yellow on its hind wings. The female black swallowtail, on the other hand, has considerably more blue on its hind wings.

Caterpillars of black swallowtail butterflies are particularly fascinating. It possesses an organ called a “osmeterium,” which may protrude from beneath its head when it senses danger, like other swallowtail caterpillars do. The osmeterium has the appearance and smell of a snake’s tongue. An fantastic adaption!

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

This really lovely bug is one of several tropical swallowtails that frequently have iridescent blue or green wings. Some of the most beautiful swallowtail butterflies in the tropics belong to the widely dispersed genus Battus.

The pipeline swallowtail is often exclusively found in the southern states, but later in the summer when several broods spread north, it has been seen as far north as Manitoba.

However, you shouldn’t assume a pipevine swallowtail butterfly if you encounter a huge, black butterfly anyplace north of the Carolinas or Missouri because the north is home to several other species that are considerably more prevalent.

This insect’s blue-on-black coloration is thought to have been copied by a number of other species. Whether or whether you are toxic, it is a good idea to appear the same since both the larvae and the adult may be deadly or repulsive to predators like birds and lizards.

Red Admiral

In North America, Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta) are also widespread. The US’s temperate zones are preferred by the species.

Red Admirals are distinguished by their black hue. Their wings have crimson stripes and extra white specks along the edges.

The species’ body and wings are mostly black in color.

Stinging nettle with Red Admiral caterpillars visible on it. One can observe adult Red Admirals savoring the nectar of numerous blooms.

Males of these butterflies frequently appear alone on a tiny area because they are territorial.

Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia)

You can spot this stunning butterfly hovering amid flowers in city gardens and along roadside habitats in Florida. The butterfly’s range in the United States is primarily restricted to the south of the country. The zebra butterfly is also widespread in Central America and Mexico.

The zebra has an intriguing behavior known as group roosting. As the day comes to an end, a large number of individuals will discover one another and “sleep” at night in groups of over 50 before separating the next morning to nectar at other flowers.

Adult butterflies exhibit remarkable behavior by eating flower pollen. The caterpillars, which are white with black spines, eat passionflower vines, which provide them with chemical defense against predators.

Red-Spotted Admiral

In the United States, Red-spotted Admiral butterflies (Limenitis arthemis) are fairly widespread. They have wings that are primarily blue with some black accents.

This species’ wings exhibit a variety of blue tones.

The top wings, veins, and other alternating black markings on the wing margins are all black in Red-spotted Admirals.

The blue tint of the wings changes to an iridescent blue color as they get closer to the wing margins.

The edges of its wings are likewise covered with orange half-circle markings.

This species’ underwings are mostly blue with orange markings.

Around cherry trees, where the caterpillar matures, the Red-spotted Admiral may be observed developing into an adult.

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)

On bright early spring days, you may occasionally glimpse this lovely butterfly soaring over areas of melting snow. It is one of few butterfly species that can spend the winter as an adult, hiding out in protected areas and emerging when the weather becomes warmer.

The mourning cloak is linked to insects with angle wings and shares their uneven wing margins. However, the mourning cloak has a distinctive and lovely aspect.

The ground is a rich purple-brown tint, with yellow borders and a ring of black with royal-blue specks slightly within. It’s a delicate yet exquisite bug that, while being widespread in North America, is prized by collectors in the UK, where it has been known as The Camberwell Beauty.

The caterpillar, which eats elm, is very spiky and has a row of red dots running along its back. They are risk-free.

Lorquin’s Admiral

A typical native species of black butterfly seen in the Western US is the Lorquin’s Admilar (Limenitis lorquini).

This species was found in California at the time of the gold rush. It turns out that its natural habitat stretches well beyond California to include Canada and the Northwestern US states, including Canada.

The Lorquin’s Admiral is a butterfly species with huge white spots and top wing margins that vary from orange to yellow.

This species-specific show is vibrant.

This genus of butterflies inhabits a variety of environments. While the species’ caterpillars develop and pupate on willow, a good area to start looking for Lorquin’s Admiral is near water sources.

Seeing this species is common since it may have up to three broods year in warm places like California.

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

One of the largest butterflies in North America is the gigantic swallowtail, and seeing one in your yard visiting flowers is a special experience. It’s not quite a black butterfly because the ground is a rich brown hue, but in flight it seems dark. Although it is mostly a southern species, farther north has recently seen an increase in sightings.

This species’ caterpillar’s resemblance to a huge bird dropping would serve to scare off birds and other predators. Due of their preference for eating citrus trees, particularly orange and lemon trees, these large caterpillars are known as “orange dogs” in the American South. Young trees may occasionally suffer harm as a result.

Funereal Duskywing

A little butterfly species known as the Funeral Duskiwing (Erynnis funeralis) can range in color from gray to brown or even black.

The species’ hindwings feature a fine white edge on all color variants.

The Funeral Duskiwing, which has a wingspan of little over an inch, is one of the species that loves to dwell in dry and even desert regions.

It prefers areas that are arid and extremely dry in the Central and Southern US.

Since its caterpillars develop among Mexican locusts and other plants in the genus, you can discover this species there.

Adults then wander across the area in search of flowers and plants to collect nectar from.

The deserts of Arizona and California are home to the majority of the species’ adults.

Dusky and Sooty Wings

Small and sometimes overlooked, these butterflies are quite dark in color. In a bright field, they can, nevertheless, be among the most prevalent Lepidoptera, flying low and visiting flowers like dandelions and violets.

When seen up close, several of these rather dull butterflies have iridescent sheens on their wings that make them incredibly attractive.

Wild Indigo Duskywing

The Wild Indigo Duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae) is a small to medium-sized native species that inhabits the Central and Eastern regions of the US.

Its wingspan may reach 1.5 inches, and its colour includes brown, dark brown, and black.

The black parts are closer to the animal’s body than the wings’ outer edges.

The butterfly is observed on indigo plants, as suggested by its name.

One species that has a relatively extended flying season over Southern states like Florida and Arizona is the Wild Indigo Duskywing.

In Southern states, you can view the Wild Indigo Duskywing from April through late October.

Palamedes Swallowtail

Swallowtails known as Palamedes Swallowtails (Papilio palamedes) inhabit a variety of habitats throughout the Southeast US states. They are widely dispersed over Florida, Georgia, and eastern Texas.

The colors of this species include brown, black, white, and yellow.

The top wings of Palamedes Swallowtails are predominantly black with brown accents.

Large white dots may be seen on the edges and lower portion of the hind wings.

On the lower body, which is primarily black and dark brown in males, there are also tiny blue and red spots.

The antennae of these butterflies are not black. Their head is striped with two yellow bands, and their antennae are reddish-brown.

Tiger Swallowtail, Dark Phase Female (Papilio glaucus)

Hence their common name, tiger swallowtails are large, exquisite butterflies that may be recognized by their striking yellow and black stripes.

But many females don’t have any yellow at all as they emerge from the chrysalis; instead, they are almost totally dark smokey brown or even black. Except for the distinctive yellow-black striping, they have all the other characteristics that are characteristic of the species.

It has been suggested that this color scheme imitates the poisonous pipevine swallowtail, Battus philenor, which is shielded from predators. It does appear plausible that the dark tiger swallowtails are benefiting from the mimicry complex by joining the many other butterflies that share the similar black-with-blue-hindwings colors as B. philenor.

Life cycles of tiger swallowtails are uncommon. In the middle of the summer, the adults are flying, weaving over the ash and cherry trees’ branches, where the large females deposit their eggs.

The green caterpillar, which has tiny “false eye” patches close to its head, eats until it is approximately halfway grown, at which point it pulls the edges of a leaf together to create a little home.

It spends the winter in this refuge before emerging in the spring to resume eating. Early summer will see it pupate, and the process will be completed when the adults erupt.

Black and Dark-Colored Butterfly Identification

This advice might be useful if you noticed a black butterfly and are unsure about its species. You can use the helpful photographs and concise, understandable explanations to identify the black or dark-colored butterfly you observed.

While all-black butterflies are uncommon in North America, numerous species do have a black or dark ground color. These butterflies are also included in this guide because they are frequently the most obvious component.