A black butterfly with white spots could be any kind of Lepidoptera belonging to different species, usually Nymphalidae. Some of these may be present in your butterfly garden, although they are often found around wildflowers.
Which butterflies are black and white?
The description of a black butterfly with white spots could potentially match several species, as there are numerous butterfly species with black wings and white markings:
1. Black Swallowtail Butterfly
The black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) belongs to the Papilionidae family. Its upper surface is mostly black. The inner edge of its hindwings has black spots placed in the center of a larger orange spot. Males have a yellow band while females have a row of yellow spots near the edges of their wings. The female hindwing is also rich in an iridescent blue band or blue spots.
Black swallowtail butterflies are agile fliers and can be seen flying at various heights, from close to the ground to higher in the air. They are adaptable and can often be encountered in urban and suburban areas.
Black swallowtail is present in most of Canada (Quebec), Eastern US, Colorado, California, as well as South America.
2. Red Admiral Butterfly
The red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) is a beautiful butterfly with a wingspan of 1 3/4 to 3 inches (4.5 to 7.6 cm). The upper wing is black with prominent white spots. There’s also a red median band on the forewings and orange edges on the hindwings.
Red admiral butterflies are agile fliers and can often be seen flying quickly in a zigzag pattern. They are often seen flying near the ground or resting on surfaces.
The red admiral butterfly is found throughout various regions of the United States. It’s a widely distributed butterfly species that can be observed in many parts of the country.
3. Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly
The spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus) has mostly black forewings with ivory spots. The upper side of the hindwings has some orange spots. Females have a bluish shine, while males are more greenish. The underside of the hindwings is pale green with marginal spots.
Spicebush swallowtail butterflies are agile fliers and can often be seen gliding through the forest understory.
The spicebush swallowtail is commonly found in the eastern part of the United States, ranging from the Great Lakes region and New England down to the Gulf Coast and Florida.
4. Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly
Pipevine swallowtail (Battus philenor) has an iridescent blue upperside of hindwings, while the undersides have a row of 7 round orange spots in an iridescent blue area. In some lighting, this butterfly may appear black, but it’s actually deep blue.
They are often associated with their host plants, which provide them with food and protection. The caterpillars feed primarily on species of pipevine plants.
The pipevine swallowtail is commonly found in the eastern part of the United States, ranging from the Midwest to the Southeast and Atlantic Coast.
5. White Admiral Butterfly
White admiral (Limenitis arthemis), is also known as the red-spotted purple admiral. It’s a North American butterfly with several hybrid wing patterns across its subspecies. Usually, you’ll recognize it by a white band on the edge of the wings that traverses the dorsal and ventral wing areas. They’ll often mimic the poisonous pipevine swallowtail.
White admiral butterflies are often found in forested areas, especially in deciduous woodlands and along shaded forest edges.
The white admiral can be found in parts of the northeastern United States, including states like New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
6. Zebra Longwing Butterfly
The zebra longwing (Heliconius charithonia) is a black and white butterfly, with many whitish stripes and dots. Its wings are long and narrow, and the white spots are located on the upper side edge of the hindwings. The underside may have some reddish coloration, close to the butterfly’s body.
Zebra longwing butterflies are active fliers and are known for their leisurely flight patterns. They are also known for “puddling,” which is the behavior of gathering at moist areas to extract minerals from the soil or mud.
The zebra longwing butterfly is most commonly found in the state of Florida, where it is the official state butterfly. It’s widespread throughout Florida and can be encountered in various habitats.
7. Lorquin’s Admiral Butterfly
Lorquin’s admilar (Limenitis lorquini) is a common US native black butterfly species, with black upperside and white median bands on both winds. The tip of its forewing is orange-brown, while its underside is reddish with some white markings.
Like other admiral butterflies, lorquin’s admiral exhibits Müllerian mimicry, where it shares similar coloration and patterns with other toxic butterflies to collectively discourage predators.
Lorquin’s Admiral is primarily found in the western part of North America, ranging from parts of the Pacific Northwest down to California and into the southwestern United States.
8. Texan Crescent Butterfly
Texan crescent (Anthanassa texana) is deep brown, almost black. Its upperside has small white spots and coppery patterns near wing bases. Its hindwings have a median band of cream-colored spots.
Texan crescent butterflies are active fliers and can often be seen flying low over grassy areas.
They are known to visit flowers for nectar, making them important pollinators.
The Texan crescent butterfly is found primarily in the southern parts of the United States, particularly in Texas. It also occurs in neighboring states such as Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas.
9. Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly
Baltimore checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton) has a unique combination of black base and orange and white spots all around its wings. There’s a red-spotted line on the edges of the wings. Still, this butterfly’s appearance varies geographically. Some may come as dark brown.
Baltimore checkerspot butterflies are active fliers and can often be seen flying low over wetland areas.
It is found across eastern North America, ranging from parts of Canada down to the eastern United States.
10. Crimson Patch Butterfly
The crimson patch (Chlosyne janais) has black wings with a noticeable orange spot in the middle of its hindwings. White spots are located all around the forewings and on the outer edge of the hindwings.
Crimson patch butterflies are often found in arid and desert habitats, including scrublands, grasslands, and desert washes. They are well-adapted to the dry and warm conditions of their habitat.
The crimson patch butterfly is found in the southwestern United States, including Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, as well as parts of northern Mexico.
What is the difference between a black swallowtail butterfly and a black butterfly with white spots?
While the term “black butterfly with white spots” is a general description that could refer to different butterfly species, the black swallowtail butterfly is a specific species that matches this description and is recognized for its distinct wing pattern and characteristics.
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Mileva is a friendly butterfly and nature lover. She enjoys spending time outdoors and getting to know different types of insects, animals and plants. She’s always curious and learning new things, and she shares her love of nature on Butterfly Hobbyist.