Identification Guide: 10 Charming Orange Butterfly Species

Orange butterfly species are common, and some of the usual orange butterflies are Monarchs, Gulf fritillaries, Variegated fritillaries, Viceroys, Orange sulphurs, and Julia.

1. Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly
Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch butterfly has an average wingspan of about 4 inches, which qualifies it as a large beautiful butterfly.

It has a yellowish-orange shade that covers both the forewings and the hindwings. The males usually look reddish, while the females are more on the orange side.

These butterflies have thick black bands that run through the veins and outline the edges of the wings. They also have white butterfly spots that mostly pepper the costal parts of the dorsal wings.

After a chrysalis stage, the adult butterfly will stay upside-down in a butterfly garden or roadside for a few hours to completely dry its wings in preparation for flight. After four or five days, it is considered ready for the breeding season.

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There have been sightings of the Monarch butterfly in the following locations in North America:

  • Mexico
  • Florida
  • Canada

2. Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

Gulf fritillaries have extended forewings. Their wingspan can be longer than 3.5 inches.

The ventral parts of their wings are brown with silver and white dots, while the upperside is typically deep orange with black markings across the surface. These patterns are somewhat standard among black and orange butterfly species. Because of sexual dimorphism, females are usually larger than their male counterparts.

The Gulf fritillary butterflies are known for their defense mechanism that appeals to the olfactory senses of their possible predators. Because the butterflies do not smell nice, their predators tend to stay away from them and look for other prey. 

The males also emit pheromones that attract females during the breeding season. The Gulf fritillary butterflies are present in Texas and Florida.

3. Variegated Fritillary Butterfly

Variegated Fritillary Butterfly
Variegated Fritillary Butterfly

The Variegated fritillary butterflies have a wingspan of about 1 to 3 inches. Based on these measurements, they can be considered small to medium-sized butterflies.

It has a brownish-orange base for its wings and dark brown or black markings that run the length of the veins. Dark bands also surround the costal surface of the forewings and hindwings.

The margin of the hindwings is slightly scalloped and angled. The ventral side has a mottled pattern with a color scheme similar to what you can see on the dorsal side.

Variegated fritillary butterflies love to feed on nectar but can rarely be seen in clusters during the feeding periods. They tend to be easily disturbed and will abruptly fly away if they sense the faintest hint of a sudden movement in their surroundings.

The Variegated fritillary butterflies have been thriving in the US and Canada.

4. Viceroy Butterfly

Viceroy Butterfly
Viceroy Butterfly

Also known as the Limenitis archippus, the Viceroy butterfly is a species closely resembling the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). They have a reddish-orange color base with black bands and markings that outline the veins and the edges of both forewings and hindwings.

This species has a wingspan ranging from 2 to 3 inches, and they’re smaller than the Monarch butterflies.

Viceroy butterflies feed on willows, cottonwood, milkweed, and poplars. They extract the salicylic acid from these plants and store it in their bodies to make them unappealing to predators.

There have been sightings of the Viceroy butterfly in these places in North America:

  • The US (Sierra Nevada, Texas)
  • Canada (Nova Scotia)
  • Cascade Range
  • Central Mexico

5. Orange Sulphur Butterfly

Orange Sulphur Butterfly
Orange Sulphur Butterfly

The Orange sulphur butterfly (Colias eurytheme) is a medium-sized orange and yellow butterfly with an average wingspan of about 2 inches. It has a yellow or orange shade for its base color, while some females may have hints of green or white on their wings and bodies.

Caterpillars’ (larvae) favorite host plants include alfalfa and buckeye. These butterflies feed and are most active during the day.

The Orange sulphur butterflies frequent Mexico and Southern Canada.

6. Julia Butterfly

Julia Butterfly
Julia Butterfly

The Julia butterfly (Dryas iulia) is a type of brush foot butterfly with an average wingspan of about 3 inches, meaning it’s a relatively large butterfly.

It has a bright orange or brown butterfly color base for the butterfly wings with marbled markings that are quite similar to the Sleepy orange butterflies. Its overall appearance resembles toxic butterflies, so predators tend to avoid going near this butterfly.

Julia butterflies are fast fliers and can even cross long distances without rest periods. They are fond of getting the nectar from shepherd’s needles, lantanas, and caiman.

They seem to have a complex mating system where the females dominate. These butterflies are diurnal and are active for most periods during day time.

There are sightings of the Julia butterflies in these places:

  • Florida
  • Southern Texas
  • Brazil

4 Other interesting orange butterflies

Besides the 6 most common orange butterfly species, you may also stumble upon:

1.Milbert’s tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti)has a deep brown, almost black section near its body, with bright orange wing edges
2.Golden longwing (Heliconius hecale)brightly orange at the wing’s base, with black wingtips covered in white spots
3.Hoary comma (Polygonia gracilis)orange with black spots, underside resembles dead leaves
4.Painted lady (Vanessa cardui)brown body and wing base, with a patch of orange covered in dark spots and black wingtips covered in white spots

What does seeing an orange butterfly mean?

Orange butterflies are often considered lively and vibrant. People like to believe that seeing orange butterflies means a message from a loved one who passed. Additionally, seeing orange butterfly symbols could mean your sacral chakra is overactivated.

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