The 10 Rarest Butterflies in the World

The most amazing specimens of butterflies often land on the endangered species list. Climate change, deforestation, and habitat loss all play a significant role in their once-thriving numbers. Some of the rare species of butterflies on this list are so threatened that less than 100 live in sanctuaries across the globe.

10 of the rarest and Most Beautiful Butterflies

1. Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides)

The Blue Morpho is native to the Amazon, but their numbers are quickly declining because of habitat loss.

Also, since this butterfly is so strikingly beautiful and blue, captive breeding is threatening this rare butterfly.

Blue morpho
Blue Morpho

2. Island Marble Butterfly (Euchloe ausonides insulana)

Sadly, there are only a few hundred Island Marble butterflies left on planet Earth. It only lives on the San Juan Islands of Washington state, and was once considered completely extinct.

It wasn’t until a spotting in 1998 and active conservation efforts that brought this rare butterfly back from the brink.

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3. Schaus Swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus)

The rare Schaus Swallowtail is endemic to the Florida Keys, and conservation efforts have bolstered their numbers from a few hundred to just under 1,000.

What makes these pollinators unique is their ability to fly backward to avoid predators, which is something other butterflies can’t do.

Schaus Swallowtail
Schaus Swallowtail

4. Lange’s Metalmark (Apodemia mormo langei)

This one belongs to the Mormon Metalmark species of butterflies native to North America.

It’s considered an endangered species as invasive plants threaten to eliminate it’s food source.

Lange’s Metalmark
Lange’s Metalmark

5. Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia)

The Zebra Longwing is one very peculiar species of butterfly. This butterfly ingests pollen, which makes it incredibly toxic (but boasts a longer lifespan).

While its populations are much larger than other endangered butterflies, pesticides nearly wiped them out in Florida.

6. The Fender’s Blue Butterfly (Icaricia icarioides fenderi)

This species of butterfly was another butterfly thought to be extinct. They are endemic to Oregon in North America and live in wide-open prairies.

However, they suffered extreme habitat loss and the loss of native plants as open plains transform into farmland. Habitat destruction and land development threaten this rare species.

Fender’s blue butterfly
Fender’s Blue butterfly

7. Saint Francis’ Satyr (Neonympha mitchellii francisci)

The Saint Francis’ Satyr is another species of butterfly that is incredibly threatened. While once abundant in North Carolina, these butterflies only live in a small pocket of the state.

If you want to catch a glimpse of this rare species, you’ll have to head to the Fort Bragg Endangered Species Branch.

Saint Francis' Satyr
Saint Francis’ Satyr; source:

8. Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae)

The Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing is one of the largest butterflies in the world and lives in the rainforests of northern Papua New Guinea.

It has a massive wingspan between 9.8 and 11 inches, and a golden marking on its hindwings. Habitat loss has landed this massive butterfly on the endangered butterfly list.

Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing
Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing

9. Miami Blue (Cyclargus thomasi bethunbakeri)

The Miami Blue butterfly is a small, denim-blue butterfly that lives in small pockets in southern Florida. Deforestation, habitat loss, and invasive species threaten this tiny butterfly.

However, active conservation efforts by the North American Butterfly Association hope to keep this butterfly on the map. It’s one of the most threatened butterflies in the United States.

Miami Blue butterfly
Miami Blue butterfly; source:

10. Palos Verdes Blue Butterflies (Glaucopsyche lygdamus palosverdesensis)

Like the Miami Blue, the Palos Verdes is also one of the rarest butterflies in North America. This butterfly is a picky eater, and its host plant is the common deer weed.

As wildland develops into housing, the common deer weed risks extinction. And along with it- the Palos Verdes Blue.

Miami Blue butterfly
Miami Blue butterfly; source:

What is the Rarest Butterfly in the USA?

The Miami Blue is the rarest butterfly found in the United States. The populations of these beautiful blue butterflies face numerous threats from predators, humans, and even mother nature.

Many believed that the Miami Blue went extinct after the brutal 165-MPH winds of Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

After that storm destroyed its habitat, no one saw a single Miami Blue until 1999. Today, less than 100 of these butterflies live in conservation areas.

What is the Rarest Butterfly in Europe?

In Europe, the Marsh Fritillary butterfly is one of the most threatened species. As their name suggests, these butterflies thrive in marshy, underdeveloped areas.

As the landscape transforms from marshes to farmland and residential housing, their number continues to decline. Today, it’s only found in the western part of Britain and Ireland.

Marsh Fritillary butterfly
Marsh Fritillary butterfly

What is the Rarest Butterfly in Asia?

The Kaiser-i-Hind, aka the Emperor of India, is the rarest butterfly in Asia. It’s endemic to the Eastern Himalayas, it lives in parts of India and China. Not only is it one of the rarest butterflies in Asia, but it’s also one of the largest butterflies in the world.

However, habitat loss and wildlife trade land this massive electric green butterfly species on the endangered list. Fortunately, this butterfly is now protected under Chinese law.

What is the Rarest Color of Butterfly?

Blue is the rarest color of a butterfly. But did you know that most blue butterflies aren’t actually blue? There is no blue pigments in their wings, but the way the light hits our eyes makes them appear blue.

The color blue is very rare in nature. However, there is one butterfly that breaks the rules, and that’s the Olivewing butterfly.

Olivewing butterfly
Olivewing butterfly

The blue accents on the Olivewing butterfly are not a trick of the light. They are one of the only organisms on planet Earth to have real blue pigment in their wings.

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