Meet Top 7 Small Butterfly Species

The smallest butterfly in the world is the Western pygmy blue, closely followed by the Grizzled skippers. Their wingspans are both under an inch, with only a fraction of a millimeter when their measurements are compared.

What is the smallest butterfly in the world?

Western pygmy blue
Western pygmy blue

The Western pygmy blue (Brephidium exilis) belongs to the family Lycaenidae and is the smallest butterfly in the world and measures about 0.87 inches (22 millimeters).

Copper brown covers most of their wings’ dorsal side (upper side), while dull blue accents the base of their wings. The wings’ edges are predominantly white, with small black spots at the end of the hindwings.

You can usually find these butterflies in alkaline environments, such as salt marshes, deserts, and arid regions of Mexico, Venezuela, and the Southwestern US (which includes California, Texas, Oregon, Nebraska, and Arkansas).

These butterflies typically feed on the following host plants:

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  • Pigweed
  • Goosefoot
  • Saltbushes

What is the second smallest butterfly in the world?

Grizzled skipper butterfly
Grizzled skipper butterfly

The second-smallest butterfly species in the world is the Grizzled skipper butterfly (Pyrgus alveus) from the family Hesperiidae, which measures about 0.87 inches (22 to 23 millimeters).

Its dark brown wings have pale checkered outlines like other butterflies of this species. As a result, this makes it challenging to spot outside. Their wings have evenly spaced white spots on the forewings and a similar but more subtle pattern on the hindwings.

It lives in the pastures and grassland habitats of northwest Africa and Europe (the Iberian Peninsula). There have also been sightings in Denmark, Iceland, and Cyprus.

Some of its food plants include:

  • Rock-rose
  • Silver-leaf cinquefoil
  • Potentilla

The other 5 Small Butterfly Species

Aside from the Western pygmy blue and Grizzled skipper, 5 other butterflies are considered relatively small compared to other Lepidoptera kinds:

  • Cramer’s mesene butterflies
  • Common sootywing butterfly
  • Marine blue butterfly
  • Eastern tailed blue butterfly
  • Woolly legs butterfly

1. Cramer’s Mesene Butterfies

Mesene is a genus of small butterflies, with about 25 subspecies, classified as follows:

Scientific nameMesene pharaeus
Kingdom Animalia
Order Lepidoptera
Family Riodinidae
Subfamily Riodininae

The forewings of the adult butterflies look sharp and triangular, with vivid shades of red, orange, and brown. On the other hand, their hindwings appear tiny and ellipsoidal but have a similar color scheme. Its wingspan ranges from half an inch to almost an inch.

They can be found in the tropical regions of Central and South America. As for the food plants, they seem to be fond of the Paulinia pinnata plant, which is toxic.

2. Common Sootywing Butterfly

Common Sootywing
Common Sootywing

These butterflies have a wingspan ranging from 0.25 inches to about 1.25 inches. Their taxonomy is as follows:

Scientific namePholisora catullus
Kingdom Animalia
Order Lepidoptera
Family Hesperiidae

The base color of this butterfly is sooty brown (thus, the name) pepper with white markings and spots. Its hindwings are usually larger than its forewings, both for males and females.

They are usually found in the farmlands around North America (mountain regions of Mexico and Canada). They lay eggs and eat the leaves of Amaranths.

3. Marine Blue Butterfly

Marine blue butterfly
Marine blue butterfly

Marine blue butterflies measure about 0.75 inches. These beautiful butterflies are categorized as follows:

Scientific nameLeptotes marina
Kingdom Animalia
Family Lycaenidae

The females are predominantly brown with some blue markings, while the males come in a combination of purple and blue. The ventral sides of their wings appear light brown with white markings that are somewhat similar to tiger markings.

These tiny butterflies frequent the mountains and fields of Central and North America. Some of their host plants are plumbago, wild licorice, wild peas, buckwheat, and wisteria.

4. Eastern Tailed Blue Butterfly

Eastern tailed blue butterflies
Eastern tailed blue butterflies

The Eastern tailed blue butterflies have an average wingspan of about 0.75 to one inch. Their classification is:

Scientific nameCupido comyntas

The dorsal side of the males’ wings typically appears blue, while the females’ are commonly lighter shades of blue, brown, or gray. Both sexes may have various shades of purple.

You may spot them flying around the coastal areas of North America and Central America. They use clovers, vetches, and legumes as host plants.

5. Woolly Legs Butterfly

Woolly legs butterfly
Woolly legs butterfly

Their wingspans can range from 0.75 to 1.25 inches. The taxonomy of the Woolly legs is:

Scientific nameLachnocnema bibulus
Order Lepidoptera
Family Lycaenidae
Subfamily Miletinae

As their name implies, their legs are covered in thick white hair-like bristles. Their base color is white with spots and speckles in varying shades of brown and black.

These butterflies live in the Sahara. Aside from their host plants (butterfly weed and buckeye), the caterpillars also consume scale insects and aphids.

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