Butterflies Commonly Found in Pennsylvania, Part One

While our garden is still in the planning stages, our hope is that one day we will attract some of the butterflies that are commonly seen in PA. In this and future posts we will learn a bit more about them.

The Great Spangled Fritillary, Speyeria cybele prefers violet leaves as a food source in the caterpillar (larval) stage. The larvae do not feed when they hatch, overwintering until spring when they begin eating. As adults they get nectar from a variety of plants including milkweeds, joe-pye weed and purple coneflower. This is a large butterfly with a 2.5″ to 4″ wing span. Their habitat is in open, moist areas like fields, meadows and open woodlands.

Images below of the Meadow Fritillary are the property of Randy L. Emmitt and are not to be used without his permission. http://www.rlephoto.com/species_list.htm

The Meadow Fritillary, Boloria bellona is a medium sized butterfly with wings of 1.3″ to 2″. The males and the females are identical with black dashes and dots on a tan or orangish-brown background. The females lay their eggs on twigs or plants other than their host plant, the violet. In their larval stage they feed on violet leaves. As adults they find nectar in the black eyed susan, dandelion, and ox-eyed daisy. They are attracted to gardens that are near wet meadows.



The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus is large with a wing span of 3.6″ to 6.5″. The male has a tiger-like striped appearance while the female is darker so the striping is less evident. Their habitat can be the borders of woodlands, fields and gardens. They have a variety of hosts from wild cherry, sweet bay, tulip trees, birches and the ash tree. They gather their nectar from wild cherry and lilac bushes although come summer milkweeds and joe-pye weed is the favorite.

The Spicebush Swallowtail, Papilio troilusgets its name from one of its host plants, the spicebush, Lindera benzoin, s common woodland shrub. They also use the sassafras as a host.  The wing span is 3.6″ to 4.5″. Like the eastern tiger swallowtail, its habitat is along the edges of woodlands, forests and in gardens. The female’s scales on the upper surface of the hindwing are bluish while the males are more green. For nectar they seek out the milkweed and jewelweed. The female lays single eggs on the underside of host plant leaves. The larvae feed at night, hiding during the day among the leaves.

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About chestercoextbutterfly

I am an apprentice Master Gardener with the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) Cooperative Extension Program. My local office is in Chester County. As part of my volunteer activity I am working with a team to develop a Butterfly Garden on the grounds of the  Church of the Loving Shepherd.  We will be using the creation of this garden as an educational program for some of the participants in the Bournelyf Special Camp which, is held every summer. Members of the congregation of the church will be involved as well as in the ongoing maintenance of the garden.The purpose of this blog is to document the project as it develops.
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4 Responses to Butterflies Commonly Found in Pennsylvania, Part One

  1. Debra Orben says:

    I am enjoying reading about your butterfly garden and think it is a wonderful idea. I grow some of the plants that attract butterflies and many of the common butterflies visit our yard every summer. Thanks for sharing and good luck with your garden.

  2. Barbara Rinehart says:

    I too hope our garden attracts lots of butterflies. In talking with my mentor Master Gardener, Janet Paterson, over the weekend she assured me “if we plant it they will come”
    BTW we are planning some sort of composting activity for the last day of camp. Stay tuned. Barb Rinehart

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