Butterflies of Texas
Texas has more butterfly species and subspecies than any other state, over 400, partly due to its varied ecological regions.
From the Guadalupe Mountains in the west, to the pine forests in the east to the subtropical climate in the south, Texas offers unique habitats to many species.
From the highest point in Texas at 8,751 feet, to sea level along the Gulf Coast, the environment supports a profusion of butterflies. The wet swamps of southeast Texas and the hot, arrid spaces of West Texas create a unique ecological diversity in which butterflies can thrive.
And thanks to a long, mild growing season and the large assortment of native and adaptable plants that thrive in Texas, gardeners can easily provide food and shelter for a number of incredible butterflies.
We live in Texas, so we have a special interest in the butterflies around us!
List of Common Texas Butterflies ... and a Few Moths
We're working to spot many of these 400 species, but right now we have posted information and photos on these common butterflies that we regularly spot in our home gardens in Texas:
Texas State Butterfly
The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) was adopted as the official state insect by the 74th Texas Legislature in 1995.
The Monarch is the only species of butterfly that does not hibernate, but migrates in changing seasons.
Every fall and spring, millions of Monarch butterflies make their way between Canada and Mexico. They usually stop throughout Texas to take a break from this 3,000 mile trip.
The Founder of Monarch Watch, Dr. Chip Taylor, declared Texas the most important state in the country in the development of the Monarch butterfly population. Texas is often called “the funnel” of the Monarch migration because of its geographic position between Canada and Mexico. Monarch butterflies must pass through Texas to make their migration. Many Monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains migrate to the Pacifc Ocean coast in winter.
Several other states have also adopted the Monarch as their official butterfly, including Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, and West Virginia.
We try to do our part in helping the Monarchs by becoming a registered Monarch Watch Waystation. Read more about how to register your Monarch waystation
Butterfly and Nature Centers in Texas
National Butterfly Center is located in Mission, Texas, at 3333 Butterfly Park Drive. This 100-acre native plant botanical garden and wildlife preserve has been established by the North American Butterfly Association to advance its mission of education and conservation. It relies entirely on donations and income from operations to support this wild butterfly sanctuary, in the butterfly capitol of the country! Phone 956-583-5400 for more information, or visit their website.
Wildseed Farms near Fredericksburg, Texas
Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary in McKinney, Texas - Includes the Native Texas Butterfly Garden & House. The Butterfly house has all native butterflies, and is open from mid-May through September. The Butterfly Garden is open year-round. Visit the Museum's website for details.
Fredericksburg, Texas Nature Center and Pollinator Gardens (staff photo)
Texas Butterfly Festivals and Events Scheduled for 2017
Butterfly Gardening Workshop
Texas Discovery Gardens
3601 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Gate 6 at Fair Park
April 1, 2017
19th Annual Butterfly Festival
EmilyAnn Theatre and Gardens
April 22, 2017
Annual Butterfly Flutterby
Grapevine Botanical Gardens
411 Ball Street
10:00 am - 2:00 pm
October 17, 2017
Annual Texas Butterfly Festival
November 4-7, 2017
Butterfly Garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (Staff Photo)
Butterfly Breeders in Texas
A large number of butterfly breeders are located nationwide, and several breeders are now in operation in Texas, including the following:
For a complete listing, we recommend you visit the website of the International Butterfly Breeders Association (IBBA). Founded in 1998, IBBA is the largest and oldest professional butterfly farming trade association.
Butterfly Puddling Place sign at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin
Photographs of Butterflies in Texas: A Few of Our Favorites
Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly (8/3/2014)
Female Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Black Swallowtail butterfly, on April 4, 2014, after overwintering in its chrysalis in East Texas
Monarch Butterfly on milkweed
Buckeye Butterfly on Hydrangea in early summer in Texas
Giant Swallowtail Butterfly on Texas Milkweed (8/5/2014)
Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Zinnia in Tyler, Texas
Red-Spotted Purple Butterfly
Queen Butterfly on Texas Milkweed
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly in East Texas - October 17, 2016
Zebra Heliconian at Mitchell Lake Audubon Center in San Antonio, Texas on October 22, 2016. Photo by and courtesy of David B. Sweidel.
Checkered White Butterfly
Red Admiral Butterfly (wings open)
Shown below is a photograph of a Southern Dogface butterfly at the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Photo by and courtesy of David B. Sweidel.
Variegated Fritillary Butterfly on Milkweed
Silver Spotted Skipper on Zinnias