KFN Logo

Butterflies of the Kingston Study Area

Butterfly enthusiasts have been observing and studying butterflies for decades in the Kingston Study Area and there is a fairly definitive list of the species that can be found in the area. This list is presented further down the page. If you are new to butterflies, you might be interested to know that Butterflies (Superfamily Papilionoidea) are in the Order Lepidoptera lumped together with moths. The Superfamily Papilionoidea is divided into seven families of which five families are represented in the Kingston Study Area. Butterflies are often grouped by subfamily of which 18 are represented in the Kingston Study Area.

  • Skippers (Family Hesperiidae)
    • Dicot Skippers (Subfamily Eudaminae)
    • Grass Skippers (Subfamily Hesperiinae)
    • Skipperlings (Subfamily Heteropterinae)
    • Spread-wing Skippers (Subfamily Pyrginae)
  • Gossamer-winged Butterflies (Family Lycaenidae)
    • Coppers (Subfamily Lycaeninae)
    • Insectivorous Butterflies (Subfamily Miletinae)
    • Blues (Subfamily Polyommatinae)
    • Hairstreaks (Subfamily Theclinae)
  • Brush-footed Butterflies (Family Nymphalidae)
    • Emperors (Subfamily Apaturinae)
    • Milkweed Butterflies (Subfamily Danainae)
    • Fritillaries and Longwings (Subfamily Heliconiinae)
    • Beak and Snout Butterflies (Subfamily Libytheinae)
    • Admirals and Allies (Subfamily Limenitidinae)
    • Checkerspots, Anglewings, Peacocks, and Allies (Subfamily Nymphalinae)
    • Satyrs, Morphos, and Allies (Subfamily Satyrinae)
  • Swallowtails and Parnassians (Family Papilionidae)
    • Swallowtails (Subfamily Papilioninae)
  • Whites, Yellows, and Sulphurs (Family Pieridae)
    • Yellows and Sulphurs (Subfamily Coliadinae)
    • Whites (Subfamily Pierinae)

The Kingston Study Area is a 50 km radius circle centered on the peak of Murney Tower in Kingston, Ontario. Because the circle excludes some of Charleston Lake Provincial Park and Menzel Centennial Provincial Park is close to the edge, some KFN butterfly observers count records from those areas on their personal lists for the area.

The Kingston Field Naturalists discourages the collection of live specimens, and this may actually be illegal in certain areas (e.g. conservation areas, provincial parks, national parks). The best way to observe butterflies is with a pair of binoculars, a camera and/or a notebook. Many observers now upload their photo observations to iNaturalist. It is important that you collect date, time, and location data for your observations. Smart phone apps such as Geotag Photos Pro 2 will collect the location data for you to avoid wasting your camera battery.

Any observations added to iNaturalist get shared with the Ontario Butterfly Atlas automatically, so there is no need to submit them separately. Other observation sharing websites such as e-butterfly don’t have the same uptake as iNaturalist, but you are welcome to explore such places. Avoid duplicating observations on multiple websites or by multiple people. If you are observing butterflies with others, please decide who will upload the observations to iNaturalist. For more information about how to submit data to the Ontario Butterfly Atlas please see their “Contribute Your Ontario Butterfly Data” page.

For more information on, to learn more about, or to join someone looking for butterflies in the Kingston study area, please contact the KFN (info@kingstonfieldnaturalists.org) and your request will be passed onto the appropriate person. You can also join the Kingston Field Naturalists: Butterflies project on iNaturalist.

You may be interested in resources to help you learn about and identify butterflies in this area. The best physical field guide at present is the ROM Field Guide to Butterflies of Ontario. There is also a locally produced booklet, the Pictorial Pocket Guide to the Butterflies of the Kingston Region. To acquire one of these, please email info@kingstonfieldnaturalists.org. There are several other suggestions on the Ontario Field Naturalist’s Toolchest.

The following lists use information from the Ontario Butterfly Atlas, iNaturalist and local knowledge. It includes data up to and including 2022. The butterflies are sorted by subfamily, but you can use the arrows to sort the list however you like. For a list of subfamilies, please see above. In browsing this list, one should pay close attention to the latest year and the comments as some butterflies are “one-offs” that either wandered into the area on a strong breeze or were historically found in the area and would be very difficult to find under normal circumstances.

Butterflies of the Kingston Study Area

This is a verified list of butterfly species observed in the Kingston Study Area (a 50 km radius circle centered on the peak of Murney Tower).
Common NameScientific NameSubfamilyEarliestLatestComments
Hackberry EmperorAsterocampa celtisApaturinae19992022
Clouded SulphurColias philodiceColiadinae19632022
Little YellowPyrisitia lisaColiadinae18682012Very rare southern migrant
Orange SulphurColias eurythemeColiadinae19622022
MonarchDanaus plexippusDanainae19632022
Northern CloudywingThorybes pyladesEudaminae19682022
Silver-spotted SkipperEpargyreus clarusEudaminae19702022
Aphrodite FritillarySpeyeria aphroditeHeliconiinae19562022
Great Spangled FritillarySpeyeria cybeleHeliconiinae19642022
Meadow FritillaryBoloria bellonaHeliconiinae19552022
Silver-bordered FritillaryBoloria seleneHeliconiinae19692022
Variegated FritillaryEuptoieta claudiaHeliconiinae20162016
Broad-winged SkipperPoanes viatorHesperiinae19702022
Common Roadside-SkipperAmblyscirtes vialisHesperiinae19702022
Crossline SkipperPolites origenesHesperiinae19632022
Delaware SkipperAnatrytone loganHesperiinae20032022
Dion SkipperEuphyes dionHesperiinae19712022
Dun SkipperEuphyes vestrisHesperiinae19632022
European SkipperThymelicus lineolaHesperiinae18682022Introduced in 1920
Fiery SkipperHylephila phyleusHesperiinae20122022Very rare southern migrant
Hobomok SkipperLon hobomokHesperiinae19632022
Indian SkipperHesperia sassacusHesperiinae19642022
Least SkipperAncyloxypha numitorHesperiinae19632022
Leonard's SkipperHesperia leonardusHesperiinae19662022
Little GlassywingVernia vernaHesperiinae20042022
Long DashPolites mysticHesperiinae19632022
Mulberry WingPoanes massasoitHesperiinae20152022
Northern Broken-DashPolites egeremetHesperiinae18682022
Peck's SkipperPolites peckiusHesperiinae19632022
Tawny-edged SkipperPolites themistoclesHesperiinae19392022
SachemAtalopedes campestrisHesperiinae20122012Very rare southern migrant
Two-spotted SkipperEuphyes bimaculaHesperiinae19712021
Arctic SkipperCarterocephalus mandanHeteropterinae19702022
American SnoutLibytheana carinentaLibytheinae20132022Becoming more common since 2013 likely a result of the City of Kingston planting hundreds of Hackberry trees since 2012
Red-spotted PurpleLimenitis arthemis ssp. astyanaxLimenitidinae20142018Seen in some years in Sandhurst Shores
ViceroyLimenitis archippusLimenitidinae19642022
White AdmiralLimenitis arthemis ssp. arthemisLimenitidinae19602022
American CopperLycaena phlaeasLycaeninae18682022
Bog CopperTharsalea epixantheLycaeninae19692022
Bronze CopperTharsalea hyllusLycaeninae19202022
HarvesterFeniseca tarquiniusMiletinae19462022
American LadyVanessa virginiensisNymphalinae19642022
Baltimore CheckerspotEuphydryas phaetonNymphalinae19692022
Common BuckeyeJunonia coeniaNymphalinae19672022Rare southern migrant
Compton TortoiseshellNymphalis l-albumNymphalinae19692022
Eastern CommaPolygonia commaNymphalinae19692022
Gorgone CheckerspotChlosyne gorgoneNymphalinae20212022Normally a western species but recently discovered in the study area
Green CommaPolygonia faunusNymphalinae20062018
Grey CommaPolygonia progneNymphalinae19092022
Harris's CheckerspotChlosyne harrisiiNymphalinae19702022
Milbert's TortoiseshellAglais milbertiNymphalinae19642022
Mourning CloakNymphalis antiopaNymphalinae19612022
Northern CrescentPhyciodes cocytaNymphalinae19552022
Painted LadyVanessa carduiNymphalinae19812022Intermittent southern migrant
Pearl CrescentPhyciodes tharosNymphalinae19702022
Question MarkPolygonia interrogationisNymphalinae19512022
Red AdmiralVanessa atalantaNymphalinae19692022
Black SwallowtailPapilio polyxenesPapilioninae19082022
Midsummer Tiger SwallowtailPapilio canadensis × glaucusPapilioninae19702022
Canadian Tiger SwallowtailPapilio canadensisPapilioninae19712022
Eastern Giant SwallowtailPapilio cresphontesPapilioninae20072022Not in area prior to 2007
Pipevine SwallowtailBattus philenorPapilioninae20122022Very rare southern migrant
Spicebush SwallowtailPapilio troilusPapilioninae20222022Very rare southern migrant
Cabbage WhitePieris rapaePierinae19572022Introduced in 1850
Mustard WhitePieris oleraceaPierinae19672022
Olympia MarbleEuchloe olympiaPierinae19502022
West Virginia WhitePieris virginiensisPierinae19782022Vulnerable (S3) in Ontario
Eastern Tailed-BlueCupido comyntasPolyommatinae19662022
Northern AzureCelastrina luciaPolyommatinae19412022
Silvery BlueGlaucopsyche lygdamusPolyommatinae19702022
Summer AzureCelastrina neglectaPolyommatinae20172022
Columbine DuskywingErynnis luciliusPyrginae19632022
Dreamy DuskywingErynnis icelusPyrginae19702022
Juvenal's DuskywingErynnis juvenalisPyrginae19692022
Mottled DuskywingErynnis martialisPyrginae19642022
Wild Indigo DuskywingErynnis baptisiaePyrginae20112022
Appalachian BrownLethe appalachiaSatyrinae19932022
Chryxus ArcticOeneis chryxusSatyrinae19692022
Common RingletCoenonympha californiaSatyrinae19552022
Common Wood-NymphCercyonis pegalaSatyrinae19632022
Eyed BrownLethe eurydiceSatyrinae19632022
Little Wood SatyrMegisto cymelaSatyrinae19612022
Northern Pearly-eyeLethe anthedonSatyrinae19092022
Acadian HairstreakSatyrium acadicaTheclinae19632022
Banded HairstreakSatyrium calanusTheclinae19412022
Brown ElfinCallophrys augustinusTheclinae19722021
Coral HairstreakSatyrium titusTheclinae18682022
Early HairstreakErora laetaTheclinae19742016Observation report in old Blue Bill
Eastern Pine ElfinCallophrys niphonTheclinae19702022
Edwards' HairstreakSatyrium edwardsiiTheclinae19692016
Grey HairstreakStrymon melinusTheclinae19702022
Henry's ElfinCallophrys henriciTheclinae19672022
Hickory HairstreakSatyrium caryaevorusTheclinae19512022
Hoary ElfinCallophrys poliosTheclinae19702022
Juniper HairstreakCallophrys gryneusTheclinae19722022
Striped HairstreakSatyrium liparopsTheclinae19412022
White M HairstreakParrhasius m-albumTheclinae20122012

Removed or Unsubstantiated Butterflies of the Kingston Study Area

The butterflies on this list include species that are difficult to verify or species that have been removed from the list due to phylogenetic or other studies.
Common NameScientific NameSubfamilyEarliestLatestComments
Pink-edged SulphurColias interiorColiadinae19642003Two observations: 2003 withdrawn; 1964 unsubstantiated
Southern CloudywingThorybes bathyllusEudaminae19871987Single unsubstantiated observation
Atlantis FritillarySpeyeria atlantisHeliconiinae19621990Five unsubstantiated observations
Silvery CheckerspotChlosyne nycteisNymphalinae19961996Single unsubstantiated observation
Satyr CommaPolygonia satyrusNymphalinae20092009Single unsubstantiated observation
Tawny CrescentPhyciodes batesiiNymphalinae19932011Three unsubstantiated observations
Eastern Tiger SwallowtailPapilio glaucusPapilioninaeCurrent research suggests this species is not in the area except as a hybrid
Cherry Gall AzureCelastrina serotinaPolyommatinaeCurrent research suggests this species is not in the area
Horace's DuskywingErynnis horatiusPyrginae19801980Single unsubstantiated observation