Common Butterflies of the Willamette Valley
The life cycle of a butterfly starts with an egg on an appropriate host plant that hatches into a caterpillar. The caterpillar grows to a sufficient size and then weaves a cocoon. Finally the adult develops wings and emerges from the cocoon to find a mate, breed, and lay eggs to start the next generation.
Below are some common adult butterflies that one can often seen during the summer at Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve or elsewhere in the Willamette Valley.
Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus)
Caterpillar feeds on broad-leaf trees such as bigleaf maple,willow, aspen, and cottonwood. Adult nectars on blackberry blossoms, thistles, yarrow, teasel, alfalfa, columbine, phlox, and rhododendron.
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
A very common European import. Caterpillar feeds on butterfly bush, dogwood, mints, fireweeds, trefoil, sweet pea, plectritis, blackberry, hawkbit, and many others.
Sara’s Orangetip (Anthocharis sara)
One of the earliest to appear in the spring. Caterpillar feeds on crucifers. Adult nectar favorites include dandelion, daisies, strawberries, monkeyflower, collinsia, rock cress, and mustards.
Orange Sulphur (Colia eurytheme)
Caterpillar feeds on pea leaves, alfalfa, and other plants. Adult nectars on clover, hawkbit, fleabane, asters, marigolds, red clover, and Rubus.
Boisduval’s Blue (Plebeius icarioides)
Caterpillar feeds on lupines. Adult nectars on lupines and composites.
Subspecies Fender’s Blue is currently found in only a couple Willamette Valley locations.
Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)
Caterpillar feeds on a variety of host plants. Adult nectars on a great variety of flowers including alfalfa, wild onion, loosestrife, mints, clover, and goldenrod.
Purplish Copper (Lycaena helloides)
Caterpillar feeds on docks and knotweeds. Adults nectar on thyme, heather, catnip, aster, clover, buttercup, trefoil, mints, gumweed, ragwort, hawkbit, fleabane, thistle, glasswort, and knotweed.
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Caterpillar feeds on thistle. Adults nectar on butterfly bush, rabbitbrush, Canada thistle, aster, clover, chokecherry, dogwood, mints, and dandelion.
Lorquin’s Admiral (Limenitis lorquini)
Caterpillar feeds on willow, aspen, cottonwood, serviceberry, spirea, ocean spray, apple, cherry, and mountain balm. Adult nectars on dogbane, mustards, yarrow, thistle, and various fruits.
Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
Caterpillar feeds on various trees. Adult nectars on currants, asters, and various fruits.
Woodland Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanoides)
Caterpillar feeds on various grasses. Adult nectars on mints, garden herbs, fireweed, butterfly bush, heather, oxeye daisy, pearly everlasting, hawkbit, ragwart, selfheal, phlox, sweet pea, and tansy.
Propertius Duskywing (Erynnis propertius)
Caterpillar feeds on Garry (Oregon White) Oak.
Sources: Photos were selected from http:\\www.dirttime.ws by Dennis Deck. Caterpillar and adult plant use information was derived from The Butterflies of Cascadia by Robert Michael Pyle.