Select Butterflies and Skippers
Arizona's Sycamore Canyons

Water in the arid and semiarid regions of Arizona is often concentrated along narrow canyons draining from the high mountains. With a great variety of plants these riparian corridors support a great diversity of insects and especially butterflies. At least a few butterfly types can be found year round. The greates abundance and diversity are to be found in spring, March to May, and again in late summer, July to September, after the summer rains. Positive identification of small species might require capture, however, with close focus binoculars and zoom lens cameras, good images will allow identification in the majority of instances. This is a new guide and new species will be added as photos become available and descriptive text pages are written. If a butterfly species is already covered in detail in another guide on Arizona Naturalists an icon may so indicate. The user should use the 'back button' on the browser to return to this particular guide page.

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Cloudless Sulfur

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Large, mostly pure yellow and fast flying. Visits flowers but is wary. More info

Two-tailed Swallowtail

Two-tailed Swallowtail

Very large yellow butterflies with black and blue markings. Often seen patrolling up and down sycamore-lined canyons. More ...

Red-bordered Satyr

Red-bordered Satyr

Flies among trees near to the ground and not to flowers. Perches with wings folded above. Red and lavender markings along edge of hind wing. More ...

Bordered Patch photo by Bruce Walsh

Red Satyr

Three pairs of eyespots on a plain brown and rusty butterly. Flies close to ground among trees. More ...

Nabokov's Satyr

Nabokov's Satyr

Flies close to ground between trees. Brown often conceals against dead leaves and bare soil. Pearly splotch on hindwing margin. More ...

Mourning Cloak

Mourning Cloak

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Cream-colored border around a deep purple-brown center. Likely to be seen flying on warm days through winter and early spring near willow trees, More ...

Mylitta Crescent

Mylitta Crescent

Small, bright orange butterfly marked with intricate checker pattern. Avid flower visitor. More ...

Pipevine Swallowtail

Checkered White

Also occurs in upland Sonoran DesertMostly white with some dark gray marks. Spring and summer broods. More ...

Bordered Patch photo by Bruce Walsh

Bordered Patch

On a background of black may be wide or narrow patches of white, yellow or orange. More ...

Buckeye

Buckeye

Ground color is rich brown. Blue-centered spots along wing margins. Often lands upon damp soil in sunshine. More ...

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Dark brown butterfly with red-orange submarginal bands. Mostly avoids flowers preferring sap, carrion or dung. More ...

Hackberry Emperor

Hackberry Emperor

Golden brown butterfly with black and white spots. Eye-spots below with blue centers. More ...

Arizona Red Spotted Purple

Arizona Red Spotted Purple

Iridescent blue-purple on black with row of lighter spots along outer margins. No tails. Flies along streams near willows. More ...

Pipevine Swallowtail

Pipevine Swallowtail

Also occurs in upland Sonoran DesertLarge, irridescent blue-black butterfly with tails. Flies conspicuously within riparian habitats, avidly visiting flowers. More ...

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

Bright, showy orange butterfly with black vein marks. Also shows up in towns near passion flowers are cultivated. More ...

Arizona Sister photo by Bruce Walsh

Arizona Sister

Very dark background accented by bold white diagonal arising from orange spot in forewing. Visits sap and dung but not flowers. More ...

Spring Azure

Spring Azure

Bright blue, nickel-sized butterfly. Beneath is silvery gray marked with slightly grayer marks. More ...

Marine Blue

Marine Blue

Lavender-blue and quite small. Pair of small high spots near posterior margin. Gathers abundantly at damp soil. More ...

Zela Metal-mark photo by Mike Plagens

Zela Metal-Mark

Forewings are rich brown with black chevrons, while the hind wings are rusty orange with chevrons. More ...

Northern Cloudy-wing

Northern Cloudy-wing

Upper wing sufaces are dark brown with a bronzy cast and several small clear/transparent triangles.. More ...

Silver-spotted Skipper photo by Bruce Walsh

Silver-spotted Skipper

Large as far as skippers go. White-silver patch on hindwing. Lands with wings partly closed. More ...


Arizona Naturalist
Sycamore Canyons


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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 20 August 2014,
updated 13 Sept. 2017.