Almost 70 species of butterflies have been seen in Dickinson County, Iowa, and the time of year can be told from which ones are most active. In fact, you can tell when spring is making its appearance by which butterflies are hatching after overwintering in the chrysalis state or from spots further south.

Photo of a mourning cloak

Mourning cloak

The mourning cloak might be one of the earliest butterflies that can be seen each spring, with flights beginning as soon as early March, and the red admiral soon follows in late March.

The cabbage white soon follows with flights beginning as soon as early April. The pearl crescent overwinters in Iowa and can hatch in early April, with multiple broods through late October.

The common checkered-skipper doesn't overwinter in Iowa, but it can be seen throughout the year. The first butterflies arrive from the south in early April, and some have been seen as late as November.

Photo of a black swallowtail

Black swallowtail

Black and eastern tiger swallowtails are also a sign of spring, because they overwinter in Iowa and have their first flights April through early June. American ladies emerge in mid-April and can be spotted through mid-August.

The checkered white hatches mid-April and is common in the region and into Minnesota during April and May.

Photo of an eastern comma

Eastern comma

The eastern comma overwinters as an adult, and they awaken in mid-April and fly through mid-May. Their offspring then hatch in mid-June to mid-July.

The 69 species that have been documented in Dickinson County are:

Silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus)
Horace's duskywing (Erynnis horatius)
Wild indigo duskywing (Erynnis baptisiae)
Common checkered-skipper (Pyrgus communis)
Common sootywing (Pholisora catullus)
Least skipper (Ancyloxpha numitor)
Poweshiek skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek)
Ottoe skipper (Hesperia ottoe)
Sachem (Atalopedes campestris)
Peck's skipper (Polites peckius)
Tawny-edged skipper (Polites themistocles)
Crossline skipper (Polites origenes)
Long dash (Polites mystic)
Northern broken-dash (Wallengrenia egeremet)
Arogos skipper (Atrytone arogos)
Delaware skipper (Anatrytone logan)
Hobomok skipper (Poanes hobomok)
Mulberry wing (Poanes massaoit)
Broad-winged skipper (Poanes viator)
Black dash (Euphyes conspicua)
Dion skipper (Euphyes dion)
Two-spotted skipper (Eyphes bimacula)
Dun skipper (Euphyes vestris)
Dusted skipper (Atrytonopsis hianna)
Black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)
Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
Giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)
Checkered white (Pontia protodice)
Cabbage white (Pieris rapae)
Clouded sulphur (Colias philodice)
Orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme)
Southern dogface (Colias cesonia)
Dainty sulphur (Nathalis iole)
Gray copper (Lycaena dione)
Bronze copper (Lycaena hyllus)
Purplish copper (Lycaena helloides)
Coral hairstreak (Satyrium titus)
Acadian hairstreak (Satyrium acadica)
Banded hairstreak (Satyrium calanus)
Striped hairstreak (Satyrium liparops)
Eastern tailed-blue (Everes comyntas)
Summer azure (Celastrina neglecta)
Silvery blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus)
Reakirt's blue (Echinargus isola)
Melissa blue (Lycaeides melissa)
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
Variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)
Great spangled fritillary (Speyeria cybele)
Aphrodite fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite)
Regal fritillary (Speyeria idalia)
Silver-bordered fritillary (Boloria selene)
Meadow fritillary (Boloria bellona)
Gorgone checkerspot (Chlosyne gorgone)
Pearl crescent (Phyciodes tharos)
Buckeye (Junonia coenia)
Question mark (Polygonia interrogationis)
Eastern comma (Polygonia comma)
Milbert's tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti)
Mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Painted lady (Vanessa cardui)
American lady (Vanessa virgiensis)
Red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax)
Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)
Hackberry emperor (Asterocampa celtis)
Eyed brown (Satyrodes eurydice)
Little wood-satyr (Megisto cymela)
Common ringlet (Coenonmypha tullia)
Common wood-nymph (Cercyonis pegala)

Thank you to "The Butterflies of Iowa" by Dennis Schlicht, John C. Downey and Jeffrey C. Nekola for the information.

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