Butterflies of the Florida Keys
Click on images to explore butterflies of the Keys by family
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There have been 34 species of Skippers reported from the Keys. Skippers are typically smaller in size and can be difficult to identify on the wing due to their elusive habits and strong flight. Skippers are unique in having a hooked antanna at the tip. Most skipper caterpillars create a "tent" for themselves by folding a leaf in two or attaching several leaves with silk, closing themselves inside.
There have been 10 Swallowtail species reported from the Keys. Swallowtails are large butterflies that are typically very "showy". Most notably from the Keys is the endangered Schaus' Swallowtail.
Pieridae: Whites and Sulphurs
There have been 20 whites and Sulphurs reported from the Keys. Typically, this group is easy to attract to a butterfly garden if you simply have the right type of plant. With either a white or yellow coloration and very active habits, Whites and Sulphurs are usually very easy to spot if they are on the wing.
Lycaenidae: Blues and Hairstreaks
This is my favorite group! There have been 18 species of Lycaenids reported from the Keys. They are small, delicate and will surely go unoticed unless you purpose to search them out however they can have some of the most striking coloration and habits! Gardening for them is typically easy if you have the right types of nectar and host plants available.
There has only been one Metalmark species reported from the Keys. Metalmarks are small and very discrete but are tons of fun to observe once you find them!
Danaidae: Milkweed Butterflies
There are three Milkweed butterflies found in the Keys, the Monarch being the most readily found. These large, showy butterflies are closely associated with plants of the Milkweed family. They are typically toxic or at least distaistful to birds and other predators due to chemicals they retain from the plants that the larvae eat.
Nymphalidae: Brush-footed Butterflies
Nymphalids are a very diverse group of butterflies. There have been 29 species reported from the Keys. Many species of this family are unpredictable and can show up when you least expect it. Some Nymphalid butterflies can be baited with rotting fruit such as bananas and apples for closer observation.
There have been two species reported from the Keys although there are probably not any current colonies of either of these species residing in the Keys. Most Satyr species are locally common and are closely assosiated with their larval host plant. They are typically brown in color and are comfortable flying low to the ground in shrubs, grasses and bushes.