14 Rare Types of Butterflies (That You’ve Never Seen Before)


Rare Types of Butterflies

You are on vacation on a warm summer and you see an absolutely beautiful butterfly that you’ve never seen before! Could be that you’ve come across a rare type of butterfly and it may be one of 14 that we will discuss in this article.

Did you know that the temperature and light conditions at birth determine the look a butterfly will have? These warm and beautiful creatures signify the wellness of our environment.

A List of Rare Types of Butterflies

  1. Zebra Longwing Butterfly
  2. Ulysses Butterfly
  3. Peacock Pansy
  4. Emerald Swallowtail
  5. Clipper Butterfly
  6. Eighty Eight Butterfly
  7. Monarch Butterfly
  8. Dead Leaf Butterfly
  9. Forest Giant Owl Butterfly
  10. Blue Morpho
  11. Goliath Birdwing Butterfly
  12. Glass-winged Butterfly
  13. Adonis Blue
  14. Question Mark Butterfly

Rare Types of Butterflies (Species Overview)

Zebra Longwing Butterfly

Zebra Longwing Butterfly, rare types of butterflies
  • Scientific name: Heliconius charithonia
  • Appearance: Long narrow wings striped black and pale yellow; wingspan of 3 to 3.5 inches (7 to 9 cm)
  • Location: warm and damp tropical environments in central and northern South America.

The Zebra longwing is a rare type of butterfly that does not like to stay in the sun and hence spends a lot of time relaxing in the shade.

They tend to rest on the same spot every night and are the only types of butterflies that establish colonies.

The Zebra longwing butterfly likes to feed on nectar and pollen. They can live up to 4 months.

Ulysses Butterfly

Ulysses Butterfly
  • Scientific name: Papilio ulysses
  • Appearance: Bright blue; wingspan of 5.5 inches (14 cm)
  • Location: Tropical rainforest around Northern Queensland, Northern islands of Australia and Papua Guinea.

Ulysses is another rare type of butterfly that has a wing span of 100 and 130mm.

The Ulysses caterpillar is green and white similar to the plants they feed on. This provides them with excellent camouflage from predators.

Their dirt comprises pink flowered doughwood and plants kerosene wood among others.

They have an average lifespan of about four weeks. [1]

Peacock Pansy

Peacock Pansy
  • Scientific name: Junonia almana
  • Appearance: orange coloured; wingspan of 2 to 2.4 inches (5 to 6 cm)
  • Location: South Asia, Cambodia

The peacock Pansy is a unique and rare type of butterfly that exists in two different adult forms; dry–season form and wet-season form.

They vary mainly in the patterns on the underside of the wings with the dry-season form bearing few markings and the wet-season form having additional eyespots and lines.

Peacock pansies enjoy nectar from flowers. They can live up to 36 days.

Emerald Swallowtail

Emerald Swallowtail, rare types of butterflies
  • Scientific name: Papilio palinurus
  • Appearance: emerald winged; wingspan of about 3 to 4 inches (8 to 10 cm)
  • Location: Native to Southeast Asia; found in Burma, Peninsular Malaysia, Indonesia, Borneo, Sumatra and Philippines.

This butterfly is sometimes referred to as a banded peacock. They change color based on the angle of light. When viewed from below, they look like an entirely different butterfly.

They have bright bands on the upper side caused by the surface of unique tiny structures in the scales of the wings.

When the scales reflect blue and yellow light, the colors mix and are perceived as iridescent green bands hence its name. They can live for up to 1 month. [2]

Clipper Butterfly

Clipper Butterfly
  • Scientific name: Parthenos sylvia
  • Appearance: brown or  lilac-blue winged; wingspan of about 3 inches (8.5 to 9.0 cm).
  • Location: South Thailand and Malaysia.

The blue clipper butterfly is a pretty fast-flying butterfly. There are a variety of sub-species of the butterfly.

They like to eat flowers and prefer the smaller ones especially the Lantana which is among their favorite nectar sources. The lifespan of this butterfly is estimated to be 19 days.

Eighty Eight Butterfly

Eighty Eight Butterfly, A rare types of butterfly
  • Scientific name: Diaethria
  • Appearance: wingspan of 1.2 to 1.6 inches (3 to 4 cm); black and blue winged with black and white patterns.
  • Location: wet tropical forests in central and south America.

Eighty-eight is one of the rare types of butterflies that has 12 twelve species. Some species include; Cramer’s eighty-eight,  Anna’s eighty-eight among others.

This butterfly is considered a sign of good luck by some communities. As the name suggests, they have 88 or 98 numerals appearing on the underside of their hindwings but vary in color based on the specific species. [3]

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly
  • Scientific name: Danaus plexippus
  • Appearance: Orange or black winged; wingspan of 3.5 to 4 inches (9 to 10 cm.)
  • Location: North America.

This butterfly is sometimes referred to as the wanderer. This is attributed to the yearly migration during summer and autumn from the northern and central United States and southern Canada to Florida and Mexico.

Scientists named this butterfly Danaus plexippus which means sleepy transformation. This is because of their ability to hibernate and metamorphize.

The males are slightly larger than the females. They have a life expectancy of between four to five weeks.

Dead Leaf Butterfly

Dead Leaf Butterfly, Rare butterflies
  • Scientific name: Kalima inachus
  • Appearance: orange, black or brown winged; wingspan of 3 to 4.5 inches (8 to 11 cm
  • Location: India, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand.

The dead leaf butterfly is also known as the orange or indian oakleaf. This butterfly resembles a dry leaf with dark veins. This enables the butterfly to camouflage.

While it is considered to have compromised on beauty for camouflage, when it opens its wings, a beautiful luminous color pattern is revealed.

There are two forms of this butterfly; the dry-season and wet-season forms. They can live for about two weeks. [4]

Forest Giant Owl Butterfly

  • Scientific name: Caligo eurilochus
  • Appearance: wingspan of up to 7 inches (17 cm)
  • Location: Central and South America.

This butterfly resembles an owl and is one of the owl butterfly species.

The forest giant owl likes to feed on fermented fruit. Their wings have a distinct ‘eye’ gaze which can be spotted from a distance.

They like bananas and sometimes feed on the dung of large mammals in the forest. The males are known for fighting in the search for a mate.

Blue Morpho

Blue Morpho
  • Scientific name: Morpho peleides
  • Appearance: bright blue and black winged; wingspan of 5 to 8 inches (12 to 20 cm)
  • Location: tropical environments in Central and South America

The blue morpho is among the largest butterflies in the world. The underside of the blue morpho’s wings is dull brown with numerous eyespots which act as a camouflage against predators.

The males are bigger than the females and appear to be brighter as well.

Goliath Birdwing Butterfly

Goliath Birdwing Butterfly
  • Scientific name: Ornithoptera goliath
  • Appearance: dark brown; wingspan of about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 21 cm)
  • Location: New Guinea

This is the second largest butterfly in the world after Queen Alexandra’s birdwing. The males and females are differently colored.

The males have majorly yellow, gold and green colored wings while the females have more of brown, cream or yellow.

This species is the second most poisonous butterfly in the world. However, it cannot kill humans.  They are also an income generator for farmers in New Guinea who rear them for sale. [12]

Glass-winged Butterfly

Glass-winged Butterfly
  • Scientific name: Greta oto
  • Appearance: Transparent glass-like wings; wingspan of 2 to 2.4 inches (5 to 6 cm)
  • Location: Mexico, Panama and Colombia.

As the name suggests, this butterfly resembles a glass and has tissues between their veins in place of scales as the ordinary butterfly.

This feature allows for camouflage against predatory birds and thus keeps them safe. They fly for long distances.

Adonis Blue

Adonis Blue Butterfly
  • Scientific name: Lysandra bellagrus/Polyommatus bellargus
  • Appearance: blue winged; wingspan of about 1.4 inches (3.8 cm)
  • Location: Western, Central and South Europe, South Russia, Iraq and Iran.

The adonis blue likes to live in sunny, south-facing grasslands rich in herbs. They do not like to fly far and as such colonies can be isolated and prone to extinction if their habitat is compromised.

Question Mark Butterfly

Question Mark Butterfly
  • Scientific name: Polygonia interrogationis
  • Appearance: orange, black, brown wings; wingspan of 1.8 to 3.0 inches (4.5 to 7.6 cm)
  • Location: North America

Polygonia, the genus name of this butterfly, is a Greek word meaning ‘many angles’ and is used to describe the outlines of the wings. This butterfly is medium-sized and likes suburbs and wooded areas. They have a lifespan of 6 to 20 days.

There you go! 14 rare types of butterflies that are absolutely beautiful.

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