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Ontario Butterflies

If you visit Ontario in summer you'll see Ontario butterflies. Lots of them. 

The meadows and woodlots of Ontario are filled with butterflies flitting from flower to wildflower from May to September. Butterflies say summer more than any other animal.

The largest of Ontario's Butterflies is the 'mighty' Monarch, which is an overstatement for dramatic effect on my part because it's large but not huge.

It's just very brightly coloured and stands out brilliantly among the milkweed plants it feeds on.

Ontario Butterflies - Monarchs, Viceroys and Admirals

Monarch butterfly on Queen Anne's Lace, wildflower

This one isn't feeding on Milkweed, see our Ontario Wildflowers page, it's enjoying the nectar of Queen Anne's Lace.

Sadly, with the decline in milkweed, like so many other things it lives where we want to live and therefore loses out, there's been a noticeable decline in Monarchs.

The annual migration of monarchs from Canada to Mexico and their return in spring is something to see. They line the leaves of trees along the shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario in spring and fall either resting before crossing the lakes or resting after they've made the jump. I imagine thousands don't survive those long flights over water each year.

Viceroy butterfly, Ontario, Canada

Looking a lot like the Monarch, the Viceroy mimics the larger butterfly's coloring because Monarchs are poisonous from eating too much milkweed, while Viceroys aren't poisonous and would otherwise be good eating for birds.

Red Admiral, Ontario, Canad

Another one of the larger butterflies is the Red Admiral (or Admirable), which (like this one) often visit Hummingbird feeders in Ontario gardens. Its colouring is similar to the Monarch and Viceroy but not so regular, more blotches of color rather than a fixed pattern. It's also not so common as the other two.


The black swallowtail is also a large butterfly, almost the size of the Monarch, but where the Monarch is overwhelmingly red with black details, the swallowtail is dusky black with blue and orange patches on the trailing edges of its wings.

Yellow Swallowtail butterfly, Ontario, Canada

Another large Ontario butterfly, a yellow swallowtail this time. You'll see these throughout the late spring and summertime, mainly on tree blossoms like this lilac at the Lilac festival at the Royal Botanical Gardens' Arboretum.

Mourning Cloak butterfly, Ontario, Canada

This butterfly is a Mourning Cloak. It looks black with white-edged wings when you first see it but, looking closely, shows the wings to be a beautiful dark chestnut, fringed by blue dots and a primrose yellow lacy edge.

Sulphur or Sulfer butterfly, Ontario, Canada

This Sulphur, or Sulfer, is a common sight throughout Ontario's summer months, flitting across the grass from clover to vetch, its dusty sulphur-yellow wings looking just like a summer flower.

Blue Fritillary butterfly, Ontario, Canada

Fritillaries come in many colors, blue like this one or amber like the next one. These small butterflies hug the ground, flying up only when you walk through the meadow.

Buckeye butterfly, Ontario, Canada

This beautiful butterfly is a Buckeye, named, I guess, for the wing 'eyes' that do look like those of a deer. They aren't hugely common but you'll see them flitting among Ontario's meadow flowers in the height of the summer.

I've included the most common butterflies. The ones visitors are likely to see. For fuller look at our butterflies, visit this page here.

If you've enjoyed this page of butterflies, you may also like the pictures on our dragonfly photos page.

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