Butterflies have been on our earth for millions of years after evolving from an ancient moth-like insect. They are one of the few insects that people enjoy finding and looking at. Their bright colors and unique patterns brighten gardens and backyards, bringing symbols of hope and new beginnings. Do you have a specific butterfly you need to identify? Check out these ten types of black and yellow butterflies!
The giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) has a striking appearance that many find appealing in their gardens. They are the largest butterflies in North America and are common within their range. However, this species is regarded as a pest to citrus farms. Their larval stage causes significant damage to young plants, earning them the nickname “orange pups.”
Location/Habitat: They have an abundant population in the Eastern United States and some parts of Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, and Cuba. They inhabit deciduous forests and citrus orchards.
Description: Giant swallowtails have black wings with horizontal yellow lines across the forewings and diagonal lines across the hindwings. They are most notable for their size, reaching up to seven inches long.
Yucca Giant Skipper
Yucca giant skippers (Megathymus yuccae) are an early-season butterfly known for their large and robust body. You will find them in many habitats, although spotting one can be rare. Adults don’t typically congregate in groups, and males are very swift fliers.
Location/Habitat: They are permanent residents in the Southern United States and Northern Mexico. This species inhabits many environments, including deserts, foothills, and woodlands. They are specifically attracted to yucca plants (hence the name).
Description: Their wings are brown with yellow spots, and their undersides are mottled black and gray.
The southern festoon (Zerynthia polyxena) often gets confused with the Spanish festoon and features a complicated pattern on its wings. Although widespread, this species is rare within its range and only seen locally. The southern festoon has many subspecies that slightly differ based on location.
Location/Habitat: They are native to Central and Southern Europe, stretching from the Balkans to Kazakhstan. They prefer warm, open areas in grassy meadows, river banks, rocky cliffs, vineyards, and cultivated land.
Description: Southern festoons are light yellow with intricate black and brown patterning and red spots. Females tend to be slightly longer with lighter coloring. You can tell them apart from the Spanish festoon by the presence of blue on its hindwings.
Northern Chequered Skipper
The northern chequered skipper (Carterocephalus silvicola) belongs to the skipper family, comprising 4,000 species, with only 40 native to Europe. Skippers are typically more robust than regular butterflies and feature larger heads and more muscular bodies and wings. They are fairly common within their range, and you can see them flying in May and June.
Location/Habitat: They range from Northern Europe to Northeastern Asia. And they are commonly found in the central and southern regions of Finland. You can spot them in damp flowered meadows and lush forests.
Description: Northern chequered skippers are yellow with blackish-brown spots and patterns.
The Spanish festoon (Zerynthia rumina) closely resembles the southern festoon due to its intricate patterns of black and yellow. But you can more clearly see the red spots on its forewings. Their range overlaps with the southern festoon, but the Spanish festoon occupies more northern regions. This species is not picky about its habitats, and you will find it flying in April and May.
Location/Habitat: The Spanish festoon occupies regions in Southern France, Spain, Portugal, and North African countries. And they prefer scrubby grasslands and woodland clearings.
Description: They feature ornate patterns of yellow and blackish-brown. This species features many red spots but lacks blue coloring on its hindwing.
The yellow pansy (Jumonia hierta) belongs to the Nymphalid family, the largest butterfly family with over 6,000 species. They are native to the Palaeotropics and considered migratory. Their flight is fast, and they glide close to the ground. And they are well known for their vivid coloring of black, orange, yellow, and indigo.
Location/Habitat: As a Palaeotropic species, the yellow pansy is native to Africa and Asia. You will find them in drier areas like grasslands, farmlands, forest edges, and semi-deserts.
Description: Each wing features orange and yellow coloring edged in black or brown with white spots. Both males and females feature brilliant blue spots.
The Cairns birdwing (Ornithoptera euphorion) is the largest butterfly in Australia. They are abundant throughout their range, where they often sit on Lantana and Hibiscus flowers in suburban gardens. They are famous for their rare genetic mutation, where females are pale and males are golden.
Location/Habitat: This birdwing is endemic to Queensland, Australia, where it inhabits rainforests in the wet tropics region.
Description: Females can reach almost six inches and feature black wings with white and yellow patches. Males have black wings with emerald green and yellow patches.
The chocolate albatross (Appias lyncida) is a tropical species from the Pieridae family, which encompasses 1,100 species from Asia and Africa. It is common and abundant in some areas while scarce and local in other regions. This species shows seasonal dimorphism, with a wet season and dry season form.
Location/Habitat: The chocolate albatross is native to Southeast Asia, where it lives in India, China, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Philippines, Indochina, Taiwan, and Hainan. They are forest butterflies, preferring moist highlands near stream banks and jungle clearings.
Description: Males are lemon yellow with black margins, and females are white and dark brown.
Mourning cloaks (Nymphalis antiopa), also known as the “Camberwell beauty” in Britain, are the state insects of Montana and have one of the longest lifespans in the butterfly world (11 to 12 months). They are a large species native to North America and Eurasia, where they are a common sight throughout their range.
Location/Habitat: You will find the mourning cloak in almost all parts of North America, Northern Europe, and Asia. They live in many different habitats. However, they are especially fond of hardwood forests in cold mountainous regions.
Description: Their uppersides are blackish-brown and edged in light yellow with bright blue spots. The undersides are dark brown and edged in light brown.
Yellow coster butterflies (Acraea issoria) are a small species from the Nymphalidae family. They are unique for their leathery wings and tough exoskeleton, which protects them from predators like lizards. And it also exudes a noxious fluid from the glands in its legs.
Location/Habitat: The yellow coster lives in the Western Himalayas in Asia.
Description: This species is yellowish-orange with thin black lines and edges.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.