Massachusetts State Butterfly

Let's Pick a Massachusetts State Butterfly!

Massachusetts has an official state bean (baked navy), a state muffin (corn), and a state rock (Roxbury Puddingstone), but no state butterfly! It’s time to change that.

Butterflies are beautiful and have much to say about the health of our environment. That’s why declining populations due to loss of habitat and other environmental threats are a cause for great concern.

To raise awareness and celebrate the world that is butterflies, The Massachusetts Butterfly Club has partnered with Girl Scout Troop #85103 of Norfolk to nominate three candidates for Massachusetts State Butterfly.

Meet the candidates (for more information, click on the butterfly photo)

Black Swallowtail

Scientific Name: Papilio polyxenes
Color: Black with yellow dots and orange patch. Males more brightly colored than females.
Wing Span: 2.7-3.3 inches
Caterpillar Food Plants: The main host plant for the caterpillar in the wild is Queen Anne's Lace, but they also eat garden plants like carrots, parsley, dill, and fennel.
Adult Food: Black Swallowtails prefer to nectar plants like Zinnia, Joe Pye Weed, and Purple Coneflower.
Habitat: gardens, yards, wet and dry meadows
Relationship to MA: Common resident species and widespread in Massachusetts. This is a very well-known butterfly, familiar to nature lovers, gardeners, and outdoor enthusiasts throughout much of the East.

Great Spangled Fritillary

Scientific name: Speyeria cybele
Color: Upperside of male is tan to orange with black scales on forewing veins; female tawny, darker than male.
Wing Span: 2.5-4 inches
Caterpillar Food Plants: Violets
Adult Food: Nectar from milkweeds, thistles, ironweed and many other flower species.
Habitat: Open, moist places including fields, valleys, pastures, meadows, open woodland, and prairies.
Relationship to MA: One of our most common summer butterflies. Seen in gardens and meadows throughout nearly all of the state.

Mourning Cloak

Scientific Name: Nymphalis antiopa
Color: Upperside side is dark brown/maroon with pale yellow edges.
Wing Span: 2.25-4 inches.
Caterpillar Food Plants: Trees including willows, elms, and poplars.
Adult Food: Tree Sap, especially that of oak. Will also feed on rotting fruit.
Habitat: Forest borders, parks, gardens, open-woodlands, groves
Relationship to MA: Many Mourning Cloaks overwinter as adults in Massachusetts and they are among the very first butterflies to emerge in the springtime.

Troop # 85103 of Norfolk - We have spread the word about the importance of butterfly conservation to the many residents of Norfolk. The girls have learned a lot from our project.
“Butterflies are an important contributor to our ecosystem. The butterfly has an interesting life cycle that is studied by scientists. Scientists keep a close eye on butterflies because they indicate negative changes to the environment. Butterflies are similar to the bees and help promote plant diversity. The butterfly is a key factor in maintaining a healthy environment and it is important that people are aware of the butterfly's contribution to the state of Massachusetts. By having a state butterfly, we will increase attention to this small, but essential, part of our world.”

How to Vote: Voting is open from September 15th through October 15th; one vote per device, please.
The Survey Monkey link for voting

See more details on Facebook

For more information on how your group or school can help please email:

Visit The Massachusetts Butterfly Club website for all things butterfly!