In spring they fly again through the local gardens, the many around 3700 species of butterflies and moths. Often these cannot be told apart, because many are similar in terms of colors and patterns, while others impress with their uniqueness. Anyone who owns a colorful garden also offers butterflies an attractive habitat. In order to be able to better distinguish between the flying journeymen, the following list was created.

Butterflies (Lepidoptera) – Definition

In spring and summer they again flutter through the local gardens and over the meadows and fields. However, if you look closely, you will have noticed that there have been fewer in recent years. Unfortunately, the population of butterfly species has declined by about 10 percent over the past decade. But countermeasures can be taken with colourful, diverse gardens that offer the insects the preferred habitat.

With 3700 different species in Germany alone, this is the second richest insect order after the beetles. And every year another 700 species are discovered worldwide. Butterflies and moths are distributed all over the world, only Antarctica has to be excluded here. Since the insects start their life as caterpillars, they are often not welcome in gardens and fields. But almost everyone enjoys the hatched, finished moths. In the following list, the butterfly species are not listed according to day or night butterflies, but according to their color and conspicuousness. Because here there are the following differences:

  • colorful brown butterflies
  • colorful butterflies
  • muted colored butterflies
Note: If you look closely at the different species of butterflies flying in the garden, you can see that there are many brown motley butterflies. In addition, the muted moths, such as white or blue insects, are often on the move. The really brightly colored butterfly species are immediately noticeable, but are not seen that often.

Colorful brown butterflies

The colorful brown butterflies include many species known in the local latitudes from kind to well-known butterfly species such as the fox or the admiral. These are widespread in the local gardens and therefore very well known. There are also other brown-colored specimens that are also native to our climate zones, but are not mentioned that often. In the following list some of the predominantly brown colored butterfly species that attract attention with their colorful patterns have been compiled:

Admiral (Vanessa Atalanta)

  • Synonym Pyrameis Atalanta
  • butterflies
  • migratory species
  • Breeding area in the Mediterranean Sea
  • different habitats
  • preferably rural areas
  • Wingspan 50-60 mm
  • black background with fiery tint
  • Fore wing tops brown
Note: The admiral migrates each year from the south, where it reproduces, north to the local gardens. Depending on the country in which the population is at home, these butterfly species also fly to the southern mountains or even up to southern Scandinavia.

Brown Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris)

  • live in forest clearings, in tall grass
  • prefer blossom-rich areas
  • Underside of antennal bulb colored brown
  • Light orange-brown on top
  • Wing span between 27 and 34 millimeters
  • Flight time between June and August
  • Overwinters as a caterpillar
  • Butterfly feeds on nectar of different flowers
  • Attract with Carthusian carnations or meadow knapweed

Big fox (Nymphalis polychoros)

  • peregrine
  • flies in from southern Europe
  • Often found in warmer climates
  • lives on the edges of forests and in orchards
  • Wing span between 50 and 55 millimeters
  • Basic color orange-brown with many black spots
  • bruises on the edge
  • feeds on escaping tree sap
  • Flight time from June to September
  • population overwintering here flies from March
Tip: The greater tortoiseshell loves the sun and you can often see this moth spreading its wings and basking in the sun.

Greater Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja)

  • Occurrence in Europe
  • lives in moorland and open hill country
  • Wing span between 50 and 55 millimeters
  • a smaller species of butterfly species
  • orange-brown base color
  • then black lines and dots
  • the silvery mother-of-pearl spots are on the underside
  • Flight time from June to August
  • fast, powerful flight
  • copes well with strong winds
Tip: You can often see the Fritillary Fritillary by the sea on cliffs and in the dunes.

Lesser kingfisher (Limenitis camilla)

  • lives in mixed and deciduous forests
  • prefers a moist and shady environment
  • habitat across Europe
  • Wingspan from 45 to 52 millimeters
  • Hind wings dark brown
  • with white to bluish spots
  • a white line runs across
  • Flight time between June and August
  • overwinters as a caterpillar

Landkärtchen (Araschnia levana)

  • belongs to the small noble butterflies
  • widespread in Central Europe
  • lives in open woodland, along rivers and streams
  • not based in cities
  • Wing span between 28 and 40 millimeters
  • red-brown wings streaked with many other colors
  • reminiscent of roads on a map
  • two generations a year
  • Flight time May to June and August to September
  • Caterpillars feed on nettles

Wall fox (Pararge megaera)

  • butterflies
  • living space all over Europe
  • warm, dry areas preferred
  • Cliffs, dunes, quarries, hills or heathland
  • prefers to settle on walls
  • Wingspan between 40 and 50 millimeters
  • Basic color red-brown with dark stripes and spots
  • Flight time depending on the climate from March to September
  • two to three generations a year
  • moves quickly with flapping wings

Red-brown oxeye (Maniola tithonus)

  • preferred habitat on meadows and at the edge of fields
  • often found in gardens
  • one of the widespread butterfly species
  • Wingspan between 30 and 50 millimeters
  • brown wings and with lightened orange area
  • Flight time from July to August
  • feeds on flower nectar
  • overwinters as a caterpillar
  • Butterflies from the eye moth family

Trauermantel (Nymphalis antiopa)

  • wandering butterfly
  • Distribution throughout Europe
  • lives in parks and rural areas
  • loves it by the riverside
  • Wingspan between 55 and 75 millimeters
  • Wings with dark brown background
  • Wing tops with blue polka dots
  • Hibernation as a moth
  • Flight time of old generation from March to June
  • new generation then again until September

Colorful butterflies

The brightly colored butterflies differ from the brightly colored brown butterflies in that they have unusual bright colors such as blue or red. This distinguishes them from other types of butterflies and they are often considered exotic when they are found in domestic gardens or on meadows and in forests. Nevertheless, these colorful butterfly species have their center of life in the local latitudes. The following list gives a small excerpt of this fascinating colorful biodiversity:

Aurorafalter (Anthocharis cardamines)

  • likes to live on the edges of forests, on damp meadows
  • loves wildflowers
  • Wing span 40 to 50 millimeters
  • orange colored tips on the wings
  • the pattern on the underside is reminiscent of camouflage
  • Body covered with black hair
  • Females usually only lay one egg in May
  • Flight time from March to June
  • hibernates as a pupa
  • Butterflies from the white butterfly family

Common blood droplet (Zygaena filipendulae)

  • also known as the six-spotted ram or red ram
  • Habitat in Europe and Asia
  • prefers dry meadows and sunny slopes
  • found up to 3,500 meters above sea level
  • Wing span between 30 and 40 millimeters
  • six large red spots on a green-black background
  • Flight time from July to August
  • overwinters as a caterpillar
  • butterflies

Great copper butterfly (Chrysophanus virgaureae)

  • further name ducat butterfly
  • Located in Central and Southern Europe
  • Habitat moist moors and marshes
  • Wingspan between 30 and 40 millimeters
  • Basic color bright red-orange
  • black wing fringes
  • black spot on forewing
  • Flight time from May to June and August to September
  • two generations
  • overwinters as a young caterpillar
Tip: The diurnal copper copper butterfly loves to rest on low plants in the sun. Here you have the opportunity to take a closer look at the butterfly.

Greater Purple Fries (Apatura iris)

  • large diversity of species of purple butterflies
  • Greater Purple Butterfly distributed in Europe
  • black base color that shimmers blue
  • Females lack the iridescent effect
  • white spots on wings
  • also a circular eye in orange
  • Butterflies feed on the honeydew of aphids
  • Flight time July to August
  • butterflies
Note: The greater purple butterfly is a species of noble butterfly.

Märzveilchenfalter (Argynnis adippe)

  • also Fiery Fritillary
  • The food of the caterpillars, which mainly feed on violets, gives it its name
  • located throughout Europe
  • Habitat dunes, cliffs and hills by the sea
  • or in bog areas
  • greenish ground color with silvery spots
  • Wingspan from 42 to 55 millimeters
  • Flight time from June to August
  • overwinters as a caterpillar
  • can move through powerful flight even in strong winds
  • feeds on the nectar of thistles

Kidney Hairstreak (Thecla betulae)

  • also peppered fringes
  • occurs everywhere in Europe
  • is rarely seen
  • lives in forest areas
  • Wing undersides bright yellow-orange
  • broad orange kidney spot on forewing
  • Wing span of 40 to 50 millimeters
  • tailed hind wings
  • Flight time from July to October
  • fast, seemingly aimless flight
Note: It can be very interesting if you can observe the peppered hairstreak at its wedding on a walk in the forest. Then all the moths of the colony gather and perform their wedding dance around a chosen tree.

Purpurbär (Rhyparia purpurata)

  • also known as the goose bear
  • spread throughout Europe
  • rarely found
  • Habitat Forest meadows, sandy heaths, slopes
  • Wingspan between 38 and 50 millimeters
  • Flight time between June and July
  • golden yellow color with dark spots
  • purple hind wings
  • overwinters as a caterpillar
  • Moth

Schwalbenschwanz (Papilio machaon)

  • belongs to the family of knight moths
  • is one of the largest butterfly species on earth
  • European species does not reach the size of the tropical species
  • preferred habitat flower meadows
  • Wing span from 50 to 75 millimeters
  • two generations a year
  • Flight time April to August
  • Lifespan of the individual animal only four weeks
  • black base colour
  • light yellow rectangles
Note: Unfortunately, the swallowtail has become less and less common in recent years and is already a protected species in some countries.

Spanish flag (Callimorpha quadripunctaria)

  • also Russian Bear
  • not so widespread in Central Europe
  • sunny, warm, steppe-like or sandy areas
  • even in sunny parks
  • orange hindwings with black spots
  • black-blue forewings with light stripes
  • Wing span between 42 and 52 millimeters
  • has a visible proboscis
  • for nectar from flowers
  • Flight time from May to July
Note: Even if the Russian bear is a moth, you can mostly observe this moth in flight during the day.

Tagpfauenauge (Inachis io)

  • one of the best-known noble and spotted moths
  • different habitats, prefers forest but also gardens
  • Upper side of wings with large colorful peacock eyes
  • iridescent yellow, blue and black
  • Wingspan between 50 and 60 millimeters
  • Flight time from July to October
  • overwinters as a moth
  • often on attics or vacant buildings
  • butterflies

Mutedly colored Lepidoptera

The mutedly colored butterfly species are often decried as moths, because at first glance only colorful butterflies are thought of. But there are also beautiful species in light yellow, white or light blue that do not belong to the moths but definitely to the butterflies and moths. The following list of the mutedly colored butterfly species was created so that these can soon be recognized in the garden:

Tree White (Aporia crataegi)

  • peregrine
  • Habitat hedges, fruit trees, clover fields
  • transparent white wings
  • criss-crossed with black veins
  • feeds on the honeydew of bean aphids
  • also from the nectar of the flowers
  • Wing span of 50 to 65 millimeters
  • Flight time May to July
  • Overwinters as a caterpillar in a common web
  • butterflies

Brombeer-Zipfelfalter (Callophrys rubi)

  • Also called Green Hairstreak
  • Bluelings family
  • Basic color light green
  • Top matt brown
  • Habitat in bog, lowland or woodland
  • very small with wingspan between 25 and 30 millimeters
  • Flight time from March to July
  • hibernates as a pupa
  • butterflies

Yellow spotted moth (Pseudopantera macularia)

  • also Pantherspanner
  • habitat almost everywhere
  • Basic color light yellow
  • with black spots
  • Wingspan from 24 to 28 millimeters
  • Flight time from April to July
  • feeds on the nectar of many flowers
  • Hibernation as a pupa
  • butterflies

Large Cabbage White (Pieris brassicae)

  • Family of whites with 2500 species
  • about 45 live in Europe
  • preferred habitat vegetable beds
  • Wingspan between 50 and 65 millimeters
  • white wings with black tips
  • two to three generations a year
  • Flight time from April to October
  • a female lays about 300 eggs
  • Autumn generation overwinters as a pupa
  • butterflies

Green Leaf (Hipparchus papilionaria)

  • family of peepers
  • Basic color leaf green
  • fades with lifetime
  • Legs and antennae orange
  • Habitat deciduous forest and forest edge
  • Wing span between 45 and 50 millimeters
  • Flight time between June and August
  • Moth attracted to light
  • Overwinters as a caterpillar

Checkerboard (Melanargia galathea)

  • further name women’s board
  • yellowish basic color
  • with numerous black spots
  • prefers dry meadows, forest edges, scree slopes
  • Wing span between 37 and 52 millimeters
  • Flight time depending on the climate between June and September
  • always to be found in the vicinity of the colony
  • flies with slow flapping wings
  • overwinters as a caterpillar
  • butterflies

Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx cleopatra)

  • preferred habitat hedges, gardens, forest edges
  • belongs to the yellow species
  • Wing span between 50 and 55 millimeters
  • yellow basic colour
  • large areas of forewings orange
  • individual specimens live up to ten months
  • overwinters as a pupa or moth
  • butterflies

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