With a few exceptions, butterflies are among the most popular insects. Unfortunately, many butterflies are now endangered because their habitat is disappearing. But how long do animals actually live?


The lifespan of butterflies can be viewed in different ways. The longest life expectancy is found when counting from the egg to the death of the adult moth. However, since butterflies have developed different overwintering strategies, this approach seems problematic. Because some species hibernate as adult moths in hibernation, while others survive the cold season as eggs, caterpillars or pupae. In addition, with these forms of hibernation, the lifespan of the adult butterfly is comparatively short.


The life expectancy of adult butterflies is extremely different in view of the diversity of species, in Germany alone there are around 190 species of butterflies. The species that overwinter as adult butterflies have the longest lifespans. In this country, however, there are only a few species of butterflies . The majority of butterflies live as adults for about two to three weeks. A life expectancy of 40 days for butterflies is considered to be very long.

Winter butterflies

  • Admiral (Vanessa atalanta): 25 to 60 days (without hibernation), migratory butterfly, with hibernation in Germany about 300 days
  • C moth (Polygonia c-album): 25 to 60 days (without hibernation), incl. hibernation approx. 300 days
  • Big tortoiseshell (Nymphalis polychloros): about 300 days with overwintering
  • Small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae, Nymphalis urticae): 25 to 60 days (without hibernation), incl. hibernation approx. 240 days
  • Peacock butterfly (Aglais io, Syn.: Inachis io): 25 to 60 days (without hibernation), incl. hibernation approx. 280 to 360 days
  • Mourning cloak (Vanessa antiopa, Nymphalis antiopa): approx. 300 days incl. hibernation
  • Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni): 340 days including hibernation
Note: Although the peacock butterfly can live up to 360 days, the brimstone butterfly is considered the most long-lived butterfly in Germany.

Lifespan from about one month to three months

  • Blue Oak Hairstreak (Neozephyrus quercus): 32 days
  • Large cabbage white (Pieris brassicae): about 60 days
  • Greater oxeye (Maniola jurtina): 40 days (females)
  • Imperial Mantle (Argynnis paphia): 25 to 50 days
  • Kidney Hairstreaks (birch hairstreaks, scientific name Thecla betulae): 30 to 60 days
  • Plum Hairstreak (Satyrium pruni): 30 to 60 days
  • Forest board game (Pararge aegeria): 30 to 60 days

Lifespan from one week to a good four weeks

Between one to two weeks

  • Alexis blue (Glaucopsyche alexis)
  • Aurorafalter (Anthocharis cardamines)
  • Valerian Fritillary (Silver Fritillary, scientific name Melitaea diamina)
  • Baumweißling (Aporia crataegi)
  • Brown copper butterfly (sulphur bird, scientific name Lycaena tityrus)
  • Brown forest bird (chimney sweep, scientific name: Aphantopus hyperantus)
  • Brown-spotted Fritillary (Swamp Meadow Fritillary, scientific name Boloria selene)
  • Celastrina argiolus
  • Sedum Blue (Scolitantides orion)
  • Green-veined white (rapeseed white, hedge white, scientific name Pieris napi)
  • Landkärtchen (Araschnia levana)
  • Leguminous white (mustard white, ink spot white, scientific name Leptidea sinapis)
  • Lilagold-Feuerfalter (Lycaena hippothoe)
  • Randring-Perlmutterfalter (Boloria eunomia)
  • Narrow-winged White (Leptidea reali, Leptidea sinapis)
  • Wegerich-Scheckenfalter (Melitaea cinxia)

Between two and four weeks

  • Brombeer-Perlmutterfalter (Brenthis daphne)
  • Golden Eight (Colias hyale)
  • Greater Kingfisher (Limenitis populi)
  • Greater Fritillary (Argynnis aglaja)
  • Green Hairstreak (Blackberry Hairstreak, scientific name Callophrys rubi)
  • Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)
  • Sky Blue Blue (Polyommatus bellargus)
  • Horseshoe Clover (Southern Grasshopper, scientific name Colias sareptensis)
  • Lesser copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas)
  • Kleiner Kohlweißling (Pieris rapae)
  • Small Meadow Bird (Coenonympha pamphilus)
  • Crown Vetch Blue (Plebejus argyrognomon)
  • Green Fritillary (Violet Fritillary, scientific name Boloria dia)
  • Wall fox (Lasiommata megera)
  • Rotklee-Bläuling (Cyaniris semiargus)
  • Checkerboard (Melanargia galathea)
  • Schwalbenschwanz (Papilio machaon)
  • Schwarzer Apollo (Parnassius mnemosyne)
  • Cranesbill Blue (Black-brown Blue, scientific name Eumedonia eumedon)
  • Segelfalter (Iphiclides podalirius)
  • Wandergelbling (Colias yellow)

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