An Online Identification Tool for Butterflies of Alexandria, VA

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Here are some helpful definitions when using Butterspy:


Primary color - If you had to pick one, what color would you say this butterfly is? Sometimes this question is hard, like with the Zebra Swallowtail which is black and white striped (this question is also difficult when applied to an actual zebra.)

Secondary color - Secondary color - The second most present color on the butterfly.

Upperside - The dorsal or "top" side of the butterfly. Think "looking down."

Underside - The ventral or "bottom" side of the butterfly. Think "looking from the side" as butterflies tend to hold their wings vertically.

"Hooked and short" - These types of antennae are found on Skippers, and are squatter than the average antennae. The tip has a small hook, which is angled more sharply than a curved tip antennae. "Short" is relative and varies butterfly to butterfly. Sometimes antennae look "hooked" but not "short", or vice versa. This would be the antennae option you select as it includes that either/or! This is an example of a Peck's Skipper with "hooked and short" antennae:

"Eastern Tiger Swallowtail 04" by TexasEagle is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

"Curved tip"The very tip of the antenna gently curves away, creating a small curl at the tip. This is an example of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail with "curved tip" antennae:

"butterfly" by WindRanch is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

"Standard" - If you were to ask a 10 year old to draw an antenna, it would be a standard antenna. Your very average, run-of-the-mill (though still beautiful), antenna. This is an example of a Question Mark Butterfly with "standard" antennae.

"butterfly" by WindRanch is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

ButterSpy is based on the idea that "the more you give, the more you get." Adding more details will return fewer possible matches.

If you find you are having trouble with an identification, try swapping the primary and secondary colors, or exchanging orange for yellow, blue for black, and vice versa. Butterfly colours can vary!