South for the Winter: Our Migrating Butterflies

Common buckeye, Junonia coenia

Many people are familiar with the long migratory journey monarchs take every year to Mexico, but they aren’t the only ones heading south. There are seven other butterfly species that live in our watershed during the warmer months but are gone during the winter. Most of them head for the southern United States, and some may not visit us every summer, depending on weather conditions.

Get to know our migratory butterflies below and, if you spot one outdoors, don’t forget to submit your sighting to CVC’s Butterfly Blitz.

  • Fiery skipper: Small, yellow-orange butterfly that can be found in grassy fields. Uncommon in the watershed and may not migrate into Ontario every year.
  • Orange sulphur: A small yellow, orange and brown butterfly that can be easily mixed up with other butterflies in the sulphur family. A widespread and common migrant to Ontario that can often be found in alfalfa fields.
  • Question mark: A larger butterfly with irregularly shaped wings that feature a small white mark on the underwing that resembles a question mark. Common visitor to open woodlands, streams and gardens.
  • Common buckeye: A medium-sized butterfly with attractive and distinctive eyespots on its forewings. Uncommon in the watershed and may not migrate into Ontario every year but when found, it’s in open areas like fields and gardens.
  • Red admiral: A larger butterfly with distinctive red lines and white dots on its forewings. Some years, when the weather is just right, there is a large influx of these butterflies in the spring, usually found in forest clearings, fields and gardens.
  • American lady: A medium-sized butterfly with orange forewings and two large eyespots on the underwing. Common throughout the watershed in open and semi-open habitats.
  • Painted lady: Very similar to American lady but featuring four small eyespots on the underwing. One of the most common and widespread butterflies in the world, they are found everywhere but Australia and the Antarctic. 
Scroll to Top