South Carolina Butterflies and butterfly photographs by Douglass Allen


America has about 700 species of butterflies, South Carolina about 165, and the upstate area probably over 110 species.  Photographs of almost 100 species follow.  This field guide will be useful for areas adjoining Upstate South Carolina:  northeastern Georgia, nearby Piedmont and western North Carolina, and Piedmont South Carolina, all areas with a very similar distribution of butterflies.  I do not yet have photos of some of the rarer Hairstreaks and Grass Skippers. Additional field trips in 2015 may add photographs to this guide including coastal species, as I enlarge the scope of this field guide.

So what follows are the butterflies of the Piedmont and butterflies of the SC southern Appalachian mountains. The South Carolina Upstate area is mostly Piedmont with mountains along the North Carolina and Oconee, Pickens, and Greenville County lines. These southern Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the southern Appalachians top out at 3550' on Sassafras Mountain in Pickens County and host some of  the Appalachian mountain butterfly species found no where else in the state.  Foothills near the mountains merge with the Piedmont, with elevations as low as 400' ASL along upstate Piedmont river bottoms.   I live on Windmill Hill, elevation 1265', in northern Spartanburg County and 12 miles from the nearest mountains, what I call Piedmont highlands, a transitional area between mountains and Piedmont.  This and the nearby SC mountains are the areas I know best and where most of my photos have been taken.  The typical butterflies of Upstate SC are butterflies of the Piedmont, but some coastal and even Gulf species regularly visit us, especially in late summer and fall.  A few species more common to the west of SC may also be more common here than in downstate SC.  
                 
                                                   
 To the left is the Tiger Swallowtail, the state butterfly of South Carolina.  The  dark form female is below-
 This description of Upstate  SC butterflies will be divided into family groups.  For pictures and information click on a family group.  Most of our butterflies are the same as those found in North Carolina where at least two excellent online field guides may be found plus the NC State Parks Atlas of Carolina Butterflies with complete information on every species.  I urge you to consult these excellent resources, which follow-  Butterflies of the Carolinas and Virginia,  and  Jeff's North Carolina Butterfly Page.  Whereas North Carolina is one of the most active butterflying areas in the nation and probably has the best online resources of any state, South Carolina has an outstanding database for South Carolina moths which can be found here- South Carolina Moths Searchable Checklist   At some future date, I may add photographs of moths to this web site.   I also maintain a web site for butterflies of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, which can be found here-  Quintana Roo Butterflies  and am developing a site for the butterflies of Cozumel.  And as a teacher who has been a naturalist and conservationist most of my life, I have another web site which explains the controversies about global warming and climate change which are mainly the differences between the predictions (model projections) and the data.   In addition to birding and butterflying field courses, I teach a course on GlobalWarming/Climate Change in the OLLI program at Furman University and am concerned how politicized the subject has become.  If you understand a key climate science metric- climate sensitivity- you will understand how unnecessary and counter-productive the polarization and climate war mentality is.  See   Climate Sensitivity   

PHOTOGRAPHIC BUTTERFLY CHECK LIST
This list uses the nomenclature and references page numbers  in Butterflies through Binoculars, The East  by Jeffrey Glassberg.   All photographs, almost 100 species, are by Doug Allen and are of free flying butterflies from the Upstate Carolina region if not otherwise identified.  If searching for an individual species try using the Search this site box in the upper right of this page which will take you to the correct grouping.  I welcome contributions of photographs, information, or comments.
CLICK FAMILY NAME BELOW TO SEE UPSTATE SC BUTTERFLIES.  RETURN TO THIS PAGE BY CLICKING SOUTH CAROLINA BUTTERFLIES, UPSTATE SOUTH CAROLINA AT TOP OF PAGE AND SELECT A DIFFERENT GROUPING.
 Below are a few of our common butterflies you'll find in the photographic check list above.

The Black Swallowtail, below, is a fairly  common  butterfly throughout most of the U.S. and Mexico-
 
 

 
 
 The Comma, the Question Mark, the Red-spotted Purple, and Juvenile Duskywing  below are often seen on the ground.  They seldom nectar--
 
 
Many butterfly species, including most swallowtails are seen nectaring and resting on vegatation.  Here are two species from the Hairstreak family-
 
Here are three pictures from the family of butterflies called Brush-foots which occur mainly in and near woodland habitats- the common small Carolina Satyr and the medium sized Northern Pearly Eye and Creole Pearly Eye-
 
Many butterfly species are found in open fields and in grass such as many Sulphurs, Eastern-tailed Blue, and grass skippers as shown below-