Finding Butterflies

Butterflies are a common sight in many places around the Yukon each summer. They occur in every habitat: grasslands and open pine forests in the south, wetlands and boreal forests, high alpine areas and northern tundra regions. Examples of almost all known species can be found along or within a few kilometres of highway corridors. Currently, about 90 species of butterflies, representing five families, are known to occur in Yukon , but scientists expect to discover more.


Finding butterflies in Yukon is easy. Just look in any natural, open area on a warm, sunny day. Two excellent butterfly viewing spots are Keno Hill and the Blackstone Uplands. Pick up Yukon's Wildlife Viewing Guide and Viewing Alpine Wildlife on Keno Hill to find these and other wildlife viewing hotspots. These and other wildlife viewing publications can be downloaded from Environment Yukon's Brochures page.

Viewing Tips

butterfly flying across the page

The Yukon Butterflies icon image - this is a pdf file (0.8 MB) booklet will help you view and identify some of the more common butterflies, as well as a few distinctive but less common species. Additional species are mentioned but not illustrated. In some cases, you will need a detailed book, such as The Butterflies of Canada, to identify the exact species that you have seen.

Some Yukon butterflies, such as the large swallowtails, are bright to advertise their presence to mates. Others are coloured in dull earth tones that allow them to hide from bird predators. Many are masters at both advertising and camouflage, with bright uppersides and dull undersides.

To identify butterflies, you will need to know the colour pattern on both sides of the wings. This is because many will only rest with their wings spread wide open, and others with them closed tightly over their backs. You can improve your viewing chances by approaching the butterfly from behind or while it is busy feeding or mud-puddling (drinking salt water). Try using binoculars to get a closer look without disturbing them.


Contact Wildlife Viewing

Environment Yukon

Government of Yukon

Box 2703 (V-5A)
Whitehorse, Yukon
Canada Y1A 2C6

Phone: 867-667-8291
Toll free (in Yukon): 1-800-661-0408 local 8291
Fax: 867-393-6263

Email: wildlife.viewing@gov.yk.ca