How Long do Butterflies Live

The lifespan of a butterfly varies greatly depending on the species, its size, habitat, and the time of the year it matures into an adult. Although the size of a butterfly is not the only factor that determines how long it will survive, it plays an important role because the larger species tend to live longer than the smaller ones. The average life expectancy of a butterfly is typically about three to four weeks, with the smallest species having a lifespan of only about a week. Some species, including the Mourning Cloak, Anglewings, and Tortoiseshells, hatching during the early summer months may live for a year or so.

What is the Average Lifespan of some common Butterfly Species

Overwintering and migratory species, such as the Mourning Cloak and Monarch, are usually long-lived as compared to some of the native species.

Butterfly SpeciesAverage Lifespan (months)
Non-migratory Monarch1-2
Migratory Monarch6-8
Painted Lady12
Black Swallowtail0.4-0.5
Red Admiral0.2-0.7
Peacock Butterfly11
Adonis Blue1
Anise Swallowtail0.2-0.5
Black-veined White0.4-0.7
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail0.4-0.5
Giant Swallowtail0.4-0.5
Gulf Fritillary1-3

Interesting Facts

  • Entomologists can figure out the age of an adult butterfly by marking it and then sighting or recapturing it later.
  • The shortest-living butterfly species are the Small Blues and Coppers, which have a lifespan of only a few days.