Exploring Butterfly Biodiversity in Mexico

May 01, 2024

Discover 20 of these butterfly species at the Xcaret Butterfly Pavilion.

Learn about their life cycle, diet, and importance in the ecosystem.

Did you know that Mexico has approximately 1,800 butterfly species, accounting for 9% of the world's known species? Butterflies are essential pollinators in various crops. Additionally, their ecological function is to serve as a food source for predators such as birds, spiders, lizards, and other animals.

They are attracted to bright flowers and need to feed on nectar. When they do this, their bodies collect pollen and transport it to other plants. This helps fruits, vegetables, and flowers produce new seeds. Most plants require pollinators such as bees and butterflies to reproduce.

What types of butterflies are in Mexico?

Next, I will show you some of the most common species of butterflies in Mexico:

1. Silk Wings (Lycaenidae)

Mexican Striped - Micandra tongida

Lavish Blue Striped - Atlides halesus

Green Striped with Spots - Cyanophrys agricolor

"M" Blue Striped - Parrhasius album

2. Skippers (Hesperiidae)

Blue Skipper - Urbanus proteus

Mercury Skipper - Proteides mercurius

Golden-Banded Skipper - Autochton cellus

Huizache Skipper - Cogia outis

3. Whites, Yellows, and Sulphurs

Spotted White - Pontia protodice

Soul - Glutophrissa drusilla

Green-Eyed White - Leptophobia aripa

Black-Tipped White - Itaballia demophile

White - Ascia monuste

Orange-Banded Sulphur - Phoebis philea

Sinaloa Sulphur - Prestonia clarki

Sulphur - Aphrissa statira

Cabbage Sulphur - Enantia mazai

Guayacan - Kricogonia lyside

Orange Sleepy - Abaeis nicippe

Orange Sulphur - Colias eurytheme

Small White - Ganyra josephina

Mexican Yellow - Eurema mexicana

Southern Dogface - Zerene cesonia

Tipped Orange - Pyrisitia proterpia

Tiger White - Dismorphia amphione

Mexican Victory - Catastica nimbice

Madroño Butterfly - Eucheira socialis

Shadow - Pereute charops


4. Swallowtails (Papilionidae)

Three-Tailed Swallowtail - Pterourus pilumnus

Dark Zebra Swallowtail - Protographium philolaus

Luminaria - Pterourus multicaudala

Quexquemetl Swallowtail - Pterorus garamas

Mexican Swallowtail - Baronia brevicornis

Golden-Edged Luminaria - Battus polydamas

Blue Luminaria - Battus philenor

Zebra Swallowtail - Protographium epidaus

Swallowtail with Swallowtail - Troilides torquatus

Yellow-Banded Swallowtail - Pyrrhosticla victorinus

Red-Spotted Butterfly - Parides sesostris

Black Swallowtail - Papilio polyxenes

5. Brush-Foots (Nymphalidae)

Fine-Spotted Glasswing - Greta morgane

Orange Patch - Chlosyne lacinia

White-Spotted Passionflower - Agraulis vanillae

Orange-Banded - Dryadula phaetusa

Split-Banded Owl - Opsiphanes cassina

Common Tiger - Lycorea halia

Crimson-Banded - Heliconius erato

Zebra - Heliconius charithonia

Purple - Eunica monima

Malachite - Siproeta stelenes

Coralito - Pyrrhogyra otolais

Olive Wings - Nessaea aglaura

Pale Owl - Caligo telamonius

Orange Glasswing - Episcada salvinia

Nun - Adelpha fessonia

Striped Mandarin - Nica flavilla

Tiger Leaf - Consul fabius

Painted Lady - Vanessa cardui

Empress - Asterocampa celtis

Labyrinth - Colobura dirce

Red-Bordered - Biblis hyperia

Cloud Forest Monarch - Anetia thirza

Pale-Spotted Leaf - Memphis pithyusa

Cyan Blue - Prepona laertes

Admiral - Limenitis arthemis

Blue Morpho - Morpho helenor

Striped Glasswing - Pteronymia cotto

Buckeye - Junonia coenia

Julia Heliconian - Dryas iulia

Clear-Winged Map - Euptoieta hegesia

Monarch - Danaus plexippus

Banner - Epiphile adrasta

Blurred Eighty-Eight - Cyclogramma pandama

Grey Cracker - Hamadryas februa

Pointed Leaf - Fountainea euryple

Emperor - Doxocopa laure

Jester - Myscelia ethusa

Metallic Blue-Banded - Archaeoprepona demophon

Glasswing - Dircenna klugii

Orange-Bordered White - Mestra dorcas

Leaf - Zaretis ellops

Mandarin - Temenis laothoe

Mexican Passionflower - Dione moneta

Reddish Daggerwing - Marpesia petreus

Fire Tip - Catonephele mexicana

Leaf - Anaea troglodyta

Scarlet Leaf - Siderone galanthis

Naval Eighty-Eight - Diaethria astala

Four-Spotted Sailor - Dynamine postverta



The life cycle of butterflies involves a complete process consisting of four stages. I will show them to you through photographs taken at the Xcaret butterfly garden, where they provide a clear explanation of each one of these.

  • Egg: Butterfly eggs are small, so a keen eye is required to find them.
  • Larvae: Also known as caterpillars, they must feed very well to grow and gather strength. It takes them from 4 to 6 days to become caterpillars.
  • Pupa: 15 days later, the larvae reach the necessary stage to embark on a new phase. They search for the perfect spot, weave a cocoon, and enclose themselves inside for the time needed to transform into adult butterflies.
  • Butterfly: After ten days, butterflies break their cocoon and slowly emerge to take their first flight. To be considered an adult, a butterfly must spend a month in the reproductive cycle. A butterfly's lifespan is approximately three to four months.

Parts of a Butterfly

Now that you know the butterfly species found in Mexico and their life cycle, let's explore each of the parts that make up these beautiful living beings:

  • Forewing and Hindwing: The forewings and hindwings are attached to the mesothorax.
  • Antenna: A pair of sensory appendages.
  • Head: Composed of the eyes, antennae, proboscis, and palps.
  • Thorax: Each segment has a pair of legs. Both pairs of wings also attach to the thorax.
  • Abdomen: It houses the heart and digestive system.
  • Compound Eye: Composed of thousands of small eyes called ommatidia.
  • Proboscis: It coils when not in use and extends like a straw for drinking when the butterfly feeds.
  • Foreleg: The first pair of legs attached to the prothorax.
  • Middle Leg: The pair of legs in the middle, attached to the mesothorax.

Butterfly Pavilion in Xcaret is a place full of life and many colors.


Butterflies are considered one of our planet's most colorful and beautiful insects. For many years, they have taken on many meanings from ancient cultures that believed they were the souls of their fallen warriors, symbolizing transformation toward the afterlife. Today, people see them as symbols of rebirth and starting anew.

Xcaret Butterfly Pavilion

The Xcaret Butterfly Pavilion, located in Playa del Carmen at kilometer 282 of the Chetumal-Puerto Juárez highway in the municipality of Solidaridad, Quintana Roo, features a free-flight area of 3500 m2 and a height of 15 meters. It exhibits and reproduces only 23 regional species, including the owl butterfly, the blue butterfly, and the red butterfly.

Wander through an area of vast jungle, where you will find shade butterflies and those that love the sun in more light-exposed areas. Ancient indigenous peoples highly valued these species, considering them the souls of warriors who had fallen in battle.

Here, you can witness all stages of their development: the tiny eggs on the leaves, the larvae hanging from leaves and eating, and the incredible pupae that will emerge from the cocoon transformed into beautiful and colorful butterflies.


The best times to see them flying in the entire butterfly garden are at 10 a.m. and precisely at 4 p.m. when they release the new butterflies.

Here are some of the butterfly species you will find in this beautiful butterfly garden:

Sun Butterflies 

Queen - Danaus gilippus thersippus

Monarch - Danaus plexippus plexippus

Gulf Fritillary - Agraulis vanillae incarnata

Julia - Dryas iulia moderata

Swordtail - Ascia monuste

Dione - Dione juno huascuma

Orange-Barred Sulphur - Phoebis philia philea

Cattleheart - Parides iphidamas iphidamas

Red Postman - Heliconius erato petiverana

Rogeri - Heraclides rogeri rogeri

Polydamas Swallowtail - Battus polydamas polydamas

Shade Butterflies

Zebra Longwing - Heliconius charitonia charitonia

Malachite - Siproeta stelenes biplagiata

Owl Butterfly - Caligo telamonius memnon

Blue Morpho - Morpho helenor montezuma

White Peacock - Anartia jatrophae

Thoas Swallowtail - Papilio thoas

Giant Swallowtail - Papilio cresphontes

Pipevine Swallowtail - Battus philenor acauda

What does the caterpillar eat?

Something curious about caterpillars is that each species feeds on a different plant. Here's a list of the plant species each of them feeds on:

1. Luminari dorada (Battus polydamas)

Guaco de monte (Aristolochia Maxima)

2. Blanquita (Ascia monuste)

Bejuco de sangre (Omphalea diandra)

3. Malaquita (Siproeta stelenes)

Salta perico (Ruellia tuberosa)

4. Alas de golondrina (Papilo thoas)

Hoja santa (Piper auritum)

5. Ojo de búho (Caligo memnon)

Achira amarilla (Canna glauca)

6. Pavo real blanco (Anartia jatrophae)

Salta perico (Ruellia tuberosa)

7. Manchas rojas (Parides iphidamas)

Guaco de monte (Aristolochia maxima)

8. Cometa gigante (Papilio cresphontes)

Zapote amarillo (Casimiroa tetrameria)

9. Luminari azul (Battus philenor)

Camotillo (Aristolochia pentandra)

10. Julia (Dryas iulias)

Pata de gallo (Passiflora lobata)

11. Cometa manchas rojas (Papilio rogeri)

Zapote amarillo (Casimiroa tetrameria)

12. Cebrita (Heliconius Vcharithonia)

Pata de gallo (Passiflora lobata)

13. Monarca (Dannaus plexippus)

Rompemuelas (Asclepia curassavica)

14. Carterito rojo (Heliconius erato)

Pata de gallo (Passiflora lobata)

15. Morpho azul (Morpho peleides)

Pata de vaca (Bauhinia divaricata)

16. Espejitos (Agraulis vanillae)

Pata de gallo (Passiflora lobata)

17. Mañanita (Phoebis philea)

Mazorquilla (Senna alata)

18. Reina (Danaus gilippus)

Rompemuelas (Asclepia curassavica)

19. Cocinera (Anartia fatima)

Salta perico (Ruellia tuberosa)


Butterflies are beautiful and fragile creatures essential to our ecosystem as pollinators. Their reproductive cycle lasts a month, and their lifespan is three to four months. Caring for them and protecting their habitats is essential to ensure their survival. If you encounter a butterfly in your garden, admire its beauty and let it fly freely, contributing to the natural balance of our world.

Orgullosamente de Ocosingo, Chiapas, amante de nuevas aventuras, me encanta realizar actividades extremas. El deporte y el ejercicio son pasatiempos que más disfruto, la música regional mexicana es de mis favoritas.


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