NPS photo Dale Dombrowski


Meadows dance with color in the spring and summer as a wide-array of butterflies and moths flutter throughout El Malpais National Monument. When butterflies and moths combine with the colorful flowers, El Malpais is a mecca for another common visitor, the "shutter bug."

Western Tiger Swallowtail

NPS photo Phillip Brown


Amid the cone flowers, globemallow, blanket flowers, and Indian paintbrush, colorful butterflies and moths scurry hither and yon in search of food.

Butterflies feed primarily on nectar from flowers, but some also get nourishment from other sources such as pollen, tree sap and rotting fruit. Butterflies serve as important pollinators for some species of plants, but do not carry as much pollen as bees. Butterflies can however carry the pollen over longer distances. As adults, butterflies consume only liquids, sipping water and dissolved minerals from stream sides or mud puddles, and nectar from flowers.


NPS photo Dale Dombrowski

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)


NPS photo Phillip Brown

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Great Purple Hairstreak

NPS photo Phillip Brown

Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus


NPS photo Phillp Brown

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)


NPS photo Dale Dombrowski

Mexican Tiger Moth (Notarctia proxima)

Giant Leopard Moth

NPS photo Phillip Brown

Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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