Silverspot Butterfly

Silverspot Butterfly (Speyeria zerene hippolyta ) as seen in our Oregon Coast exhibit.

This animal is not part of an Aquarium exhibit, but is rather a wild species that lives in on the sandy dunes and coastal meadows and forests of Oregon. It is included here as part of the Aquarium's broad mission to educate about the entirety of the Oregon coastline.

This butterfly is as beautiful as it is rare. Because the butterfly larva relies on the Early Blue Violet (Viola adunca) as a food source, it is naturally confined to a very small range where this flower grows, including sandy dunes, marine terraces and coastal headlands with sun-lit meadows. In the entirety of Oregon, only a handful of habitats for this butterfly have been identified, which has caused the animal to be listed as “Threatened” by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service. The Aquarium is currently working with USFWS and the Oregon Zoo on a long-term project designed to bolster the butterfly’s numbers. The Aquarium is helping to cultivate the Early Blue Violet while the zoo is raising the butterfly larvae. Once mature specimens are available, the will be released in the appropriate habitat so they can continue to breed and increase the species numbers. The Oregon Silverspot Butterfly is identified by its relatively small size with orange and brown wings. There are black veins and dark spots on the upper wing surface. The underside of the wings have silver-colored spots. For additional information on Silverspot Butterfly conservation efforts, click here.


Historically, the butterfly has been found from the state of Washington to Del Norte County in California. However, all of these populations were confined to coastal areas around salt-spray meadows or similar habitat. Currently, the only viable population in Oregon is located in Tillamook County.

Conservation Status

Threatened wherever found.

Photographs: Courtesy of Mike Patterson and the US Fish & Wildlife, Oregon Office.