How long do butterflies live?

Defining how long do butterflies live can be difficult, especially since each type of butterfly is different from one another, and they have different lifespans depending on which type of butterfly they are.

However, according to science, once a butterfly reaches adulthood, they can’t live for more than 1 year, usually living anywhere from 9 to 11 months tops.

  1. Butterflies lifespan
    1. How long do butterflies live in the wild?
    2. How long do butterflies live in captivity?
    3. Life expectancy of butterflies according to the species

Butterflies lifespan

Like we just said, how long a butterfly lives depends on the type of butterfly they are (which we will talk about more in depth later on). However, they don’t get to live a full on year as adults.

That being said, the average lifespan of a butterfly is 4 months, with some species getting to live up to 6 whole months, but that doesn’t usually happen for many.

It is also worth to mention that some butterflies only get to live about a whole week, depending on their size and where they live. However, smaller, common butterflies you see everyday on your garden, probably has a very short lifespan of only a week.

Keep in mind that a butterfly is more likely to have a longer life depending on when they are born. Meaning that if a butterfly egg has just been laid right before the cold weather, it won’t hatch until the warm weather comes around.

Same thing applies for butterflies that don’t migrate during colder months, which results in them hibernating until the warm days come around, expanding their lifespan without knowing it.

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How long do butterflies live in the wild?

Like we just said, butterflies in the wild don’t really live for too long. Some live up to 6 months, some only make it for a week, it all depends on the type and size of the butterfly.

However, if the butterfly is living in a warm weather zone, they usually get to live anywhere from a month up until six, although this time can be significantly shorter if the butterfly migrates during winter time instead of hibernating.

How long do butterflies live?

There’s also the fact butterflies are constantly exposed to natural predators such as birds and bigger insects, which directly affects their life expectancy, making it shorter.

How long do butterflies live in captivity?

Again, defining how long a butterfly can live, especially in captivity, can be difficult. However, butterflies that live in sanctuaries tend to have a very long live, even surpassing the six month mark.

This is due to how controlled the weather is in captivity, and how they are kept apart from any natural predator, which automatically increases their life expectancy.

Life expectancy of butterflies according to the species

Red-banded hairstreak

4 weeks lifespan.

Painted lady

From 4 to 6 weeks tops.

Small copper, American copper or common copper (Lycaena phlaeas)

Have a short lifespan of only a couple of weeks.


Can live up to for 8 weeks.

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