Black Butterfly Sightings: Spiritual Meaning and Symbolism

Mourning cloak butterfly on tree bark
© Marek R. Swadzba/

Written by Kirstin Harrington

Updated: October 23, 2023

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A black butterfly is regarded as a symbol of renewal and change. It is seen as a representation of courage, tenacity, and hope in the face of adversity. The black butterfly is symbolic of a person who has died away in various parts of South America, and its appearance is taken as a sign that they are watching  

Due to its association with the unknown and the blank slate, it symbolizes, the color black can also signify possibility. It’s crucial to remember that this monster also has other hidden connotations, like regeneration, progress, and beauty even in the darkest periods of life. 

To many cultures, this animal can indicate death. Below we’ll talk about everything there is to know about black butterflies, their symbolism, and what they could mean for you as an individual. 

Spiritual Meaning of Butterflies

Photograph od a female Eastern tiger swallowtail, black form, feeding from a pink wildflower. The butterfly is very dark. Against green background.

Black butterfly meanings vary across cultures and aren’t always a harbinger of death.

©David Byron Keener/

Death is one of the most common black butterfly meanings. It goes by the name “death” butterfly as well. The black butterfly, nevertheless, is not always a terrible omen. Really, it’s a pretty uplifting image. It represents the start of something fresh. Black and yellow butterflies carry the meaning of both hues. 

The legacy of the black butterfly as a symbol is immensely extensive and includes associations with many different feelings and narratives. It is frequently interpreted as representing death, insanity, terror, and gloom. 

Yet, black butterflies are also a symbol of rebirth and optimism in several cultures, with their black wings signifying transformation and the passage between life phases. These stunning insects have even been thought to bring luck or be signs of good things to come in some ideologies. 

No matter what personal significance you give black butterflies, there is no disputing that they exude tremendous strength and intensity.

What Does Black Symbolise?

black swallowtail is visible taking flight in the left part of the frame against a black background. Below the Butterfly Orange Cosmos (flowers) are visible.

A black butterfly is often considered a symbol of death, but it can also be a symbol of change.


Colors have different meanings to different cultures. Due to its dark and enigmatic nature, which is similar to that of the color black itself, the black butterfly’s meaning is frequently connected to death. It also represents transition and change, though. 

It stands for the start of anything brand-new and exciting. This is why it is such a fitting emblem for anniversaries and other events where people celebrate fresh starts. The color black has a long history of representing strength, dominance, and elegance. 

Black has become the de facto color for formal occasions and is used by the majority of major fashion designers for a traditional aesthetic. 

This striking hue appears frequently in flags and emblems around the globe to represent resistance to injustice and acceptance of cultural variety. The black butterfly, which symbolizes transformation or rebirth, is another cultural representation of the color black. 

Early paganism also valued black, and naughty fairies would appear when someone wore black on particular festival nights of the year. It is obvious that black has its own type of mystique that has endured through the ages and still fascinates us today due to the variety of ways it may convey boldness, intrigue, and metamorphosis.

Cultural Interpretations of Black Butterflies’ Meanings

Photograph od a female Eastern tiger swallowtail, black form, feeding from a pink wildflower. The butterfly is very dark. Against green background.

The black butterfly’s symbolism can mean a soul messenger in Japan but as a sign of bad luck in other Asian groups.

©David Byron Keener/

The black butterfly has long been recognized as a symbol of several things in many civilizations. For instance, Japanese culture considers black butterflies as messengers for departed souls. Black butterflies are viewed as a sign of bad luck in certain other Asian civilizations. 

Some consider these mysterious creatures a symbol of the natural world’s beauty or a good omen. Black butterfly meanings are frequently connected to birth and death, denoting significant life changes and a spirit’s passage between places beyond the physical plane. 

No matter how they are interpreted across cultures, black butterflies have enough meaning to attract and intrigue any spectator who stops to consider the enormous power this small creature may wield.

Types of Black Butterflies

Mourning cloak butterfly on tree bark

Mourning Cloak butterflies get their name from their wings’ cloak-like design.

©Marek R. Swadzba/

There are various butterflies who dawn this deep, beautiful color of elegance. Let’s take a look at the species of black butterflies that may represent something to you. 

Ruby-Spotted Swallowtail

A black butterfly called the ruby-spotted swallowtail is common in open areas over much of North America and some of Canada. The species prefers sunny fields and the margins of woodlands, where it forages for nectar from various wildflowers. 

The ruby-spotted swallowtail has a two-inch wingspan at rest, and both sexes are black with red or orange patches on their bodies. These bright markings deter predators who may be enticed to nibble on this species because the iridoid glycosides present in large quantities in its wings give it a terrible bitter taste. 

Even though they are black, the iridescent patches have a metallic sheen in flight over sun-lit grasslands, enhancing their beauty.

Funereal Duskywing

One butterfly that differentiates itself from other butterflies is the funereal dusky wing butterfly. It is prevalent in southern Mexico and the United States. Adults have wingspans reaching up to an inch and a half, and their uppersides are primarily black with some gray scales around the border. 

When juxtaposed with the black upper surface, the white patches on the bottom of its forewings create an intriguing contrast. This particular species is a member of the butterfly family known as spread-wing skippers because it rests or feeds on Asteraceae flowers. 

These flowers are nectar sources, and the insects will land with their wings spread out or horizontally. These black butterflies are fairly prevalent in the area and are frequently found in settings including meadows, clearings, and back gardens, among other butterfly species.

Mourning Cloak

The magnificent mourning cloak butterfly has a large, white-bordered wingspan that frequently resembles a cloak. The majority of North America and portions of Central America are where it can be found. This species has an edge over other species in that it can overwinter as an adult, making it one of the first butterflies to emerge in the spring. 

Additionally, some of them have reported lifespans that are longer than 11 months! This black butterfly is an intriguing species because of its peculiar eating habits, which include spices like carrion and other decomposing proteins that most species shun.

Why Are You Seeing Black Butterflies?

A black swallowtail butterfly is visible in the center frame feeding on a lavender-colored thistle flower. A black-and-yellow striped bumblebee is feeding on thistle flower, directly below the butterfly. The background is out of focus greenery.

Black butterfly meanings can include a message about your worth.

©Walt Bilous/

Whether you dream of these insects or see them all around your garden, they could hold meaning for you. Let’s take a look at what experts say it means when you spot these beautiful bugs in your life!

Don’t Get Lost in the Crowd

You are reminded that individuals following the majority typically become disoriented. What dreams would you wish to make a reality? It’s time to pursue a career that better fits your ideals and aptitudes. You are not required to take the same route as everyone else. Be guided by your instincts rather than blindly following those of others.

Know Your Worth

The black butterfly conveys the message that you should maintain hope despite the never-ending sorrow and suffering you are now experiencing. You’re being challenged to let go of the erroneous perceptions of who you think you are and adopt ones that reflect your talent, imagination, and gifts-filled person. 

You are capable of much more than you give yourself credit for. Develop a growth mentality and observe how soon events begin to go in your favor.

A Deceased Loved One is Watching Over You

Black butterflies are often associated with the ghosts of departed loved ones in Irish folklore. This lovely butterfly may also be a sign from a departed loved one telling you to enjoy life to the fullest and to always remember that they are at your side. 

This should always be interpreted positively; it indicates that the subject is transitioning to the spirit realm. This dark butterfly may also represent your never-ending sorrow. The person you love values you and knows how upsetting this situation could be for you. This advice is applicable to both people and animals.

You Need to Look at the Bigger Picture

In most circumstances, a butterfly has a life span of only 30 days, which is extraordinarily brief. Seeing this butterfly might serve as a spiritual message to appreciate life while it lasts and not neglect what we have. 

No matter how difficult your current situation may be, you are being urged to take a step back, look around, and remind yourself of the beautiful wonders that are all around you every single day.

Are Black Butterflies Mysterious?

Black butterflies also represent mystery, and who doesn’t love a great mystery? Black can speak to things that are unknown or uncovered. A bit of mystery can be a good thing, as showing one’s hand (so to speak) can lead to vulnerability. In dating, it’s often advised not to reveal too much about oneself, as it can scare a potential match away. The benefit of retaining some mystery in one’s life can inspire curiosity in others to want to know more about you. As they delve deeper, they attain clues to who you truly are. Mystery also feeds the imagination.

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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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