Yellow Butterfly Meaning: What Do Yellow Butterflies Symbolize?

Yellow butterfly on a forest flower on a summer day

What does it mean when you see a yellow butterfly, and what do yellow butterflies symbolize? Let’s find out.

We see them all the time, small wisps of color flitting around from flower to flower without making a sound. Butterflies are one of Mother Nature’s gifts to the planet that bring beauty and a sense of peace wherever their destination may be. While these tiny beauties enhance the landscape, each has its own story to tell, such as the yellow butterfly.

Butterfly Overview

Butterflies, along with moths, are part of the order of insects referred to as Lepidoptera. The two groups are the only insects known to have scales on their wings. According to the Smithsonian Institution, there are an estimated 17,500 species designated within six family classifications inhabiting the planet, with 750 of those species residing in the United States.

Types of Yellow Butterflies

Yellow butterfly sitting on a branch of lavender

Butterflies have two types of wing colors, which are structural and pigment. The yellow butterfly has natural pigmentation generated by pigments in the insect’s skin. Sulphurs are all-yellow butterflies that inhabit backyards, forested areas, and meadows and fields.

Some of the other types of yellow butterflies include:

  • Emperor Swallowtail (black and pale yellow)
  • Three Tailed Tiger Swallowtail (black and yellow)
  • Apricot Sulphur (orange and yellow)
  • Sleepy Orange (orange and pale yellow)
  • Cloudless Sulphur (pale yellow)
  • Owl Butterfly (yellow and black)
  • Grecian Shoemaker (orange and black)
  • Peacock Pansy (black and yellow)
  • Citrus Swallowtail (black and pale yellow)
  • Common Birdwing (black and yellow)

Cultural Meaning and Symbolism

Yellow butterfly on a warm sunny day

The meaning and symbolism of yellow butterflies varies among countries, cultures, and societies. For many cultures, yellow butterflies symbolize happiness, blessings, and good fortune. If seen, it means positive events are on your horizon.

Spiritually, yellow butterflies are a symbol that warm and sunny weather is on the way. The bright color of the yellow butterfly also signifies hope, which in turn can lead to more joy that inspires creativity in a person’s life.

On the reserve side, yellow butterflies are also seen negatively in some countries as omens and messengers of bad things to come in the future.

There are cultural traditions that view yellow butterflies as a signal of rebirth and transformation, meaning that a soul will be reborn into a new life. In early Christian times, yellow butterflies depicted the soul and served as a symbol of resurrection.

The yellow color is also representative of wealth, guidance, and viewed as precious. The black and yellow butterfly has an entirely different meaning. There is the belief that when a yellow and black butterfly is seen, it means misfortune is on its way. It is also believed that the yellow and black butterfly represents death. Seeing it is a visual omen or forewarning.

Native Americans viewed yellow butterflies in a positive way. They are seen as symbols of happiness, joyfulness, and hope. Seeing them is a visual signal that the person will be visited by their spiritual master and be presented with life lessons from the master. It was also believed the butterfly transported personal wishes to the Great Spirit. Butterflies also symbolize the coming of a good harvest.

For tribes living in Brazil’s rainforest, a yellow butterfly is a spiritual warning. In England and Scotland, yellow butterflies mean good luck. This is especially true for those who are sick, as the butterfly is the bearer of happiness throughout eternity.

Bright yellow butterfly eating nectar from red flowers

In Japan, yellow butterflies are seen in a positive spiritual way, as they are a symbol of rebirth or reincarnation. They are not viewed as a portent of death. For the Chinese who follow Zen Buddhism, the yellow butterfly symbolizes enlightenment. In Chinese culture, love is represented by the yellow butterfly as it represents the passion and feelings of the couple.

Indian culture views yellow butterflies as carriers that transport the souls of those who have passed on to a blissful place where the process of transmigration is completed. Transmigration is the process of a soul passing from one body to another. This transformation is similar to the metamorphosis of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly.

For the Zuni Indians, if the first butterfly of the season is yellow, it means sunny weather is to be expected soon.

The opposite meaning holds true for Roman culture, where a yellow butterfly symbolizes the finality of death. It is not uncommon at funerals for family members to wear an accessory fashioned after the butterfly.

In Greek folklore, butterflies were a symbol of the soul. Aristotle gave the name of psyche to butterflies, which is the Greek word for soul.

In Poland, there is the belief that when a butterfly is seen lying on the ground prior to its passing away, it symbolizes that the person is destined to enter heaven when they die.

The Tiger butterfly was especially important in ancient Egypt. It was depicted in many pieces of artwork and portrayed as exceptionally large, which supported its importance as a symbol denoting immortality and the human soul.

The Meaning of Yellow Butterflies in Dreams

Woman dreaming of flying yellow butterflies and feathers

As already mentioned, different meanings and symbols of the yellow butterfly are determined by the culture. While the butterflies symbolize renewal and a new start in life, there is also symbolism in death. This is also true when yellow butterflies are seen in dreams.

On the positive side, dreaming of a yellow butterfly can have a calm and soothing feeling as it means someone you care about who has passed is visiting you in the dream.

If you had a difficult break up, argument, or caused the person in the dream to be unhappy, the yellow butterfly is an indicator you have been forgiven and can move forward with your life knowing you have reconciled with the loved one.

Being surrounded by many yellow butterflies in a dream signifies good luck, good fortune, and prosperity are in your future.

On the dark side, dreaming of yellow butterflies can symbolize less happy meanings. For example, if your dreams show dead yellow butterflies, it means you are experiencing loss and sadness and will continue to do so until you make positive changes and move on with your life.

Dreaming of a dead yellow butterfly is an indication that someone you cared about has died and you are mourning their passing.

Chasing a yellow butterfly in your dream symbolizes you have lost someone you cared about, or they have died. Alternatively, for yourself, it can mean you are pursuing happiness, but it may not be easily attained.

The meaning of mostly black butterflies in your dreams symbolizes changes that must be made to avoid depression and sadness infiltrating your life.

Myths and Symbolic and Spiritual Meanings of Yellow Butterflies

Yellow butterfly on mustard flowers

Butterflies have influenced the beliefs, meanings, and symbolism of cultures around the world. They have been part of history and folklore for centuries, with the different species playing significant roles.

There are interesting myths surrounding yellow butterflies throughout the history of many cultures. In Irish folklore, butterflies are known as the “souls of the dead,” which means the insects have the ability to cross over to the Otherworld. This belief can be compared to the natural transformation of caterpillars to butterflies.

In Scottish and Irish lore, seeing a yellow butterfly near someone who has died meant eternal happiness for the deceased.

Spiritually, a butterfly symbolizes the life cycle from birth to death. Yellow-colored butterflies serve as symbols of happiness, joy, and warmth. Butterflies also symbolize beauty due to their colorful patterns and delicate structure, which make them seem ethereal.

For ancient mariners, the sight of a yellow butterfly had two meanings. One was a warning that extra caution should be taken on the voyage. The other was death would occur on the voyage.

Other Myths, Meanings, and Beliefs

Closeup of butterfly with yellow and black wings

Whether myth, folklore, or personal belief, there are many explanations of what it means to see or interact with a yellow butterfly. The following is a sampling of yellow butterfly meanings.

  • In many cultures, yellow butterflies are representatives of new life and rebirth.
  • Yellow butterflies symbolize resurrection and may have been a symbol representing the soul in early Christianity.
  • In one instance, seeing a yellow butterfly means good things and an abundance of happiness is coming your way.
  • Some people believe frost will appear within a few days of a yellow butterfly flying in and around someone’s face.
  • If seen soon after the passing of a loved one, the yellow butterfly is a sign that the loved one is sending hope of a reunion in the afterlife. Hope is depicted each time the butterfly flutters its wings.
  • The butterfly is a symbol of support and may appear to an individual experiencing difficult times.
  • Yellow butterflies seen at the start of a new year, or the start of a new season can expect to hear about a baby being born.
  • A yellow butterfly sighting may also be a warning of potential illness. If spotted in the spring, a yellow butterfly means fever and sickness for that person. In England, it means sickness for everyone in that person’s family.

Yellow Butterfly Meaning

Whether cultural, historical, personal, myth, or superstition, the symbolism and meanings associated with the yellow butterfly have had – and continues to have – an influence on people’s everyday lives around the world. Be sure to look out for these colorful creatures the next time you go outside and think about what stories they might be trying to tell.

Learn More: Discover what all the other colorful butterflies mean – 11 Butterfly Colors Meanings and Symbolism.