Written by Reddit user u/Samurott1
Butterfree’s stat total is underwhelming at best for a fully evolved Pokémon and has a terrible offensive and defensive typing (not to mention its no-STAB syndrome), but don’t underestimate that little green caterpillar you caught in Viridian Forest. Butterfree can carry your team early in the game, and its ability complements its movepool perfectly. It also remains instrumental beyond the early stages of the game; Butterfree provides valuable support that can turn the tide of battle in a pinch. However, it is very frail and not too fast, so it can be difficult to keep alive. It also sports a crippling weakness to Rock-type moves, and its low Special Attack stat and lack of STAB for its Psychic-type moves mean that it can’t switch in on very many threats or do much damage. Butterfree is still very useful for its ability to provide safe switch-in opportunities for glass cannons like Dodrio and Primeape, so this little butterfly can end up allowing you to run circles around your opponent.
Caterpie: Route 2 (rare), Route 24 (uncommon), Route 25 (uncommon), Viridian Forest (common).
Metapod: Route 24 (rare), Route 25 (rare), Viridian Forest (rare).
Butterfree: Evolve Metapod
Caterpie’s Match-ups in Important Battles
Metapod versus Rival in Route 22: If you picked Bulbasaur, keep Metapod (or Caterpie, if you haven’t evolved it yet) away from your Rival’s Charmander. However, Metapod (not Caterpie in Pidgey’s case) can tank some hits from Squirtle, Bulbasaur, and even Pidgey. Metapod has a terrible Attack stat, so it won’t be defeating Pidgey on its own. It can land at least one String Shot, which could be useful. It’s recommended you use something else for Pidgey though. Metapod can’t do much to Squirtle or Bulbasaur, but it can take down Squirtle with Tackle and Potion spam. Overall, it’s recommended that you just use Metapod for switch training only, if at all. Rattata, Pidgey, and/or your starter are generally better options. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 7; Tackle, String Shot, Harden.
Butterfree versus Brock in Pewter City Gym: The only reason to use Butterfree in this gym is if you chose Charmander as your starter. Otherwise, your starter Pokémon should be the only Pokémon necessary. Geodude is no threat at all due to its lack of Rock Tomb, but don’t press Confusion so quickly! Butterfree must get to +6 Defense with Harden to stand a chance against Onix, so stock up on healing items and have fun pressing Harden against Geodude. After using Harden six times, use Confusion twice, heal Butterfree, then KO Geodude. Onix will go down to three or four Confusions, but Sleep Powder may be useful. If Onix lands Rock Tomb, Butterfree loses precious Speed, which will make this battle significantly more difficult. Use Sleep Powder if you have it. After that, Confusion spam will get the job done with a little luck. Just note that one critical hit Rock Tomb is game over for Butterfree. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 15; Harden, Confusion, Poison Powder, Sleep Powder.
Butterfree versus Rival on Nugget Bridge: Don’t lead with Butterfree in this battle; Pidgeotto’s Gust will hurt. Charmander should also be avoided. Butterfree can easily kill Abra, but you should use Poison Powder first since Abra will resist Confusion. Since Abra has just Teleport, it poses no threat to anything. Rattata can be handled with Confusion, but lulling it to sleep first is recommended. Your Rival’s Bulbasaur is easily defeated by Confusion and can’t do much in return. Butterfree’s Confusion only slightly out damages Squirtle’s Water Gun, so put Squirtle to sleep first. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 17; Harden, Confusion, Poison Powder, Sleep Powder.
Butterfree versus Misty in Cerulean City Gym: Butterfree can put some work in against Misty, but it’s recommended that you use another Pokémon for her ace. Staryu can be put to sleep and KOed with three or four Confusions, but Starmie is much more difficult to deal with. Butterfree’s Confusion does pitiful damage to Starmie, but Supersonic and Poison Powder can be utilized to stall Starmie to death if there isn’t a better option. Three or four Water Pulses are required to take Butterfree down, so bring some Super Potions. Starmie is faster, but Butterfree can put it to sleep, hit it with Supersonic, then use Confusion until it wakes up. Then, Butterfree can use Poison Powder and whittle its health down. Misty’s Super Potions, Starmie’s Recover, and Water Pulse’s confusion chance can be annoying though, so using a different Pokémon is recommended. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 21; Confusion, Poison Powder, Sleep Powder, Supersonic.
Butterfree versus Rival on the S.S. Anne: Pidgeotto is difficult to deal with, but Butterfree will likely outspeed and can tank one critical hit Gust. If you’re going to attempt to use Butterfree here, hit Pidgeotto with Sleep Powder, Poison Powder, or Supersonic, then switch out. This extends to Raticate, Charmeleon, and Kadabra as well (although the first two should only be attempted when Butterfree is at full health). However, Butterfree cannot switch in on Raticate or Charmeleon. Wartortle and Ivysaur can be defeated with the Sleep Powder and Confusion combination. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 22; Confusion, Poison Powder, Sleep Powder, Supersonic.
Butterfree versus Lt. Surge in Vermilion City Gym: Butterfree can theoretically deal with Voltorb and Pikachu with the Sleep Powder and Confusion combination, but it’s risky, not to mention that fact that Butterfree can likely only handle one or the other if you don’t heal it. If your planning to use Butterfree (which isn’t recommended), your best bet is to put Lt. Surge’s Voltorb to sleep (and/or confuse it) and switch in a Ground-type to deal with the rest of Lt. Surge’s team. However, it’ll likely be quicker, easier, and safer to just lead with a Ground-type and sweep. Butterfree can’t stand up to Lt. Surge’s Raichu, either; Shock Wave will decimate the butterfly Pokémon. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 23; Confusion, Poison Powder, Sleep Powder, Supersonic.
Butterfree versus Rival in Pokémon Tower: Do yourself a favor and teach Butterfree Dream Eater in Viridian City. The Sleep Powder and Dream Eater combination is Butterfree’s only viable moveset. Just go through Diglett’s Cave (be careful, though) and use Cut to make your way to Viridian City via Route 2 and Viridian Forest. The move tutor is located in the western part of the city, and he can only be accessed with Cut. Go battle your rival afterword. Don’t use Butterfree against Pidgeotto at all this time; it is much stronger than it was on the S.S. Anne. Butterfree’s Dream Eater won’t do much damage to Exeggcute, but it’s manageable. It’s best to use a Fire- or Flying-type Pokémon here, though. Thrash from Gyarados is a possible 2HKO, so using Butterfree isn’t advised. It can be managed with Sleep Powder and Dream Eater, but a critical Thrash will very likely end Butterfree. It’s best to use something more defensive like Geodude (fun fact: Gyarados has no Water-type moves yet). Kadabra can be dangerous and resists Dream Eater; only use Butterfree’s Sleep Powder or Poison Powder/Supersonic (even then, only when Butterfree is at high health). Don’t have Butterfree fight Charmeleon. Growlithe is manageable with Dream Eater, but it can 3HKO with Ember. Use a different Pokémon against Growlithe if possible. Ivysaur is a joke and Wartortle is manageable. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 24; Confusion, Poison Powder/Supersonic, Sleep Powder, Dream Eater.
Butterfree versus Giovanni in Celadon Game Corner: Giovanni’s lead, Onix, carries Rock Throw and should be avoided. Rhyhorn doesn’t have any Rock-type STAB, but the Scary Face and Stomp combination could ruin Butterfree’s day if you miss Sleep Powder. However, Sleep Powder and Dream Eater should get the job done easily 97.5% of the time. Keep Butterfree away from Kangaskhan; its STAB Mega Punch will OHKO with a critical hit, which is compounded by the fact that Kangaskhan is faster. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 27; Confusion, Poison Powder/Supersonic, Sleep Powder, Dream Eater.
Butterfree versus Erika in Celadon City Gym: Erika will get swept by Butterfree’s Sleep Powder and Dream Eater combination, and Butterfree should be fast enough to outspeed even Victreebel. Dream Eater is a 2HKO on Erika’s Poison-types, and Tangela has a terrible Special Defense stat. There isn’t much in this gym that can threaten Butterfree, either. Erika’s best attack is Victreebel’s Acid, which is a 3HKO at best. The powder moves can be annoying, but that’s it. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 29; Confusion, Poison Powder/Supersonic, Sleep Powder, Dream Eater.
Butterfree versus Koga in Fuchsia City Gym: Psychic (not Psybeam) should take care of both Koffing, but you can also put the Koffing to sleep and eat their dreams if you prefer a more careful approach. Muk is dangerous, and you’ll need some luck to take it down with the Sleep Powder and Dream Eater combination. It is very possible, though. Weezing can’t explode, so Butterfree can put it to sleep and 2HKO with Dream Eater. Sludge from Weezing or Muk is a 2HKO, but they’ll likely use Toxic or Minimize/Smokescreen. Overall, Butterfree is an excellent choice for this gym. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 37; Poison Powder/Supersonic, Sleep Powder, Dream Eater, Psychic/Psybeam.
Butterfree versus Fighting Dojo in Saffron City: Butterfree is an excellent choice for this “gym”. The Sleep Powder and Dream Eater combination have another appearance, this time as a hard counter to both Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee. As a side note, do not fear the elemental punches as they come off of Hitmonchan’s woeful Special Attack. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 37; Poison Powder/Supersonic, Sleep Powder, Dream Eater, Psychic/Psybeam.
Butterfree versus Rival in Silph Co.: Pidgeot is a huge threat to Butterfree, and should be avoided. Charizard and Growlithe also fall into this boat. Butterfree will do pitiful damage to Alakazam and, to a lesser extent, Exeggcute, so it’s best to use a different Pokémon for these two if possible. Butterfree can always be used to hit these two with status moves, though; just note that Butterfree has a lot of difficulties defeating these two on its own. Venusaur and Blastoise are manageable with the trusty Sleep Powder and Dream Eater combination. Gyarados doesn’t have any physical moves, so it can be defeated with Butterfree’s main way of attacking: a combination of Sleep Powder and Dream Eater. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 38; Poison Powder/Supersonic, Sleep Powder, Dream Eater, Psychic/Psybeam.
Butterfree versus Giovanni in Silph Co.: Nidorino is a joke, and Nidoqueen can be handled via the reliable Sleep Powder and Dream Eater combination. Butterfree can theoretically fight Rhyhorn (Dream Eater will 2HKO), but its Rock Blast makes this match up incredibly risky. Just use a Water- or Grass-type Pokémon against Rhyhorn. Kangaskhan’s STAB Mega Punch will hurt, but it will rarely be a 2HKO. You could attempt to go for the Sleep Powder and Dream Eater combination, but it is risky and only viable if you have no other options. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 39; Poison Powder/Supersonic, Sleep Powder, Dream Eater, Psychic/Psybeam.
Butterfree versus Sabrina in Saffron City Gym: Dream Eater will hit Venomoth very hard (as will Psychic), but Butterfree can only poison, confuse, or sleep Sabrina’s other Pokémon. Theoretically, you could train Butterfree to level 47 to get Silver Wind, which is a 2HKO on Alakazam. However, this is only recommended if you have no other viable options. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 41; Poison Powder/Supersonic, Sleep Powder, Dream Eater, Psychic/Psybeam.
Butterfree versus Blaine in Cinnabar City Gym: Butterfree doesn’t have the Speed, bulk, or typing to take on any of Blaine’s Pokémon. Butterfree should not be involved in this battle in any scenario (unless your only other options are Parasect and Beedrill). Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 46; Poison Powder/Supersonic, Sleep Powder, Dream Eater, Psychic/Psybeam.
Butterfree versus Giovanni in Viridian City Gym: If your planning to have Butterfree take on the Rhyhorn, teach Butterfree Giga Drain. However, a Grass-type like Victreebel or Vileplume would much rather have Giga Drain, so this strategy isn’t recommended. On the other hand, Butterfree cannot fight Rhyhorn without it. You should have better options at this point, though. Dugtrio is easily beat since its Slash won’t do much and Butterfree can likely 2HKO with Dream Eater. Nidoking’s Thrash will hurt more than Slash, but Butterfree may outspeed and can 2HKO with Dream Eater. Nidoqueen falls to the same fate. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 47; Sleep Powder, Dream Eater, Psychic/Psybeam, Silver Wind.
Butterfree versus Rival in Route 22: Keep Butterfree away from Pidgeot. Exeggcute and Alakazam can be fought this time around due to Butterfree’s newest toy: Silver Wind. If you get lucky, you may even get a boost to all of your stats. Butterfree can’t do much to Gyarados, whose Hydro Pump hurts. It’s possible, but it’s very risky. Do not pit Butterfree against Growlithe or Charizard; that’s a given. Blastoise and Venusaur will both fall to the Sleep Powder and Dream Eater combination. Rhyhorn can only be fought if you opted for Giga Drain. Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 48; Sleep Powder, Dream Eater, Psychic/Psybeam, Silver Wind.
Butterfree versus the Elite 4: Recommended Level and Moveset: Level 60; Sleep Powder, Dream Eater, Psychic/Psybeam, Silver Wind (Note: Butterfree can also make good use of Substitute against Bruno by replacing Psychic/Psybeam, but this means that the foe will need to be asleep for Butterfree to do damage with Psychic-type attacks).
Butterfree versus Lorelei: An Ice-type attack from Dewgong, Slowbro, Lapras, or Jynx will hurt Butterfree pretty badly. Keep Butterfree away from these Pokémon. Cloyster is manageable thanks to its lack of an Ice-type attack. The trusty Sleep Powder and Dream Eater combination can get the job done in a pinch.
Butterfree versus Bruno: Bruno’s lead Onix cannot be fought by Butterfree; it has Rock Tomb. However, Bruno’s second Onix (which is level 54) can’t do much of anything to Butterfree. The Sleep Powder and Dream Eater combination will result in a 2HKO. Hitmonlee can be fought even though its Mega Punch is a 3HKO; Butterfree can put it to sleep and heal off any damage with Dream Eater. If Butterfree lacks Substitute, Hitmonchan and Machamp can’t be fought due to Rock Tomb. Butterfree can utilize Sleep Powder and Substitute to protect itself from Rock Tomb in the event its opposition wakes up early. This is only recommended if you don’t have any other viable options.
Butterfree versus Agatha: The only Pokémon that Butterfree can’t handle is Golbat; everything else will fall to the Sleep Powder and Dream Eater combination. Gengar and Haunter can be annoying; make sure to use the Poké Flute if Butterfree falls asleep since the opposition carries Nightmare and Dream Eater.
Butterfree versus Lance: Butterfree may be able to stand up to Gyarados, but the chances are low. Gyarados will likely be faster and can 2HKO with its Hyper Beam (meaning a critical hit is an OHKO). It’s best to use something else against Gyarados. Dragonite’s Hyper Beam is usually an OHKO without a critical hit; don’t try to beat it with Butterfree. Likewise, Lance’s Aerodactyl will outspeed an OHKO with Ancient Power. As such, Butterfree can only stand up to the pair of Dragonair. Its Sleep Powder and Dream Eater combination will get the job done.
Butterfree versus the Champion: Do not pit Butterfree against Pidgeot. Butterfree also cannot handle Arcanine or Charizard. Fighting Rhydon may be possible if you opted for Substitute, but it is a very risky endeavor. It’s not recommended. Venusaur and Blastoise can be handled by Butterfree thanks to the reliable Sleep Powder and Dream Eater combination. Exeggutor falls to Silver Wind. However, Gyarados has Thrash again, so it’s not a good idea to use Butterfree against it. Fighting Alakazam is very risky; it is faster and will 2HKO with Psychic. It can also set up Reflect, turning Butterfree’s Silver Wind into a possible 3HKO as opposed to a guaranteed 2HKO.
Everything in Between
Pre-Boulder Badge: Caterpie and Metapod are simply a drain on your team’s experience points since they are bad in battle. When Metapod evolves into Butterfree, its Confusion will be very useful against the bugs of Viridian Forest, so grinding levels will become dramatically easier. However, you’ll likely only need to evolve Caterpie/Metapod before you obtain the Boulder Badge if you chose Charmander.
Caves and Mountains: Keep Butterfree away from Rock-types at all costs. Butterfree should also be kept out of Mt. Ember due to the frequency of Fire-types. Later in the game, Zubat and Golbat become more dangerous due to their Flying-type STAB. However, this usually isn’t a problem with Zubat in particular; it is a Poison-type that gets decimated by Butterfree’s Psychic-type moves. Golbat hits much harder and is significantly faster; therefore, it should be avoided unless Butterfree has several levels on it. Butterfree is particularly good for handling Poison-types, making it a good choice to handle the Rocket Grunts in Mt. Moon if you’re wary of Rattata.
Vermilion City Area: Butterfree is great for handling the trainers on the S.S. Anne, but be wary of the trainers with Fire-types. Butterfree should also avoid the engineers on the route east of Vermilion City; Magnemite walls Butterfree and has super-effective STAB. Diglett’s Cave can be handled by Butterfree, but be wary of Dugtrio as always. Butterfree can handle Dugtrio if need be, but it is better to avoid that. Wild Drowzee can be annoying for Butterfree as they resist Psychic-type moves and may have Insomnia. Don’t forget how great Butterfree is for catching Pokémon; it can also outspeed wild Abra, allowing you to land a Sleep Powder and catch one with ease.
Mid- to Late-Game: Butterfree is great for the Pokémon Tower thanks to its Psychic-type coverage. It also lacks a weakness to Ghost-type moves, giving it an advantage over Psychic-types. It can theoretically handle the trainers on the route south of Lavender Town, but you’ll need to watch out for bird keepers and Electric-type trainers (who can be identified by their trademark yellow hair). Snorlax is a no-go; Butterfree’s Sleep Powder can burn its Chesto Berry, but Headbutt is an OHKO with a critical hit. With Sleep Powder and Dream Eater, Butterfree can defuse the dangerous exploding Koffing that plague the Cycling Road. It can also dispatch the other Poison- and Fighting-types in the area, making it an excellent choice for the area. However, the Power Plant is a no-go; something else will need to defuse Voltorb and Electrode. The Pokémon Mansion is risky. On the one hand, there are a lot of Poison-types. On the other hand, there are plenty of Fire-types and wild Raticate. Tread lightly.
Checks and Counters
Rock-types: Rock-type moves of any kind will decimate Butterfree. Fortunately, every Rock-type in the region is easily countered by a Water- or Grass-type Pokémon. Butterfree can also handle most opposing Grass-types (since most Grass-types have a secondary Poison-typing) for these types of Pokémon.
Anything that resists Psychic-type moves: Butterfree’s claim to fame is its combination of Compoundeyes, Sleep Powder, and Dream Eater, so anything that resists Dream Eater is going to be a problem. This is mostly limited to Psychic-type Pokémon, which Butterfree can only beat if it’s carrying Silver Wind (which it gets at the frustratingly-late level 47). Unfortunately, these Pokémon don’t have any hard counters in the Kanto region. Pokémon like Snorlax and Flareon are good Psychic-type counters due to their great Special Defense and their ability to whack Psychic-types with a super-effective Shadow Ball (which will come off of their excellent Attack stat). Butterfree can also get them a safe switch-in opportunity with Sleep Powder or make their job easier with Supersonic/Poison Powder.
Status absorbers: Anything that is immune to Sleep Powder will be a massive roadblock to Butterfree since it disables Dream Eater. Primeape and Insomnia Hypno come to mind. It is good to have a buster, like the aforementioned Snorlax, to take care of these Pokémon. Fortunately, a lot of these threats (namely the aforementioned Primape and Poison-types) dislike getting hit with Psychic or, to a lesser extent, Psybeam.
Fire- and Electric-types: Fire- and Electric-type Pokémon pose a huge threat to Butterfree as they are often faster and carry super-effective STAB. A Water-type is good to keep around to deal with Fire-types. A Ground-type is a good idea to keep around, too. Butterfree can also provide support to your resident Water- or Ground-type by decimating most Grass-types and providing safe switch-in opportunities thanks to Sleep Powder.
Strong physical attackers: Butterfree’s Defense stat is downright terrible; as such, you’ll need something that can tank physical attacks with ease. Magneton and Snorlax come to mind. Butterfree also provides great support to these Pokémon thanks to the usual suspects: its Compoundeyes Sleep Powder and other support moves.
Overall Grade: B
Butterfree has laughable stats and a terrible typing, but don’t judge this bug by its cover. Its support movepool fits perfectly with its ability, making it almost unparalleled as a useful team supporter. It can also allow you to catch almost every encounter with relative ease. However, like a lot of early-game Pokémon, it still falls off in usefulness around Celadon City (although not as much as the likes of Beedrill and Raticate). Its typing and lack of bulk will haunt it well into the game, forcing you to switch it out consistently. That said, it will still be a solid team member for the majority of your campaign thanks to its support movepool. There are a lot of Pokémon that are more useful in the Kanto region, but none can outclass what Butterfree is capable of.
Resources to Utilize:
Butterfree’s learnset: https://pokemondb.net/pokedex/butterfree/moves/3
Written by Reddit user u/Samurott1. For questions about this guide or for specific advice for your playthrough, send them a message on Reddit.