Male. Silverado Canyon, Orange County, CA. 7/8/88. © Peter J. Bryant.

California Dogface

Zerene eurydice

Lepidoptera: Pieridae

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Female. Silverado Canyon, Orange County, CA. 7/8/88. © Peter J. Bryant.


Male. Silverado Canyon, Orange County, CA. 7/8/88. © Peter J. Bryant.


Male. Thomas E. Riley Wilderness Park, Coto de Caza, Orange County, CA. 7-5-10. © Ron Hemberger

Male. In the butterfly garden at Thomas E. Riley Wilderness Park, Coto de Caza, Orange County, CA. 6-18-11. © Robert Gorman and Diane Brodeur

Male. Camp Metoche, San Bernardino County, CA. 6/10/12. © Peter J. Bryant.

Male. Camp Metoche, San Bernardino County, CA. 6/10/12. © Peter J. Bryant.

Male. Thomas E. Riley Wilderness Park, Coto de Caza, Orange County, CA. 8-11-12. © Robert Gorman

Male. Thomas E. Riley Wilderness Park, Coto de Caza, Orange County, CA. 8-11-12. © Robert Gorman

Female. Santiago Oaks Regional Park, Orange County, CA. 6/20/13. © Ron Hemberger.

Female. Silverado Canyon, Orange County, CA. 7/8/88. © Peter J. Bryant.
Next two rows: Courtship Behavior. In captivity at Environmental Nature Center, Newport Beach, Orange County, CA. May 2013. © Ron Hemberger.

Courting Behavior.

The incurable romantic flips over his new love.

Final approach

Later, babe!

Characteristics: Male -- dorsal hindwing yellow or yellow-orange occasionally with a marginal black band. Dorsal forewing primarily black with a pattern resembling a poodle's head. Female -- dorsal wings totally yellow except for a dark spot on the dorsal forewing. Forewing length: 22-31 mm.

Similar Species: Southern Dogface (Colias cesonia). The female of cesonia exhibits the "dogface" marking rarely found in the female of eurydice. The "dogface" marking in the eurydice male almost always exhibits an iridescent violet sheen. The "dogface" marking is yellow in cesonia.

Habitats, Behavior: Fast flying and hard to catch unless nectaring at flowers. In the Santa Ana Mountains, adults are usually seen nectaring at roadside thistles (Cirsium sp.).  The adults are said to be especially fond of purple flowers (Emmel and Emmel 1973).

Distribution: Most of our records are from the Santa Ana Mountains, where eurydice is generally distributed at both high and low elevations. Apparently it is also found in the foothills of Fullerton and possibly in the hills near Brea. It has occasionally been captured in the coastal foothills. Student insect collections at Newport Harbor High School in October, 1972, contained several specimens of the fall brood, all captured in the vicinity of Irvine and Newport Beach. It was evidently more common in the lowlands in early years, although it is unlikely that the Amorpha foodplant ever grew at such low elevations .

Flight Period: Two broods. Our records range from February to December. The first brood flies primarily from April to July (Peak flight period is June at higher elevations in the Santa Ana Mountains) and from August into October. It is rather difficult to determine if our July records represent the first or second brood, although at lower elevations they may be the latter. Ron Vanderhoff recorded eurydice in Silverado Canyon (elev. 1700 ft.) from March 19-30, 1975, early records for the species.

Larval Foodplant:  False indigo, Amorpha californica. The only large stand of Amorpha I know of in the Santa Ana Mountains occurs adjacent to the junction of National Forest Roads 5S16 and 3S04. The California Dogface is very common here during June. It also grows in Pine Canyon at an elevation of 2500 feet (Silverado) (K. Marsh, personal communication). Theodore Hower mentioned seeing eurydice utilize alfalfa as a larval foodplant although this record has not been duplicated .

Other Remarks: Although it was relatively recently (1972) that the California Dogface by law became the official California State Butterfly, it has long been known unofficially as our state insect by California entomologists. In the 1920's, members of the Lorquin Entomological Society of Los Angeles initiated a search to find an official state butterfly. They narrowed the possibilities to three butterflies: Lorquin's Admiral, the California Sister and the California Dogface. Vicious debates ensued until it was agreed that the California Dogface should be our state butterfly. One of the major factors responsible for this decision was the fact that the California Dogface was the only one of the three candidates limited solely to California in distribution.

As with most butterfly species, the California Dogface varies somewhat in pattern with each individual. A number of "aberrants" have been named and some of these forms are listed in Orsak's book with descriptions.

Text from Orsak, L. J. (1977). The Butterflies of Orange County, California. Center for Pathobiology Miscellaneous Publication #3. University of California Press, New York. 349pp.  Updated by Peter Bryant.

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