Some common butterflies of Newport Bay, and their larval foodplants

Peter J. Bryant, Newport Bay Conservancy

The other article in this issue deals with a problem being faced by many of the insects all over the planet - the use of systemic insecticides that turn the plants that attract the insects into poison traps. Here we turn to some of the things we can all do to ensure at least the local survival of butterfly species.Most adult butterflies can feed on nectar of a wide variety of flowers, including those of cultivated varieties, as food sources. However, a more critical need is for the plants that provide food for the larval (caterpillar) stages, and surprisingly most species will use only one or a few species of plants at this stage. So including these larval foodplants, without neonicotinoids, into your garden or restoration project can help to boost the butterfly populations. Although the caterpillars will feed on the leaves of these plants, the damage is usually minor and only temporary. Here are some of our most common and showy butterflies, along with information about their larval foodplants. Many of the listed plants are available from Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano or Las Pilitas Nursery in Santa Margarita. More information can be found at
Western tiger swallowtail, Papilio rutulus.;%20male%20flowers%20on%20new%20twigs%20San%20Joaquin%20Wildlife%20Sanctuary%204-11-09%20047.jpg
Larval Foodplant: Western Sycamore, Platanus racemosa
monarc2 Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus.,%20Irvine,%20CA%207-25-08%20005.jpg
Larval Foodplant: Narrow-leaved milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis. Larvae can also feed on Tropical milkweed, Asclepias currassavica, but planting of this species is discouraged because it does not die back in the Fall, and so encourages the butterflies to breed when they should be overwintering. This also allows buildup of a protozoan parasite.
Gray Hairstreak, Strymon melinus pudica.
Larval foodplants: An exception to the rule of caterpillars being found on specific foodplants. The larvae can feed on at least twenty different families of plants, including the pea and mallow families, where they often eat the fruits and flowers. They can also be found on maize, cotton and a variety of shrubs and trees.

Larval foodplant: California False Indigo Bush, Amorpha californica. Most records of the California Dogface are from the Santa Ana Mountains, but the larval foodplant is easy to grow in the coastal lowlands, and if it were planted more widely the butterfly may become common again in these areas. Female
California Dogface, Colias Eurydice: The official State insect of California!
Wandering Skipper, Panoquina errans. Listed on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 1996, but not yet listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Upper Newport Bay may support the largest existing colony of this butterfly.
Larval Foodplant: Saltgrass, Distichlis spicata
Funereal Duskywing, Erynnis funeralis.,%20UCI%20Ecological%20Preserve,%20irvine,%20CA%204-4-10%20050.jpg
Larval foodplant: Deerweed, Acmispon glaber
Fiery Skipper, Hylephila phyleus

Larval Foodplant: Bermuda Grass, Cynodon dactylon
Mourning Cloak, Nymphalis antiopa
Lorquin's admiral, Limenitis lorquini
Sylvan Hairstreak, Satyrium sylvinus
Larval foodplant for these three: Arroyo Willow, Salix lasiolepis
Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui
West Coast Lady, Vanessa annabella
Larval foodplants: Cheeseweed, Malva spp.; thistles, Cirsium spp.; Dwarf Nettle, Urtica urens; lupin, Lupinus spp.; fiddleneck, Amsinckia spp. and many other plants. Larval foodplants: Cheeseweed, Malva parvifloraand Nettle, Urtica holosericea