The Butterflies 2 page contains 62 images of assorted butterflies taken in Southern California.

Images are captioned with detailed information on each species.
See the index below for a list of species displayed on each page.

Click an image to open a larger version.
Use your back button to return to this page.

Butterflies 1
Buckeye, Bernardino Dotted Blue, Cabbage White, California Dogface, California Sister,
Cecropia Moth, Great Southern White, Julia Heliconian, Lorquin’s Admiral, Red Admiral, Skippers.

Butterflies 2
Malachite, Monarch, Mourning Cloak, Painted Lady, Queen, Viceroy,
Zebra Longwing, Monarch and White-lined Sphinx Caterpillars.

Swallowtail Butterflies
Anise Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail,
Palamedes Swallowtail, Polydamas Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail.


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Malachite HS4532

The Malachite butterfly is a neotropical species most commonly seen in Florida, Texas, and further south
into South America. The upper wing surface is dark brown to black with translucent yellowish-green patches.
Males tend to bask on shrubs and in open areas along roads and riverbanks or forest trails, and patrol for
females using a leisurely, floating flight style. Adults have a 3” to 4” wingspan, and the sexes are similar.


Malachite HS4534

The Malachite, named for the green-banded mineral, has a dark brown body, reddish-brown speckled eyes,
and a whitish underbody. Their caterpillars are hosted on the Green Shrimp Plant (Blechum brownei) and the
Yerba Maravilla (Ruellia coccinea), and adults feed primarily on fermenting fruit, occasionally drinking nectar.
Like many other butterflies, Malachites occasionally feed on bird droppings and carrion to acquire nutrients.


Malachite HS4535 M

In South and Central America, the Malachite is found in subtropical evergreen and deciduous forests.
In southern Florida, they frequent mango, citrus and avocado orchards where they find fermenting fruit.
In Jamaica and Cuba, they are found drinking nectar from the white flowers of mountain coffee plants.
Malachites roost together beginning in the late afternoon, congregating for protection from predators.

All of the landscape (horizontal) large version images linked from the thumbnails are 1500 pixels wide.
Portrait (vertical) images are 1200 pixels tall (1290 pixels with title bar). Images designated with an “M”
in the shot number are 5:4 aspect ratio, 1500 x 1290 with a title bar, or 1500 x 1200 without a title bar.


Malachite X4274

Although the wings of this Malachite are somewhat damaged, you can still see the “swallowtail” extension
of the hindwing on the left side (the right one is missing). Although their hindwings have tails, the Malachite
is not a Swallowtail (they are a member of the Nymphalinae, a subfamily of the brush-footed butterflies).


Malachite X4339 M

The underside of the wings is brown with more subdued whitish-green patches.
Malachites are not generally seen in California (these were taken at a butterfly exhibit).
They are one of the most common species in Central America and northern South America,
and have recently spread into south Texas and the southern tip of Florida (possibly from Cuba).


Malachite X4339c M

A detail crop showing head, eye, leg and wing detail of a Malachite butterfly.


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Monarch X4263

A more common member of the brush-footed butterflies is the Monarch. The female above has a damaged
left wing, but it shows the characteristic dorsal wing pattern, with its distinctive black veins. Compare this to the
Queen (shown further below). The Queen butterfly does not have the conspicuous black veins of the Monarch.

The Monarchs are well known for their annual migration to various coastal sites in California, such as Goleta
near Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, Big Sur, and Mission San Juan Capistrano, among many other areas.
The Monarchs cannot withstand winter temperatures, so they migrate to Southern California and Mexico.
Monarchs have been known to migrate up to 3000 miles, much farther than any of the other butterflies.


Mating Monarchs X4422

A pair of Monarchs mating. Wing condition of the female is one of the primary selection traits for mating.
The butterflies court in the air, then move to the ground, where they can remain attached for up to 30 minutes.

Monarchs are milkweed butterflies. They go through four generations in one year... three as typical butterflies.
In the first three generations, they lay their eggs on milkweed, the caterpillars eat the milkweed for two weeks, and
then attach themselves to a stem or leaf using silk, form the chrysalis, and pupate for 10 days. The adults emerge
and feed on flowers for two to six weeks, mate, lay eggs and die. The second and third generations are similar.
It is the fourth annual generation of Monarchs which is spectacularly different. They go through a similar life to
that of the first three generations, but do not die after two to six weeks. They migrate to a warmer climate
and they live for about six to eight months, returning in the spring to start the cycle of life over again.


Mating Monarchs X4422c M

A detail crop of a pair of mating Monarch butterflies. The female seems to be staring at the camera.


Monarch Caterpillar 0583

A close detail shot of a Monarch caterpillar feeding on a leaf.
The caterpillars are banded, with white, black and yellow stripes.
Monarch caterpillars have two pairs of antennae, one on each end.

The Monarch has recently shown a significant decline in population.
In 2004, 550 million completed the winter migration, but in 2013 there
were only 33 million individuals arriving. While illegal deforestation and
bad weather contributed to the decline, the major cause seems to be
the use of herbicides on US farms which kill their milkweed plants.


Monarch Caterpillar HS4196

A Monarch caterpillar feeding on a milkweed leaf.

Milkweed is the only plant on which the Monarch will lay its eggs,
and it is the primary food source for the caterpillars. The Milkweed
plant has decreased 21% in the US between 1995 and 2013, and
there is now a major effort underway to have people plant milkweed
and avoid early mowing to give the Monarchs a chance to recover.


Monarch Caterpillars HS4324c


Monarch Caterpillars HS4325c

Monarch caterpillars feeding on Milkweed. These little guys are voracious eaters.
All they eat are milkweed leaves, eating enough to increase their mass 2000 times.


Monarch Caterpillars HS4326

The combination of the widespread use of the herbicide Roundup and the planting of herbicide-resistant corn
and soybean crops in the Midwest has led to the wholesale killing of Milkweed, the Monarch’s main food plant.
Without a significant effort to plant Milkweed along their migration routes, the Monarch may soon disappear.


Spiny Caterpillar Mirror Lake Trail 3989


Spiny Caterpillar Mirror Lake Trail 3995

This spiny caterpillar was crossing the road above the Ahwahnee meadow near the upper forest trail to
Mirror Lake in Yosemite National Park. It appears to be a Dagger Moth caterpillar, but I am not certain.


White-lined Sphinx Caterpillar X4324

The images above and below show the caterpillar of the White-lined Sphinx Moth (the Hummingbird Moth).
The adult moth is remarkably similar to hummingbirds in both appearance and flight characteristics as it hovers
over flowers while feeding on nectar. Caterpillars are either black with yellow markings or lime green with black
or brown markings in several different patterns depending on the environment. The caterpillars feed on a wide
variety of plants, but they seem to prefer those in the primrose family. The caterpillars pupate underground.


White-lined Sphinx Caterpillar X4348 M

A White-lined Sphinx caterpillar peeks through a screen of flowers at the photographer while it feeds.
The larvae eat a lot of plant material while growing prior to digging their underground pupating chamber.
Caterpillars in warmer environments are darker, and in hotter areas they can be nearly completely black.
After eating much of the plant material in an area, large groups of these caterpillars sometimes migrate
across roads to new pastures, leaving a number of their colleagues squished flat by passing cars.


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Mourning Cloak X4249

The Mourning Cloak is an Anglewing butterfly (those which have irregular wing edges), related to the
Painted Ladies and Admirals. The upper surface of their wings are a deep plum purple, with a bright
yellow border on the trailing edges of the wings and a black border with iridescent blue spots at the
inner edge of the yellow border. The state butterfly of Montana, Mourning Cloaks have a lifespan of
10 to 11 months, one of the longest of any butterfly. The yellow border pales as the butterfly ages.


Mourning Cloak HS4516c M


Mourning Cloak X4279 M

A Mourning Cloak basking on a species card in a garden, and perched in the shadows on a Zinnia.

The species name (Nymphalis antiopa) was given to these butterflies by Linnaeus in 1758. Antiope was
a daughter of Ares (Greek god of war) and sister of Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons in Greek mythology.
She was the only Amazon who was married (to Theseus, slayer of the Minotaur and founder-king of Athens).
There were several other women in Greek mythology named Antiope, including the the daughter of the river
god Asopus who was raped by Zeus in the form of a satyr; the daughter of the Boetian king Thespius who
bore Heracles a son; one of the consorts of Helios (sun god); and the wife of the Trojan priest Laocoon.


Mourning Cloak X4286


Mourning Cloak X4314

The Mourning Cloak has a wingspan from 3 to 3.5 inches. In Great Britain, they are known as the Camberwell Beauty.
Two individuals who probably stowed away on a Scandinavian ship were discovered in Camberwell, London in 1748.
The North American name derives from the Scandinavian or German names, all of which translate to Mourning Cloak.
These names derive from the dorsal surface color of the wings, which resemble the traditional dark cloak of mourning.


Mourning Cloak HS4381


Mourning Cloak detail HS4377c

The ventral wing surface (underside) resembles charred wood, with a yellow-brown trailing edge border.
Mourning Cloaks are perfectly camouflaged when perched with wings closed on the bark of a dark tree.

Note the very hairy body in the closeups. The Mourning Cloak is one of few butterflies which overwinters,
hibernating in tree cavities and under loose bark in areas with very cold temperatures. The advantage to
the butterfly is that it will not have to migrate and can thus mate immediately upon emerging in the spring.

The Mourning Cloak is generally one of the first butterflies which are seen flying early in the spring.


Mourning Cloak detail HS4363

Detail of the head, thorax and wing root of a Mourning Cloak butterfly.
Notice that even the surface of the eye has a fine coating of tiny hairs.


Mourning Cloak detail HS4365


Mourning Cloak detail HS4372

A series of detail shots of a Mourning Cloak showing the body and wing hair which helps to insulate
the butterfly from the winter cold. They use a unique form of hibernation known as cryo-preservation,
in which they are actually frozen inside the shelters which they chose months before. The late winter
sun thaws out the butterfly, which will emerge and drink from tree sap that appears in the early spring
to cover wounds that the trees sustained during the winter months. The butterflies then mate and die.


Mourning Cloak detail HS4372c M

Detail of the extensive body hair insulation of a Mourning Cloak butterfly.

Mourning Cloaks lay their eggs on deciduous trees such as Willow, Elm, Cottonwood,
Poplar, Birch and Mulberry, and the caterpillars eat the leaves of the trees they hatch on.
Herds of up to 50 caterpillars move in unison after hatching, eating leaves of their host tree.
The adults feed on tree sap by landing above the flow and bending down to siphon the sap.
They also feed on fermenting fruit, and rarely feed on flower nectar except in the summer.


Mourning Cloak HS4367

A Mourning Cloak perched on a fence rail. Note the speckled dark brown eye and the hairy body.

The dark wing color of the Mourning Cloak allows it to absorb heat from the sun quite efficiently.
The dark color also gives it excellent camouflage, especially when the wings are closed and the
butterfly is on dark tree bark. Mourning Cloaks have also developed special tactics to drive off
predators: they group together and fly menacingly towards attackers such as birds or other
butterflies to drive them off. They make loud clicking sounds when escaping predators.


Mourning Cloak HS4370

Mourning Cloaks exhibit polygynous mating, where a male mates with several females in a breeding season.
They stake out a territory, then either display to attract females or fly around the territory to search for females.

Mourning Cloaks are often seen in June and July, but then disappear until September. What they are doing
when they are gone has been a mystery for over 100 years. It has been speculated that they enter dormancy
in the heat of August, re-emerging in late September to find a place to spend the winter, or perhaps they are
creating a second brood which emerges in late September. Sometimes, they can be seen flying south in the
late fall in some northerly locations, but they are not generally known to migrate. This is yet another mystery.


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Painted Lady 4347 M

The Painted Lady is a relative of the Admirals and is found all over the world except South America and
the Arctic regions. They are migratory, and some studies conclude that nearly the entire North American
population winters near the border of the US and Mexico. They typically fly in distinct migratory patterns,
but the migratory patterns are highly erratic depending on the area, and they do not migrate every year.
There is evidence to suggest that global climatic events such as El Nino cause large-scale migrations.


Painted Lady 4357


Painted Lady 4360

The Painted Lady is one of several similar butterflies in the genus Vanessa, such as Vanessa cardui
(the Painted Lady, as seen in these images), the Australian Painted Lady, the American Painted Lady
(Vanessa virginiensis, which has less white spotting at the apex of the forewing), and the West Coast Lady
(Vanessa annabella), which does not have the ventral eyespots and has prominent blue centers in the
black spots on the trailing edge of the hindwing. A Painted Lady either does not have blue centers
in these black spots, or has very diffuse bluish-white centers as is seen in the images above.


Painted Lady 5644 M

The image above and the two below show Painted Ladies with no centers in the black hindwing spots.

Painted Ladies have a unique system of nearly continuous mating throughout all seasons, including winter.
This is likely attributable to the migratory habits of this butterfly. The Painted Lady will start breeding during
the process of migration and reproduce throughout the migration. Females suspend their flight temporarily
to deposit their eggs. Females produce a very large number of eggs, and tend to fly towards rain, which
some scientists speculate may activate more of their eggs and induce better larval development. The
success of their reproductive activity declines throughout the winter, but they continue to reproduce,
which is unique behavior amongst butterflies, leading scientists to speculate that their migratory
habits help Painted Ladies find suitable areas for breeding, offering a possible explanation
as to why the Painted Lady butterfly mates continuously, even through the winter months.


Painted Lady HS4193


Painted Lady HS4502

Painted Lady butterflies resting with wings fully extended, allowing examination of the black spots
on the trailing edges of the hindwings. Note the lack of light blue centers in these individuals. Some
Painted Ladies have diffuse blue centers (seen in images further above). The West Coast Lady has
conspicuous blue centers in these black spots, the American Painted Lady has a small center dot
in only the largest black spot at the outside of the row. Also, see the ventral surface of the wing
as shown in the image below. The American Painted Lady has two large ventral eyespots,
the West Coast Lady has none, and the Painted Lady has five as in the image below.


Painted Lady HS4330

A Painted Lady resting on an Egyptian Starcluster with its wings closed. The Painted Lady is related to the
Admirals, and is the most widely distributed butterfly in the world. The ventral surface (underside) of the wings
have five small multicolored eyespots in a delicate pattern of browns and tans. The dorsal (upper) wing surface
is orange and dark brown-to-black patterned with five white spots at the apex of the forewing (see below).
Painted Ladies are strong migrators, but their patterns are erratic and they do not migrate every year.


Painted Lady HS4334

Painted Ladies are smaller than other brush-footed butterflies, with a wingspan of about 2 to 3 inches.
The adults drink nectar from a wide variety of plants, and the caterpillars are hosted on a variety of plants
such as Thistle, Mallow and Hollyhock. Their coloration provides superb camouflage against predators.


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Queen HS4507

The Queen is one of several similar Milkweed butterflies in the Danaus genus that include the Monarch,
Soldier and Queen, as well as several variants of Danaus Tiger and foreign Monarchs totaling 12 species.
The North American Monarch, Queen and Soldier are especially close visually, and can be difficult to identify.
The Monarch is more orange with heavier black-lined veins on the dorsal wings, ventral wings are pale yellowish.
The Soldier has lightly marked black veins on the dorsal wings and the Queen has nearly no black dorsal veins.


Queen HS4448

The dorsal wing structure of the Queen butterfly has very lightly marked veins with nearly no black.
Compare it to the strongly defined black dorsal veins of the Monarch (from further up on this page).

The wingspan of the Queen ranges from 3 to 4 inches, and the males have a dark patch on the hindwing.
The Queens shown on this page are males (the dark scaly scent patch is beside the rear of the abdomen).
The Queen butterfly has a very tough, flexible chitinous exoskeleton, unlike most other butterflies, and unlike
the Monarch, the female Queens are larger than the males. Queens range from Brazil to the southern US,
with the US populations typically found in California, Arizona, southern New Mexico, Texas and Florida.


Queen HS4341c M

Detail of the dorsal wing surface of a male Queen butterfly. The dark scent patches are alongside the rear
of the abdomen. At the tail, you can just make out the extensible hair pencils of this male, which are used to
disperse pheromones during his courtship display for the female. A male chases a female, approaching from
above, and brushes his hair pencils against her antennae to disseminate pheromones bonded to dust particles.
Eventually, the female comes to rest with the male hovering over her, continually dusting her with pheromones.
The male then alights, copulating with the female. Afterwards, they fly while connected in a post-nuptial flight.


Queen X4280

A Queen perched on a flower, about to feed on nectar. Queen larvae feed on various species of milkweeds,
and adults drink nectar from flowers, as well as on fermenting fruit, milkweed, and bird and animal droppings.
Males also frequent Heliotrope, Borage, Asters and other plants where they get the alkaloid Lycopsamine,
which along with other precursors are used to create the pheromones which they use to attract females.
These pheromones are not essential to mating, but the males without hair pencils have less success.


Queen X4332

This male Queen drinking nectar is a darker individual. The color ranges from a bright yellow-brown through
a deep chocolate brown. This individual can be identified as a male from the heart-shaped white spot in the
center of the hindwing, surrounded by a large black border. This corresponds to the dark scaly scent patch
that is on the dorsal side of the wing. The female does not have this heart-shaped spot on the ventral wing.
These heart-shaped spots can be seen in greater definition in a number of images shown further below.


Queen detail X4345

A close detail shot of a male Queen with its proboscis extended. Note the white dots on the black body,
and the parallel tubes of the characteristic Lepidopteran proboscis which are separated by a central groove.

The proboscis is made up of two parts (galea) which literally zip together after the adult
butterfly emerges from its pupal cocoon. The tiny hooks and fringes that zip the proboscis
together are natural velcro. Each of the two galeae of the proboscis contain nerves, muscles,
a trachea tube and a central groove which becomes the food channel when the two parts join.

Moths and butterflies can only feed on liquids containing particles small enough to fit through
the food canal, but Zebra Longwings and other Heliconians can feed on pollen by creating a
ball on the tip of the proboscis and regurgitating digestive juices to break down the pollen.


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Queen HS4281

A male Queen butterfly resting on Lantana. Note the white heart-shaped spot surrounded by a large black
area on the lowest branched vein of the hindwing. This is on the underside of the dark scaly scent patch on
the dorsal side of the hindwing, and allows the male Queen to be identified even when the wings are closed.


Queen HS4282

A male Queen butterfly on Lantana, taken from a slightly lower angle than image 4281 above to take advantage
of the light, allowing for a different rendering of the background colors and to create a highlight over the butterfly.


Queen HS4277c M


Queen HS4280 M

A series of closer detail shots of a male Queen on Lantana, allowing examination of the dark body with
characteristic white spots, the black-veined ventral surface of the wings, and the heart-shaped male spot.
Notice the white spots at the trailing edges of the wings. The Queen has two rows of these white spots.
The Viceroy has a spiderweb-like vein pattern on the ventral wing and a double row of V-shaped spots.
The Soldier has a narrower trailing edge border with double rows of white spots, but a lighter ventral
wing color and pale white blotches on the hindwing. The Monarch ventral surface is more yellow.


Queen HS4285c M

Close detail of the striped eye, the black body with white spots, and the heart-shaped hindwing spot
of a male Queen butterfly resting on Lantana. Note the frosty white edge surrounding the black veins.
This is another way of identifying the Queen butterfly. The Viceroy has very little of this white frosting,
generally only on the inner edge of the vertical vein on the ventral hindwing. The Soldier has none.


Queen HS4298

You may have noticed in these images that the Queen appears to only have four legs. The two front legs of
the Queen are small, mounted near the head, and male forelegs are more atrophied than those of females.
The female uses her tiny forelegs to scratch the leaf surfaces to determine which are suitable for her eggs.
The atrophied forelegs of both sexes of the Queen are the only legs which do not have terminal claws.
Again, note the heart-shaped spot on the central hindwing which identifies this butterfly as a male.


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Zebra Longwing HS4197

A Zebra Longwing at rest on a flower in Southern California.

A member of the Heliconian butterflies, the Zebra Longwing is black or dark brown with white or yellow stripes.
The body and head is black with white spots, and the typical wingspan is 3 to 4 inches. Like the Julia Heliconian,
the Zebra Longwing hosts on various species of Passionflowers, and they augment their diet with pollen, allowing
them to both gain additional amino acids and synthesize toxic glycosides to dissuade predators from eating them.
They roost in groups of 50 to 60 individuals to deter predators and share warmth, and return to the same roosts.


Zebra Longwing HS4322

Like other Heliconians (Longwing butterflies), the Zebra Longwing has extended
forewings that give it a long, narrow appearance. The ventral surface of the wings
(underside) is dark brown to charcoal with several red spots near the body and a
long red streak underneath the wing root. The body is black with white spots, and
white lines are on the central face and the underside of the thorax and abdomen.


Zebra Longwing HS4496 M

A Zebra Longwing and Orange Sulfur rest on a drying Zinnia.


Zebra Longwings HS4500

A second Zebra Longwing approaches the drying Zinnia, flying directly over the Orange Sulfur to land behind its friend.

The Zebra Longwing is the official State Butterfly of Florida.


Zebra Longwing X4265

A Zebra Longwing drinking nectar from an Egyptian Starcluster in Southern California.

Zebra Longwings tend to establish fixed foraging routes, sometimes called “trap-lines”.
They visit the same flowers on the foraging routes, drinking nectar and gathering pollen.
Zebra Longwings are especially attracted to red flowers, but they like Lantana and many
other flowers as well. They fly slowly with a stately grace, and they are not easily startled.
They gather in roosts and return to the same roost each night. They exhibit a social order
in the roost... the oldest get the best spots. They also nudge each other awake each day.


Zebra Longwing X4268

A Zebra Longwing (or Zebra Heliconian) drinking nectar.

Heliconians are very long-lived butterflies. While most butterflies drink nectar, Heliconians
are also able to use their specialized proboscis to make balls of pollen and attach them to
the end of the proboscis. Then then regurgitate a small amount of digestive juice which
dissolves the pollen, allowing them to ingest it. The pollen offers several advantages:
they get amino acids they would not otherwise ingest, promoting better health, and
they are more distasteful to predators. Egg production is enhanced by pollen intake,
and butterflies which feed on pollen are more brightly colored to warn predators away.
While Zebra Longwings do not have the wide color variation of some of the Heliconians,
their highly contrasting display of bold yellow-white stripes on a dark body is quite effective.


Zebra Longwing X4270


Zebra Longwing X4407

Black and dark brown variants of the Zebra Longwing (Zebra Heliconian) at rest on leaves.
Zebra Longwings begin to gather in roosts two to three hours before sunset and remain in
the roost until two hours after sunrise. Roosts generally contain from five to 60 individuals.


Zebra Longwing X4367

A Zebra Longwing at rest on a leaf. Zebra Longwings practice a habit known as pupal mating, in which the
larvae which feed on plants damage the plant, releasing certain volatile alcohols, acetates and aldehydes
which the males can detect. These olfactory cues indicate the location where a pupa can be found. When
a pupa emerges, two or more males may fight, the winner copulating with the newly emerged female. Other
males are prevented from mating with her by nutrients in the spermatophore which reduce her attractiveness.


Julia Heliconian X4241

A male Julia Heliconian resting on a leaf in a garden in Southern California.
Heliconians are the longwing butterflies. Their forewings are much longer than those
of other butterflies. Members of the Heliconians include the Fritillaries, Lacewings, Cruisers,
Longwings, and Dryas iulia (Julia), among others. There are about 45-50 genera of Heliconians.
Their colorations are mostly orange, reddish and black, and while wing shapes differ they are
all elongated towards the tip, thus the common name of this butterfly family is “longwing”.


Julia Heliconian X4258

A female Julia Heliconian resting on a leaf. The female Julia is generally a less vibrant orange than the male.
Adults feed on the nectar of flowers and vine plants as well as on pollen as has been described further above.

Like other Heliconians, Dryas iulia has a specialized proboscis which allows it to feed on pollen by
regurgitating digestive juices onto a ball of pollen which they roll and attach to the end of the proboscis.
This dissolves the pollen, allowing them to ingest it and get amino acids which are not present in nectar.
The addition of pollen into their diet makes it possible for Heliconians to live longer than other butterflies.

More images and information on the Julia Heliconian is on the Butterflies 1 page.


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Click the Display Composite above to visit the Butterflies 1 page.

Buckeye, Bernardino Dotted Blue, Cabbage White, California Dogface, California Sister,
Cecropia Moth, Great Southern White, Julia Heliconian, Lorquin’s Admiral, Red Admiral, Skippers.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Swallowtails page.

Anise Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Giant Swallowtail,
Palamedes Swallowtail, Polydamas Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail.