The Butterflies section contains over 150 images of butterflies, caterpillars and a Cecropia moth, mostly
taken in Southern California, although there are a few shots from Yosemite National Park and New Mexico.
The Butterflies section contains three pages and this Overview page which has sample images from each page.

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.

Insect Study Section Index

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.

Bees, Flies and Dragonflies

Miscellaneous Insects:
Katydids, Cicadas, Ladybugs, Mantis, Spiders and other Insects


The Banner below leads to the Butterflies Gallery where images can be selected.


There are 170 images in the Butterflies Gallery


Buckeye HS4308

A female Buckeye basking on a rock. Note the highly saturated black-bordered orange bars on
the forewings, and the broad diffuse orange band just forward of the trailing edge of the hindwing.
A series of images which compare the male and female Buckeyes are on the Butterflies 1 page.


Mating Bernardino Dotted Blues 0297c

A mating pair of Bernardino Dotted Blues in Temescal Canyon, near the Pacific Ocean.
The female (on the top) has a broader orange submarginal hindwing band than the male.

The Bernardino Dotted Blue is becoming a vulnerable species as the scrub and chapparal
habitat it prefers is becoming lost to development. These butterflies make extended local
migrations of up to 100-125 miles to breeding or wintering grounds or hibernation sites.
Caterpillars are hosted on various wild buckwheats, and adults feed on flower nectar.


Cabbage White 8476

An adult female Cabbage White drinking nectar. Adults drink nectar from several species of flowers.
The Cabbage White is the only introduced Old World butterfly, which spread south from Canada over
the 50 year period after it was introduced from Europe. The Cabbage White has spread to the entire
North American continent. They are incredibly prolific... the offspring of a single female can reach into
the millions in a few generations. The caterpillars, called the Imported Cabbage Worm, are voracious
eaters, boring deep into the interior of cabbage, broccoli, kale and other plants in the mustard family.

The Cabbage White, or Small White, is a widespread butterfly which was introduced into Quebec in the
late 1850s from Europe. Since then, the caterpillars have become a pest as they eat cabbage, broccoli
cauliflower and other plants in the mustard family. They are mostly white with darker markings at the apex
of the forewings, and dark spots on each wing. Males have one spot and females have two on each wing.


California Dogface X4370 M

The California Dogface gets its name from the pattern on the upper wing of the male, which resembles the
silhouette of a dog’s face. Capturing an image of this pattern is difficult, as these butterflies close their wings
immediately upon landing, and when they open their wing they immediately fly about 15 to 20 feet into the air.
They are very fast fliers, and do not linger long when they do land on a flower. They can fly for well over a mile.


Red Admiral HS0289 M

Close detail of a Red Admiral basking on a rock with its wings closed. Note the delicately patterned
brown and black hindwing surface, which provides the butterflies with superb camouflage when they
perch on tree bark to drink the sap. Like the California Sister, they primarily eat fermenting fruit and
tree sap, but they will drink nectar from flowers if these are not available. Caterpillars are hosted on
plants in the Nettle family. Red Admirals are larger and brighter in the summer than in the winter.

The Red Admiral is dark brown to black with white spots at the apex of the forewing, a red-orange medial
band on the forewing, and a red-orange band on the trailing edge of the hindwing on the dorsal wing surface.
On the ventral surface (underside), the forewing looks similar but the hindwing has a delicate pattern (see below).
Red Admirals are people-friendly butterflies, and will often approach or even land on a person (kids love this).


Fiery Skipper on Swamp Verbena X4906 M

A Fiery Skipper about to drink nectar from a Swamp Verbena in Southern California.
The Fiery Skipper is fond of human development, as lawns make perfect breeding grounds.
They breed mostly on Bermuda grass and other turf grasses, and adults feed on garden
flowers such as Lantana, Verbena, Lavender, Garlic, Sage, Daisies, Zinnias, etc.
In some urban areas, the Fiery Skipper is considered to be a lawn pest.

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.
Some of the portrait images are also designated as “M”, and are 1500 pixels tall (plus the title bar).


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 X4255 M

The ventral surface of a female Julia Heliconian (Dryas iulia) showing the golden brown underwing pattern.
The ventral surface of the male Dryas iulia is more orange, as is shown in images on the Butterflies 1 page.
Ventral color of male wings is variable, but in my experience it is always more orange than that of females.

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.


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


The Banner below leads to the Butterflies Gallery where images can be selected.


There are 170 images in the Butterflies Gallery


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.


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 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.


Painted Lady 5644 M

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 diffuse bluish-white centers as shown in images on the Butterflies 2 page.


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 image above).

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.


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.


Queen HS4448

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.

The dorsal wing structure of the Queen butterfly has very lightly marked veins with nearly no black.
The wingspan of the Queen ranges from 3 to 4 inches, and males have a dark patch on the hindwing.

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 HS4282

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.


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.


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Butterflies 2 page.


The Banner below leads to the Butterflies Gallery where images can be selected.


There are 170 images in the Butterflies Gallery


Anise Swallowtail X4356 M

An Anise Swallowtail resting on an Egyptian Starcluster. Note the hair on the body and inner wings.

The Anise Swallowtail is a medium-sized black butterfly with distinctive yellow markings across the wings,
iridescent blue markings on the trailing end of both upper and lower surfaces of the wings, a red and black
central spot between the rump and the tails, and the characteristic pointed tails of the Swallowtail Butterfly.

The Anise Swallowtail has a wingspan of 3 to 4 inches, although some can be smaller than three inches.
The body is black and hairy, with broad yellow stripes on each side. They prefer fennel (anise) and citrus.


Black Swallowtail HS4343 M

A male Black Swallowtail basking on a rock. Note the yellow stripes on the side of the head.
They have an orange spot in the center of the hindwing between the tails, and a rather hairy body.


Giant Swallowtail HS4259

The Giant Swallowtail has a dark brown to black body and wings, with yellow bands displayed in a similar pattern
to that of the King Swallowtail (which feed on black pepper rather than the citrus preferred by Black Swallowtails).
The lower part of the body is yellow, and the underside of the wings is primarily yellow. The tails have yellow eyes.
The female has an iridescent blue hindwing and yellow spots instead of the yellow to yellow-white band of the male.

The Giant Swallowtail is the largest butterfly in North America with a wingspan of 4.5 to 7 inches.


Palamedes Swallowtail HS4493

A Palamedes Swallowtail hangs down from a leaf with its wings closed.
The upper wing of the Palamedes looks similar to the male Black Swallowtail,
but with an additional blue and orange mark above the central hind orange mark
between the tails, and many have two yellow streaks above the light median band,
parallel to the body. Females have diffuse blue spots behind the light median band.


Pipevine Swallowtail X4410

A female Pipevine Swallowtail. The males have an iridescent blue-green hindwing, and females have
a row of diffuse white spots on the trailing edges of their wings (some females have a dull iridescence).

This is a medium to large butterfly (3 to 5 inch wingspan) with a spotted black body and mostly black wings.
They feed on the nectar of flowers as adults, and the caterpillars feed on the Aristolochia Pipevine plants.
Because most species of Pipevine are poisonous to animals, birds avoid the caterpillars. Several other
species of butterfly have taken advantage of this, mimicking the appearance of the Pipevine Swallowtail.


Polydamas Swallowtail HS4215

The Polydamas Swallowtail has a wingspan of 3.5 to 4.5 inches. The upper surface of the wing is black,
with postmedial yellow bands. The body is black with red-orange dots and an orange lateral abdomen line.

The Polydamas Swallowtail is the only tail-less swallowtail butterfly in the United States. They
lay their eggs on the Aristolochia Pipevine plants, like the Pipevine Swallowtail shown above.
The aristolochic acids in Pipevine leaves make them distasteful and avoided by predators.


Polydamas Swallowtail HS4549

A Polydamas Swallowtail displaying its red-orange body spots, lateral orange line
on the abdomen, and the wavy red lines on the underside of the scalloped hindwing.

Polydamas Swallowtails have yellow markings on the scalloped edges of the hindwings,
and are sometimes called the Gold-Rim Swallowtail. Their caterpillars are very similar to
the Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars, but they have a gold band across their foreheads.


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The Banner below leads to the Butterflies Gallery where images can be selected.


There are 170 images in the Butterflies Gallery


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