California Dogface (Zerene eurydice)
The California dogface is a butterfly from the large Pieridae family, with their characteristic bright yellow and orange coloration. The arthropod is endemic only to the US state of California.
- Family: Pieridae
- Genus: Zerene
- Common names: Dog-head Butterfly
- Scientific Name: Zerene eurydice
Description and Identification
The caterpillar is bright green with light to distinct horizontal white to pale green stripes, often with black borders, all over the body.
Quite like the larva, the pupa of the dogface is also bright green to camouflage easily. When they complete their larval stage, they turn into a chrysalis, hanging from fine silk threads. This stage lasts for about two weeks.
Sexual Dimorphism: The males are much brighter and colorful than the females. The female California dogface has just one color – pale cream – on all its four wings, and a small black dot on each.
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the dorsal side of the forewings displays an iridescent bluish-black color with peach to pinkish markings, while the hind wings are orange and sulfur-yellow in color. When the wings are closed, the ventral sides display almost the same patterns as the dorsal sides, though a bit paler.
Average wingspan: 2 to 2½ inches (5.1 – 6.3 cm)
Flight pattern: Very fast flying and difficult to approach or catch unless feeding on flower nectar
Eye- or paddy-shaped eggs with a yellowish to bright orange coloration, laid one at a time
|Distribution||Exclusively found throughout the state of California|
|Habitat||Mostly prefer the foothill regions, chaparral, oak or coniferous woodlands|
|Predators||Birds, frogs, toads, snakes, lizards, ants, wasps, etc. Eggs are targeted by smaller predators|
|Host plants||Typical host plant of the caterpillar is False Indigo (Amorpha californica)|
|Adult diet||Flower nectar|
Did You Know?
- The butterfly has been the state insect of the U.S. state of California since 1972, while it was the first US state to declare a ‘state insect’.
- The California dogface butterflies fly so rapidly that it is almost a challenge to click a photograph of these insects with wings open.
- The epithet ‘dogface’ comes from a wing pattern in the male that resembles a silhouette of a dog’s head. Some people think that the ‘face’ looks like a poodle’s.
- In 1977, a 13-cent postal stamp of the California dogface butterfly was released in the US, a specimen of which is still in the National Postal Museum.
- California dogface butterflies are said to be easily attracted to purple flowers.