Home / Brush-Footed (Nymphalidae) / California Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica)

California Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica)

California Tortoiseshell
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The California tortoiseshell belonging to the Nymphalidae family is indigenous to California as well as different parts in the United States.

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

California Tortoiseshell Butterfly Caterpillar
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They are small in appearance with a black, spiny body.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Genus: Nymphalis
  • Scientific Name: Nymphalis californica

Pupa

California Tortoiseshell Butterfly Pupa
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The pupa is greyish-violet in color, resembling a leaf, often twitching on getting disturbed.

Adult

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Color and Appearance: When the wings are opened the top of it is orange with large black spots. When the wings are closed it has a grayish and mottled brown appearance similar to a dead leaf. The males have hairier forelegs than females.

California Tortoiseshell Butterfly
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Nymphalis Californica
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Average Wingspan: 3.2-7cm (1 1⁄4–​2 3⁄4 inc)

Flight Pattern: Fast and irregular

Eggs

Though sufficient detail is unavailable regarding their eggs, they are deposited in small clusters on the leaves’ undersides and hatched in 4 to 5 days.

Quick Facts

Distribution British Colombia, Baja California Norte, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and also to New York, Michigan, Vermont and Pennsylvania, though rare.
Habitat Near chapparal growth, brush areas, woodland, and clearings as well as edges of forests
Host Plants Manzanita flowers
Adult Diet Flower nectar

Did You Know

  • This species are known to go through population explosions, causing them to migrate to different regions.
  • The raven is known to be the commonest prey of the California Tortoiseshell butterfly.
California Tortoiseshell Butterfly Pictures
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California Tortoiseshell Butterfly Images
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California Tortoiseshell Butterflies
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