SDNHM Monarca: Butterfly Beyond Boundaries

Butterfly Families of our Region

Papilionidae: Swallowtails
Represent by approximately 560 species this group of butterflies is a favorite among butterfly enthusiasts including collectors and photographers. Adults are medium to large with many having "tails" extending from their hind wing. Common colors are black with yellow highlights. They have 3 pairs of walking legs. Most swallowtails overwinter as chrysalises and may spend several years as a pupa before completing their metamorphosis. These high flying butterflies' larvae feed on the citrus, carrot and aristolochia families. See field guide page for Anise Swallowtail and larger images for Giant Swallowtail.

Anise Swallowtail--links to more information (photo by Bob Parks Giant Swallowtail -- links to more information(photo by Bob Parks)

Pieridae: Whites and Sulphurs
Small to medium in size these white, yellow and orange butterflies may be at the root of the "butter" part of butterfly. Quite common in the summer members of this family many be the most abundant species of butterfly on earth. They fly in a seemingly haphazard way and feed primarily on plants in the mustard and clover families. The more temperate members of this group overwinter in the larval or pupa stage while the more tropical species migrate to warm southern areas and recolonize northward in the spring. See field guide pages for Cabbage White, Cloudless Sulphur, and California Dogface.

Cabbage White -- links to more information(photo by Bob Parks)
Cloudless Sulphur -- links to more information(photo by Bob Parks) California Dogface  -- follow link for more information (photo by Bob Parks)

Lycaenidae: Coppers, Hairstreaks, Blues
Small and delicate these frequently bluish butterflies can be quite common at times. This family contains over 4,700 members. Several members of this group's larvae secrete honeydew which attracts ants and the larvae may even reside in ant nests. Overwintering usually occurs in the egg or pupal stages. See field guide page for Mellissa Blue.

Melissa Blue -- links to more information(photo by Bob Parks)

Riodinidae: Metalmarks
Small to medium butterflies with only a few representatives in Southern California. The adults usually have metallic markings on their wings. Controversy surrounds their classification and further research on this group is ongoing.

 

Nymphalidae: Brushfooted Butterflies
A highly variable family with the largest number of species of all the families. The pair of front legs is reduced in size and not used for walking, hence the name brushfoot. Nymphalids are medium to large butterflies. Frequently eggs are laid in clusters and many larvae are gregarious, like to hang out together as a group. Members of this family are also known for nectaring on sap, rotten fruit, dung, and even animal carcasses. Diapause occurs either in the larval or adult stage. See field guide pages for: California Sister, Gulf Fritillary, Common Buckeye, Mourning Cloak, Red Admiral, and West Coast Lady.

California Sister -- follow link to more information (photo by Bob Parks) Gulf Frittilary -- follow link to more information (photo by Bob Parks) Common Buckeye -- follow link to more information (photo by Bob Parks) Mourning Cloak -- follow link to more information (photo by Bob Parks) Red Admiral -- follow link to more information (photo by Bob Parks) West Coast Lady -- follow link to more information (photo by Bob Parks)

Nymphalidae subfamily Danainae: Monarchs
See field guide pages for: Queen and Monarch.

Queen butterfly -- follow link to more information (photo by Bob Parks) Monarch -- follow link to more information (photo by Bob Parks)

Hesperiidae: Skippers
3500 species are found worldwide. These "ancient" butterflies are frequently confused with moths. Their clubbed antenae are frequently hooked and their wings are usually folded back along the body. These small butterflies have large eyes and fly rapidly. This family is split into grass feeders and forb feeders. See field guide page for Fiery Skipper.


Fiery Skipper -- follow link to more information (photo by Bob Parks)

Text by Christian Manion. Photos by Bob Parks.

Monarca | Exhibits