San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Field Guide
California Sister, photo by Bob Parks

Adelpha bredowii californica
California Sister

Family: NYMPHALIDAE (Brushfoots)


The California Sister is a moderately large butterfly that ranges in size from 2 3/8 to 3 1/2 inches. Key field marks include an orange patch near the tip of the brownish black upper front wing, but note that the tip itself is dark. It also has a white median band.

California Sister caterpillars are green on top and brownish pink on the bottom. The pupae are irregular in shape, mostly brown with some white splotches, resembling dead leaves.

Range and Habitat

This butterfly can be found in the Southwestern United States (up to southern Oregon and east to Colorado), in northern Baja, and in northern Mexico. The California Sister's preferred habitats include oak-covered hills, groves, and stream valleys.

Natural History

Females lay their eggs singly on oak leaves (Quercus spp.), which later serve caterpillars as food. Young caterpillars make a long perch for themselves by creating a leaf extension with dung and silk, then overwinter as partially grown caterpillars.

Related or Similar Species

Lorquin's Admiral


Hogue, Charles L. (1993). Insects of the Los Angeles Basin. Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Stewart, Bob. (1998). Common Butterflies of California. Patagonia, Arizona: West Coast Lady Press.

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Website. Butterflies of North America: California Sister Webpage , text by Jane M. Struttman.

Text by Liza Blue in consultation with Christian Manion.
Photos by Bob Parks.

Field Guide: Butterflies | Field Guide Feedback Form