Family: NYMPHALIDAE (Brushfooted Butterflies)
The West Coast Lady ranges from 1 3/4 - 2 1/8 inches, and has an overall mottled orange color. The tip of the forewing is square-edged, which is a diagnostic characteristic. The hindwing has eyespots that are blue in the middle. Caterpillars vary in color from tannish to black.
Range and Habitat
West Coast Lady butterflies are found in open valleys, meadows, roadsides and coastal areas. They are considered a resident species in lowland California, Arizona and New Mexico, but may be seen occasionally throughout much of the western states north to Canada.
Females lay their eggs singly on plants in the mallow family (Malvaceae), which later serve the caterpillars as food. Young caterpillars make a hibernaculum for themselves by creating a tent-like structure out of leaves and silk. The West Coast Lady overwinters as an adult. This is the most common of the Vanessas found in urban and suburban San Diego.
Related or Similar Species
Nymphalidae: Brushfooted Butterflies