butterfly photo

The Latest

bullet pointJune 19, 2019 - Decided to try the mountains on a beautiful Wednesday. Headed to Sunset Peak, mainly to see if I could get another photograph of an Indra Swallowtail. I did, but it was worn and not worth posting. But this Clemence's Blue female is typical of the beautiful blues flying here. Earlier in June I checked out a large patch of Eriogonum inflatum at a roadside pullout along Hwy. 74 in Palm Desert that I'd noticed in years past. I was happy to find not only a healthy population of Desert Metalmarks, but a Wright's Metalmark as well (the latter on Sweetbush).

bullet pointApril 22, 2019 - Cactus Spring Trail has been strangely slow for many species, but things seem to be picking up, and today was the best day there for the year (fifth visit so far). I have some catching up to do, but for now here's a Becker's White caterpillar I happened to find. That's the only new thing for this site, though I do have some nice photos among the thousand or so I've taken there lately. Behr's metalmarks are now flying (they weren't last weekend). Some butterflies (such as several whites) are having a great year, while other species are noticably absent or nearly so. For instance, among desirable species, I've seen one Sonoran Blue, no Desert Black Swallowtails, no Loki, no Small Checkered Skippers. Juba and albescens are now out. Hennei and N. californica fading fast.

bullet pointMarch 1, 2019 - Headed out to Cactus Spring Trail as things have finally begun to warm up there. The plants are generally in their winter sleep, as are most butterflies, but I was kept company by a few species. Painted Ladies are in a dispersal, so they are everywhere, but they were rivalled at times by surpringly common California Tortoiseshells. The first male Sara Orangetips have also emerged, as had a single Euphydryas chalcedona hennei. The creeks are flowing, and there is snow on the mountains; things will be hopping there in a month or so.

bullet pointJanuary 12, 2019 - Lots of rain has me encouraged that the coming year will be far better than was 2018. The few hikes I did last year were in depressingly dry landscapes, and I basically wrote the year off early on and indulged in other things. But this year will certainly be better, and I hope to make the most of it. I hope you do too.

bullet pointJuly 28, 2018 - I've added photos of Mourning Cloak eggs and a cluster of early-instar larvae (scroll down a bit). Not much else to report this very dry year. I hiked Cactus Spring Trail a few times in the spring, and it was as dry as I've ever seen it. A trip to San Diego County was also a bust. Hopefully it will be a good autumn.

bullet pointJuly 29, 2017 - Another new addition, this one from Bald Mountain off Sherman Pass: Papilio indra phyllisae.

bullet pointJuly 24, 2017 - Here's a new species for me: the Blue Copper, Lycaena heteronea clara, from Frazier Park near the Ventura and Kern County border. On the same trip, a female Euphilotes enoptes tildeni opened her wings long enough for me to get some shots.

bullet pointJuly 10, 2017 - Made what was supposed to be a more extensive return to the Sherman Pass area with an overnight stay in Kernville. Sherman Pass Road, it turns out, was closed at 5900' by the Schaeffer Fire, which is burning north of the road as I type this. So I headed to my day two destination instead: Piute Mountain Road, which I would access from the west. There I would get another good photo of Euphilotes glaucon comstocki, which were common on Eriogonum umbellatum. Speyeria callippe macaria was also flying, and I got some decent shots to improve that page. The photos I'm happiest with are those of a single, very fresh Speyeria hydaspe viridicornis that I found roadside along the 155 near Shirley Meadows. I've wanted better shots of that butterfly, and this was a good one. I spent the night, and during breakfast it began to rain. I spent a couple of hours along the 155, hoping for the weather to clear, but the rain continued, heavily at times. That's a real risk with the Sierras. At least I beat the traffic home.

bullet pointJuly 4, 2017 - I was on the southern side of the Tehachapis on Sunday and was struck by the underside of this fresh Plebejus melissa paradoxa. On a June 28th getaway to the Sherman Pass Road, I found quite a few interesting butterflies, including six new ones. Two were fritillaries: Speyeria egleis egleis, and Speyeria zerene monticola. Atop Bald Mountain, I finally got shots of Euchloe hyantis hyantis, and also got good looks at a desert subspecies of the Hedgerow Hairstreak, Satyrium saepium subaridum. A skipper called Hesperia colorado idaho was also there in huge numbers. At Alder Creek (6800'), I saw several Euphilotes glaucon comstocki nectaring with hundreds of Field Crescents there. A highlight for me was this ant-attended larva of Glaucopsyche piasus piasus from Alder Creek. It was a strange visit: the wet meadows were devoid of butterflies, while flowers at certain turn-outs would host plenty of butterflies. Some species were out in abundance, others nowhere to be found (at least yet). I plan to return soon and expect a different experience as things evolve there after this banner year for precipitation. Also, check out the pages for Callophrys siva near chalcosiva and Plebejus lupini chlorina, both of which are butterflies I got a handle on this June thanks to the guidance of John Emmel and several visits to the Sugarloaf Mountain/Onyx Peak area and a visit to Mt. Piños. The chlorina on umbellatum there is actually a "close ally" of chlorina" and basically an undescribed subspecies according to Dr. Emmel, so as I get photos of true chlorina I'll create a separate page for this interesting McGill Trail population. There were Veined Blues on the wing on the summmit as well, so there are new photos on the Plebejus neurona page.

bullet pointJune 6, 2017 - Quick update after a busy weekend. I went to the Big Bear area and hiked a road that leads from the Sugarloaf trailhead all the way to Wildhorse Meadows, and was lucky enough to come across Callophrys sprinetorum spinetorum, the Thicket Hairstreak. This was my first sighting. I also got good looks at the many California Tortoiseshells there. I may have more from that day presently. I spent that night in Palm Desert and spent the next day at Cactus Spring Trail, where I got a nice shot of a fresh Great Purple Hairstreak - Atlides halesus corcorani. I also came across a larva of - most likely - a Ceraunus Blue on Astragalus palmeri. I've added another photo of a Small Checkered-skipper from that day and revamped that page as well.

bullet pointMay 29, 2017 - I'm updating this site pretty comprehensively, in part to make it mobile-friendly and technically up-to-date, but also to improve and expand the content. It's going to evolve a bit as I get the look and feel right. Going through each page with a fine-tooth comb will take awhile, but I think it will be worthwhile. For instance, I'll be adding general information to the individual butterfly and plant pages above the photos. I collapsed the books and links pages into one "resource" page for simplicity. The six family pages will have to change so I can get away from using tables in my html - which aren't device friendly in the least - but I haven't settled on exactly how I want to do that yet. Just an FYI - changes are afoot.

I've also made it out to the field a few times lately. Here are some new photos of not-new species: a California Hairstreak from Icehouse Canyon in the San Gabriels below Mt. Baldy (I wanted spinetorum); nominate Euphydryas chalcedona from the same day; Pontia protodice from Big Bear (I saw E. hyantis andrewsi but couldn't photograph it); and I added to a plant page - the subscaposum variety of Wright's Buckwheat (looking for dialeucoides in vain). Out in the desert a couple weeks ago, I learned that Pontia beckerii uses Sisymbrium orientale at Cactus Spring Trail, where it's had a good year; I'd wondered what, if anything, it could be using since the host I associate so much with it - bladderpod - doesn't grow there. I feel like I'm just scratching the surface in terms of what there is to learn.

bullet pointMay 1, 2017 - Had a few days off, so I headed out to the desert again to take a longer look at Cactus Spring Trail, which I did on Thursday and Friday, and on the way back on Sunday I stopped at a new spot for me: the Whitewater Preserve in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, managed by the Wildlands Conservancy. This is the same organization that manages the Bluff Lake preserve, one of my favorite places to visit.

Not far along Cactus Spring Trail, I came across the distinctive larva of a Spring White (Pontia sisymbrii). Butterflies were plentiful; I've mostly been adding only new things to this site but I took nearly 500 photos; here's one of a butterfly that isn't new but it's one I'm always happy to see: Papilio polyxenes coloro.

I got something new at Whitewater by following a Becker's White as it oviposited on its host plant, bladderpod, which is common there. The egg photo is about as good as I'm likely to get in the field without a tripod.

bullet pointApril 25, 2017 - Back on March 3rd, I found a larva of Euphydryas chalcedona hennei that had attached itself to a leaf on Cactus Spring Trail. Returning nearly 4 weeks later, I saw that the butterfly had emerged.

bullet pointApril 22, 2017 - Cactus Spring Trail is really fantastic right now after all the winter rains. Within moments of getting out of my car at the trailhead, I'd seen several species of butterfly and came upon a last instar larva of Papilio polyxenes coloro, the Desert Swallowtail. Several adults were out as well. I've seen some "firsts" for this particular trail this spring, including this Sleepy Orange - Abeis nicippe. The usual suspects were out in abundance and the plants are doing better than they have in years. It's been good to see creeks running that have been dry the last several years.


Nearly all these photographs of butterflies and their host plants were taken either in my garden, the local park, or (most often) in wild areas within a few hours of my home in Long Beach, California. Butterflies are a life-long interest of mine, and I started photographing them seriously beginning in the summer of 2005. I've listed on six pages - one for each family represented locally - all the butterflies in my area (to subspecies level) and their larval host plants, with links to pages I've created for each butterfly. Some of these are rarely seen and a few are even endangered species, and thus a challenge to find and photograph, but I've included them on the list if they fly in this region. In fact, the challenging butterflies are often the most interesting. There are, of course, various difficulties with creating a comprehensive list to subspecies level, and so it tends to evolve as I learn more or with taxonomic changes.

In my garden I may see fifteen or so different species in a typical year (I've seen twenty-five species there over the years). But by day-tripping to various places no more than a few hours' drive from my house, I can multiply this number many times over. In fact, there are 256 taxa that I've listed for our area (this number has grown with the addition of more Kern County butterflies). The lists on this site are all of these butterflies - those I'd like to photograph that are in my area or a 'reasonable' drive from where I live. My goal is eventually to see and photograph them all (I have 197 as of July 2017), as well as their host plants. Some that are very rare or only occasionally stray into our area are common in Arizona, and I've included a few photographs from there.

Southern California is an incredibly diverse place to explore and enjoy the natural world. Mountain forests, beaches, wetlands, grasslands, deserts, meadows, even islands - all are within easy reach with their various lepidopterous inhabitants. I've learned to appreciate these places, and I hope my photographs help convey some of the richness of our native flora and fauna.

Feel free to e-mail me: denbugg @t hotmail dot com.


Thanks to everyone for all the help and encouragement I've received over the years. Special thanks to John F. Emmel, Jim Brock, Ken Davenport, Bill Gendron, Gordon Pratt, Fred Heath, Koji Shiraiwa, John Pasko, Chris Henzlik, Mark Walker, David Horner and Andrew Kim for particularly valuable help with identifications, locations, suggestions, etc.

Since April 2007.

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