April 13, 2014 - Found plenty of Glaucopsyche piasus excubita along Whiskey Flat Trail in the Kern River Valley (scroll down). Also at wildflowers on the same trail was a pleasant surprise: Chlosyne palla australomontana.
April 7, 2014 - I decided to take a chance in this dry year and make the long trek to the Walker Pass/Kelso Valley region of Kern County. Conditions were not promising but I did get a few photos, including an Arrowhead Blue I wanted: Glaucopsyche piasus excubita. I also saw a few Silvery Blues from an interesting population, and another of the eosierra subspecies of Boisduval's Blue. Also seen: hundreds of Painted Ladies, a Juba Skipper, a few whites inc. protodice, a couple of Melissa Blues, and not much else. The colorado desert area to the south is much better right now for butterflies.
March 24, 2014 - Back in the desert, I was fortunate to cross paths with the rare Strymon istapa clenchi, the first I've seen. This was again at Cactus Spring Trail.
March 10, 2014 - Conditions were fairly dry at Cactus Spring Trail this weekend, but with the warmer weather butterflies were emerging. This Sonoran Blue female was one of several seen not far down the trail. Also seen: California Dogface, Dainty Sulphur, the desertolimbus subspecies of the Gray Marble, male Sara Orangetips, Behr's Metalmark, 'Henne's' Chalcedon/Variable Checkerspot, migrating Painted Ladies, and Funereal Duskywings; none were flying in large numbers. Conspicuously absent were Loki Juniper Hairstreaks, Perplexing Hairstreaks, and Brown Elfins.
Sept. 28, 2013 - Late summer rains in the desert have brought out the butterflies at a few spots. I found two Palmer's Metalmarks flying at Scissors Crossing among a large number of California Patches and a few other choice butterflies. I also came across a nice Leda Ministreak, many Mojave Sootywings, and Western Pygmy Blues were common. The previous weekend I hiked Cactus Spring Trail twice. The action was good there as well, particularly down at Horsethief Creek, which was full of flowers and butterflies, and I've added some Queen and Dainty Sulphur photos from that locale.
June 29, 2013 - Up in Big Bear to escape the heat, we found, among other things, a nice, fresh Nelson's Hairstreak, dark Reakirt's Blues, an ovipositing Pacuvius Duskywing, and Western Tiger Swallowtails doing a mating dance. It's dry this year, but flights are decent for many species so far.
June 9, 2013 - The beautiful Hermes Copper is flying around the Descanso area in remote San Diego County. After several attempts in previous seasons, I finally was able to see this amazing insect. Many thanks to Mark Walker, who suggested the time and place to me a year ago. Mark knows his stuff.
May 19, 2013 - Another trip to Catalina Island meant another search for the endemic Strymon avalona, the Avalon Scrub Hairstreak. Got it this time, just above Two Harbors.
May 11, 2013 - Thanks to a tip from Andrew Kim, I found the subspecies of Arrowhead Blue called "umbrosa" - Glaucopsyche piasus umbrosa - in good numbers in a patch of their host plant, Summer Lupine (Lupinus formosus).
March 9, 2013 - A surprise trio of Cloudless Sulphur larvae were wandering in my backyard looking for places to pupate. What made this interesting was that these were different from any of the scores of caterpillars of this species I've seen; they are the green form and very striking. It's amazing how different they are from the usual yellow form.
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 225 taxa that I've listed for our area. 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 (176 as of April 2014), as well as their host plants. Some that are 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.
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, John Pasko, Chris Henzlik, Mark Walker, David Horner and Andrew Kim for particularly valuable help with identifications, locations, suggestions, etc.