Zerene eurydice

California Dogface

Our California state insect. In flight, males reveal a pinkish-purplish (structural) sheen in the poodle-head-shaped area outlined in black on the forewing. This area is yellow in southern dogfaces, which sometimes are found with this species (but are far less common here than in, for instance, Arizona). Female eurydice is easy to distinguish: they are basically all yellow. These two species can hybridize. They can both be quickly distinguished in the field from orange and Harford's sulphurs by their sharp wing tips. A black-edged hind wing usually means you're seeing a Southern Dogface male.

The larval food plants are false indigo, Amorpha fruticosa and A. californica, in the Fabaceae family. There are said to be two broods, though I'm not sure this is a hard-and-fast rule in the field. I've seen them from early January to late October. Females seem to like to place eggs where stems are beginning to form, and larvae eat the tender leaves.

Female California Dogface - Zerene eurydice
A female California dogface at a favorite place for nectar: bull thistle. This was along Seven Oaks Road on August 16th, 2023.
Male California Dogface - Zerene eurydice
This male California dogface was at the same spot on August 5th, 2023. When backlit like this, field marks are easy to see.
Eggs of California Dogface - Zerene eurydice on False Indigo host plant
A female California dogface oviposited on this stem of false indigo, and close inspection revealed at least four eggs at this spot. These butterflies overwinter as adults. Cactus Springs Trail, March 30, 2011.
Egg of California Dogface - Zerene eurydice
An egg of Zerene eurydice on false indigo (Amorpha fruticosa). When fresh they are closer to white as in the photo below. July 26, 2020.
Caterpillar of California Dogface - Zerene eurydice on False Indigo host plant
After a long search, I finally found a larva of the California dogface on the false indigo that is common along the Cactus Springs Trail, where this butterfly can be common depending on time of year. May 19, 2012.

©Dennis Walker