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Butterflies of the SF Bay Area

Part I
Papilionidae & Pieridae
Photos by Kevin Hintsa & Hank Fabian

Butterfly Anatomy
Stigma: A section of scent scales located on the
forewing of a male butterfly (specifically Hairstreaks
and Skippers) that produces pheromones, useful in
attracting females.

Butterfly Wing Anatomy

Reflective Lunules

Dorsal Vs. Ventral



Dorsal View

Ventral View

Swallowtails & Parnassians

Pipevine Swallowtail
Active period: spring to fall; lay eggs only on new leaves,
regardless of time of year. Fed-Nov.

Location: Briones, San Bruno Mountain. Mostly in the fog

belt . Uncommon inland .

Life Cycle: Overwinters as pupae; single brood has multiple

hatch times from 2 weeks to the following spring. Spring
flight contains previous and newly emerged generations.
Live 1 month.

Sexual Dimorphism: blue hindwing;

duller, white forewing spots

Similar Species: None

Distinguishing Features: Blue and black wings; all forms

including eggs are toxic to vertebrates. Red eggs & larvae.
Larvae mobile, often roadkill.

Western Tiger Swallowtail

Active period: Late February to November but rare past midAugust.
Location: Widespread; tree breeder . Common in the suburbs .

Life Cycle: Bivoltine or trivoltine. Pupae overwinter.

Sexual Dimorphism: larger and more blue on hindwing .
Similar Species: Pale swallowtail & Two-tailed Swallowtail are
paler. Anise Swallowtail is blacker on forewings.
Distinguishing Features: Deep yellow wings with medium-thick
stripes. Single red mark on lower hindwing. One set of tails .
Host plant(s): Sycamore, ash, willow, Prunus, Ligustrum &

Two-tailed Swallowtail
Active period: March to September

Location: Riparian canyons; Mount Diablo.

Life Cycle: 2 to 3 broods: bivoltine or trivoltine

Sexual Dimorphism: larger and more blue

on hindwing .

Similar Species: Western Tiger Swallowtail; Pale


Distinguishing Features: Largest butterfly in our

area; double red marks on lower hindwing; Thin
stripes. Double hindwing appendages.

Host plant(s): Hop tree, sycamore, ash, Prunus.

Pale Swallowtail
Active period: March - August.

Location: Chaparral & canyons. Mt. Diablo ,

Briones etc. Fairly widespread .

Life Cycle: univoltine spring or early summer

Sexual Dimorphism: white pale yellow

Similar Species: Anise swallowtail; Western

Tiger swallowtail; Two-tailed swallowtail.

Distinguishing Features: pale color; large

stripes; conspicuous orange/blue on hindwings

Host plant(s): Coffeeberry, Ceanothus.

Anise Swallowtail
Active period: Spring & summer
Location: Widespread , including vacant lots .
Life Cycle: multivoltine; spring = smaller &
paler; summer = larger & brighter.
Sexual Dimorphism: similar
Similar Species: Western Tiger Swallowtail .
Distinguishing Features: Large amount of black
in forewings .
Host plant(s): species with anisic aldehyde or
anithiole. Umbelliferae and Rutaceae ,
especially Foeniculum vulgare .
Note: Larvae use butyric acid as a defense

Whites, Orange-tips & Sulfurs

Pine White
Active period: March - May

Location: Locally found only in Sonoma County

and Napa counties.

Life Cycle: Univoltine; eggs overwinter.

Sexual Dimorphism: white; gray to pale

yellow, deeper veins, pink along hindwing
edges and smaller.

Similar Species: Veined White, Cabbage White,

Checkered White.
Distinguishing Features: Dark distal forewing.
Thin dark ventral hindwing veins . High flying.

Checkered White
Active period: Jan - Dec; large brood Sept-Oct.

Location: Grasslands

Life Cycle: Bivoltine

Sexual Dimorphism: white and gray to

immaculate white in summer. yellowish and
heavily veined.

Similar Species: Cabbage White; Veined White

Distinguishing Features: Checkered pattern

obvious on ventral view. Large square spot in
forewing .

Host plant(s): Mustards

Cabbage White
Active period: Year round

Location: Mainly sunny areas; fields and grasslands

Life Cycle: Multivoltine

Sexual Dimorphism: dull white white to yellowish

Similar Species: Veined White , Checkered White;

Orange Sulphur

Distinguishing Features: No distinct veining or
checkering . Dark wing tips .

Host plant(s): Brassicas

Note: Introduced species; spring brood smaller and less

well marked.

Veined White (Mustard White or Margined White)

Active period: January-April; May-July
Location: Forests, canyons, riparian areas.
Life Cycle: Bivoltine
Sexual Dimorphism: males whiter buffy and
heavily veined.
Similar Species: Cabbage White, Checkered White.
Distinguishing Features: Deep venation with no
checkered pattern.
Host plant(s): Brassica, watercress = host for
second brood.


Sara Orange-tip
Active period: Spring to summer.

Location: : Riparian woodland and chaparral

Life Cycle: Bivoltine: January-April; May- early July
Sexual Dimorphism: more orange on distal forewing
in ; more yellow in summer.
Similar Species: None
Distinguishing Features: Orange distal tips on
forewings; male orange patches are UV reflective.
Host plant(s): Mustards.

Large Marble
Active period: February-April; rarely May-July
Location: Grasslands, open country
Life Cycle: bivoltine.
Sexual Dimorphism: Male forewing more
pointed than and she is more yellow.
Similar Species: Whites and sulphurs; Small
Distinguishing Features: golden reticulations on
ventral surface.
Host plants: Mustards
Note: second brood rarely occurs now; no

Orange Sulphur
Active period: January December.

Location: Open habitats.

Life Cycle: Multivoltine . Spring brood
smaller and paler.
Sexual Dimorphism: solid black dorsal
wing-edging; White spots in dorsal wingedging. are white .
Similar Species: Whites, Large Marble,
Distinguishing Features: Pink spot on
hindwing. Green orange, yellow, white
Host Plants: Legumes

California Dogface
Active period: February-November
Location: Riparian Habitat . Uncommon and local ,
mostly in the North Bay .
Life Cycle: Adults hibernate; bivoltine
Sexual Dimorphism: forewing with UV sheen;
pale yellow
Similar Species: Sulfurs, marbles
Distinguishing Features: Pointed forewings
Host Plants: False Indigo & legumes.
Note: California State Butterfly