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California dogface butterfly facts for kids

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California dogface butterfly
Zerene eurydice f.jpg
Zerene eurydice m.jpg
Scientific classification

Colias eurydice Boisduval, 1855

Zerene eurydice, the California dogface butterfly, is sometimes placed in the related genus as Colias eurydice. This species is endemic to California, and is California's state insect symbol.

On a stamp

First state insect

The California dogface butterfly has been the state insect of the U.S. state of California since 1972. Its endemic range is limited to the state. California was the first state to choose a state insect — and thus, to choose a butterfly — though most of the other states have now followed, and many even have both a state insect and state butterfly. This species is listed as the California state insect.


The 'dogface' name comes from a wing pattern resembling a dog's face (some think it looks like a poodle) which is found on the male of the species. Its wings are an iridescent bluish-black, orange and sulfur-yellow in color. The female has a small black dot on each of its yellow forewings. The typical forewing length is between 22 and 31 millimetres (0.87 and 1.22 in).

Food and habitat

Larvae feed on Amorpha californica, false indigo.

Adults feed on flower nectar. They are said to be especially fond of purple flowers.

In the California chaparral and woodlands habitats of the Santa Ana Mountains in Southern California, the adult California dogface butterflies can often be seen nectaring at roadside thistles: such as the native Cirsium hydrophilum and Cirsium occidentale, and introduced invasive species Cirsium arvense.

These butterflies fly very fast, are difficult to approach unless they are nectaring at flowers; it is a challenge to get a photograph of them with their wings open. The California dogface is a very fast butterfly aiding it in escaping from predators such as birds, frogs, snakes, lizards and wasps.

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