California State Insect

California Dogface Butterfly

California State Insect: California Dogface Butterfly

(Zerene eurydice)

Adopted on July 28, 1972.

The California dogface butterfly or dog head, (Zerene eurydice,) was designated California official State Insect in 1972. The butterfly is found only in California from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada to the Coast Ranges and from Sonoma south to San Diego. The male has a yellow silhouette of a dog's head on its wings. The female is usually entirely yellow with a black spot on the upper wings. 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.

California State Insect: California Dogface Butterfly

California State Insect: California Dogface Butterfly

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 to 31 mm. See picture (main page) - unfortunately lacking the dog-pattern.

Characteristics of the California Dogface Butterfly

California Dogface (Colias eurydice [Boisduval])

Wing span: 2 - 2 1/2 inches (5.1 - 6.3 cm).

Identification: Black outer half of male forewing encloses yellow-orange "dog's head" tinged with light purple iridescence. Black "eye" very near or touching the border. Hind wing yellow-orange, sometimes with black border. Female all yellow with a black upper forewing cell spot; sometimes with scattered black scaling on outer half.

Life history: Males patrol for females.

Flight: Two flights from April-May and July-August.

Caterpillar hosts: Usually false indigo (Amorpha californica) in the pea family (Fabaceae).

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Foothills, chaparral, oak or coniferous woodlands.

Range: North-central California south to Baja California, west of the central mountains and deserts.

California Law

The law designating the California dog-face butterfly as the official California state insect is found in the California Government Code, Title 1, Division 2, Chapter 2.

SECTION 420-429.8

424.5. The California dog-face butterfly (Zerene eurydice) is the official State Insect.

Taxonomic Hierarchy: California Dog-face Butterfly

Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
Phylum: Arthropoda (Arthropods)
    Subphylum: Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class: Insecta (Insects)
Order: Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily: Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
    Family: Pieridae (Whites, Sulphurs, Yellows)
        Subfamily: Coliadinae (Sulphurs and Yellows)
Genus: Zerene (Dogfaces)
Species: eurydice (California Dogface)

State Insects,
Butterflies, and Bugs
State Insects,
State insects are selected by 45 states of the 50 United States. Some states have more than one designated insect, or have multiple categories (e.g., state insect and state butterfly, etc.).