Butterfly Listing by Common Name


The skippers are a worldwide family of about 3500 species that appear to be "sister" to the rest of the "true butterflies". The clubs on the tips of the antennae are usually hooked. Our California skippers fall into two or three subfamilies: the spread-wing skippers (Pyrginae), the folded-wing skippers (Hesperiinae), and the Heteropterinae.

The spread-winged skippers are generally dark brown and hold both sets of their wings open when landed. They use a wide variety of hostplants, including oaks, Ceanothus, legumes, mallows, and even saltbush. California genera include Pyrgus, Heliopetes, Erynnis, Thorybes, Epargyreus, and Pholisora.

The folded-wing skippers have a characteristic posture when they land: the forewings are held at a 45o angle to the rest of the body while the hindwing is held open and flat. This gives them a "fighter-jet" like appearance. They are largely orange and tawny, and many have whitish chevrons on the ventral hindwing, although some genera are dark brown. All members of this group feed on grasses or grassy-like plants (like sedges and rushes) as caterpillars, and as a result, they are often called the grass skippers. California genera include Hesperia, Ochlodes, Polites, Poanes, Hylephila, Lerodea, Amblyscirtes, and Atalopedes.

A third subfamily, the Heteropterinae, is weakly differentiated from the other skipper subfamilies, but the lone California representative is distinctive: Carterocephalus palaemon.

Polites sabuleti ssp. "Verdi" Sandhill Skipper
Polites sabuleti ssp.
Carterocephalus palaemon Arctic Skipper
Carterocephalus palaemon
Hesperia columbia Columbian Skipper
Hesperia columbia
Pyrgus communis Common Checkered Skipper
Pyrgus communis
Pholisora catullus Common Sooty-Wing
Pholisora catullus
Erynnis icelus Dreamy Dusky-Wing
Erynnis icelus
Hesperia colorado idaho East Slope Colorado Skipper
Hesperia colorado idaho
Lerodea eufala Eufala Skipper
Lerodea eufala
Atalopedes campestris Field Skipper, Sachem
Atalopedes campestris
Hylephila phyleus Fiery Skipper
Hylephila phyleus
Erynnis funeralis Funereal Dusky-Wing
Erynnis funeralis
Hesperia lindseyi Lindsey's Skipper
Hesperia lindseyi
Erynnis tristis Mournful Dusky-Wing, Sad Dusky-Wing
Erynnis tristis
Thorybes mexicana nevada Nevada Cloudy-Wing
Thorybes mexicana nevada
Hesperia nevada Nevada Skipper
Hesperia nevada
Thorybes pylades Northern Cloudy-Wing
Thorybes pylades
Heliopetes ericetorum Northern White Skipper
Heliopetes ericetorum
Erynnis pacuvius Pacuvius Duskywing, Grinnell's Duskywing
Erynnis pacuvius
Erynnis persius Persius Dusky-Wing
Erynnis persius
Erynnis propertius Propertius Dusky-Wing
Erynnis propertius
Amblyscirtes vialis Roadside Skipper
Amblyscirtes vialis
Polites sabuleti sabuleti Sandhill Skipper
Polites sabuleti sabuleti
Hesperia colorado ssp. Serpentine Colorado Skipper
Hesperia colorado ssp.
Epargyreus clarus Silver-Spotted Skipper
Epargyreus clarus
Erynnis brizo lacustra Sleepy Dusky-Wing, Leather Oak Dusky-Wing
Erynnis brizo lacustra
Pyrgus scriptura Small Checkered Skipper, Least Checkered Skipper
Pyrgus scriptura
Polites sonora Sonoran Skipper
Polites sonora
Polites sabuleti tecumseh Tecumseh Skipper
Polites sabuleti tecumseh
Ochlodes agricola The Farmer, Rural Skipper
Ochlodes agricola
Hesperia colorado tildeni Tilden's Skipper
Hesperia colorado tildeni
Pyrgus ruralis Two-Banded Skipper
Pyrgus ruralis
Poanes melane Umber Skipper
Poanes melane
Hesperia colorado harpalus West Slope Colorado Skipper
Hesperia colorado harpalus
Thorybes diversus Western Cloudy-Wing
Thorybes diversus
Ochlodes sylvanoides Woodland Skipper
Ochlodes sylvanoides
Hesperia juba Yuba Skipper
Hesperia juba
Ochlodes yuma Yuma Skipper
Ochlodes yuma


With about 6000 species worldwide, the morphological diversity within the brushfoots is immense. There have been decades of debates about how to classify the group and what traits are important and useful. For our purposes, the uniting characteristic of the brushfoots is the reduction of the front pair of legs into small, brush-like appendages that serve no real function, rather like the human appendix or tailbone. As a result, while they still have 3 pairs of legs (an insect characteristic), only two of those leg pairs are actually functional. Brushfoots are some of our largest and recognizable butterflies, including the monarch (Danaus plexippus), painted lady (Vanessa cardui), California tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica), and mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa).

Speyeria atlantis irene Atlantis Fritillary
Speyeria atlantis irene
Chlosyne lacinia Bordered Patch
Chlosyne lacinia
Junonia coenia Buckeye
Junonia coenia
Phyciodes orseis herlani California Crescent
Phyciodes orseis herlani
Coenonympha tullia california California Ringlet
Coenonympha tullia california
Adelpha bredowii californica California Sister
Adelpha bredowii californica
Nymphalis californica California Tortoiseshell
Nymphalis californica
Speyeria callippe juba Callippe Fritillary
Speyeria callippe juba
Speyeria callippe ssp. Callippe Fritillary
Speyeria callippe ssp.
Speyeria coronis Crown Fritillary, Coronis Fritillary
Speyeria coronis
Euphydryas editha Edith's Checkerspot
Euphydryas editha
Polygonia faunus Faun, Green Comma
Polygonia faunus
Phyciodes campestris campestris/montana Feather River Crescent
Phyciodes campestris campestris/montana
Phyciodes campestris campestris Field Crescent
Phyciodes campestris campestris
Speyeria egleis Great Basin Fritillary, Egleis Fritillary
Speyeria egleis
Coenonympha tullia ampelos Great Basin Ringlet, East Slope Ringlet
Coenonympha tullia ampelos
Cercyonis sthenele silvestris Great Basin Wood Nymph
Cercyonis sthenele silvestris
Agraulis vanillae Gulf Fritillary
Agraulis vanillae
Chlosyne hoffmanni Hoffmann's Checkerspot
Chlosyne hoffmanni
Speyeria hydaspe Hydaspe Fritillary
Speyeria hydaspe
Oeneis chryxus ivallda Ivallda Arctic
Oeneis chryxus ivallda
Thessalia leanira Leanira Checkerspot
Thessalia leanira
Speyeria cybele leto Leto Fritillary
Speyeria cybele leto
Limenitis lorquini Lorquin's Admiral
Limenitis lorquini
Nymphalis milberti Milbert's Tortoiseshell
Nymphalis milberti
Danaus plexippus Monarch
Danaus plexippus
Phyciodes campestris montana Montana Crescent
Phyciodes campestris montana
Speyeria mormonia Mormon Fritillary
Speyeria mormonia
Nymphalis antiopa Mourning Cloak
Nymphalis antiopa
Phyciodes mylitta Mylitta Crescent
Phyciodes mylitta
Speyeria callippe nevadensis Nevada Silverspot
Speyeria callippe nevadensis
Phyciodes campestris inornatus Northeastern California Crescent
Phyciodes campestris inornatus
Chlosyne palla Northern Checkerspot
Chlosyne palla
Cercyonis pegala boopis Ox-Eyed Satyr
Cercyonis pegala boopis
Vanessa cardui Painted Lady
Vanessa cardui
Danaus gilippus Queen
Danaus gilippus
Vanessa atalanta Red Admiral
Vanessa atalanta
Polygonia satyrus Satyr Anglewing
Polygonia satyrus
Cercyonis oetus Small Wood-Nymph
Cercyonis oetus
Euphydryas chalcedona Variable Checkespot, Chalcedon Checkerspot
Euphydryas chalcedona
Vanessa annabella West Coast Lady
Vanessa annabella
Vanessa virginiensis West Virginia Lady, American Painted Lady
Vanessa virginiensis
Boloria epithore Western Meadow Fritillary
Boloria epithore
Polygonia zephyrus Zephyr Anglewing
Polygonia zephyrus
Speyeria zerene Zerene Fritillary
Speyeria zerene


The Gossamer-wings are a very diverse and complex family with at least 4750 species worldwide. In California, they can be grouped into the coppers (subfamily Lycaeninae), the blues (subfamily Polyommatinae), and the hairstreaks (subfamily Theclinae). Many species have mutualistic relationships with ants (myrmecophily) where the caterpillar excretes complex carbohydrates through specialized glands for the ants (similar to aphids). In return, the ants defend the caterpillar from predators and parasitoids. While this relationship is usually facultative, the mutualism turns into trickery in some Lycaenid species and the butterfly caterpillars switch from being herbivores to become obligate predators on ant larvae inside the ant mound. As long as the caterpillar continues to produces sugary rewards for the ants, the ants are willing to accept, or are oblivious to, the carnage around them. Other Lycaenid caterpillars are predators on aphids being tended by ants.

Lycaeides melissa melissa "Agricultural" Melissa Blue
Lycaeides melissa melissa
Brephidium exile (Western) Pygmy Blue
Brephidium exile
Plebejus acmon Acmon Blue
Plebejus acmon
Lycaeides idas anna Anna Blue
Lycaeides idas anna
Glaucopsyche piasus Arrowhead Blue
Glaucopsyche piasus
Satyrium behrii Behr's Hairstreak
Satyrium behrii
Lycaena heteronea Blue Copper, "Varied Blue"
Lycaena heteronea
Callophrys dumetorum Bramble Hairstreak
Callophrys dumetorum
Satyrium californica California Hairstreak
Satyrium californica
Lycaena arota virginiensis Desert Tailed Copper
Lycaena arota virginiensis
Euphilotes enoptes Dotted Blue
Euphilotes enoptes
Everes comyntas Eastern Tailed Blue
Everes comyntas
Lycaena editha Edith's Copper
Lycaena editha
Satyrium auretorum Gold-Hunter's Hairstreak
Satyrium auretorum
Habrodais grunus Golden Hairstreak, Golden Oak Hairstreak
Habrodais grunus
Lycaena gorgon Gorgon Copper
Lycaena gorgon
Agriades podarce Gray Blue
Agriades podarce
Strymon melinus Gray Hairstreak, Common Hairstreak
Strymon melinus
Lycaena xanthoides Great Copper
Lycaena xanthoides
Atlides halesus Great Purple Hairstreak
Atlides halesus
Plebejus saepiolus Greenish Blue
Plebejus saepiolus
Plebejus icarioides Icarioides Blue, Boisduval's Blue
Plebejus icarioides
Mitoura johnsoni Johnson's Hairstreak
Mitoura johnsoni
Mitoura gryneus chalcosiva Juniper Hairstreak
Mitoura gryneus chalcosiva
Callophrys sheridanii lemberti Lembert's Green Hairstreak
Callophrys sheridanii lemberti
Plebejus lupini Lupine Blue
Plebejus lupini
Lycaena cupreus Lustrous Copper
Lycaena cupreus
Leptotes marina Marine Blue
Leptotes marina
Lycaena mariposa Mariposa Copper
Lycaena mariposa
Incisalia mossii Moss' Elfin
Incisalia mossii
Satyrium tetra Mountain-Mahogany Hairstreak
Satyrium tetra
Mitoura gryneus nelsoni Nelson's Hairstreak
Mitoura gryneus nelsoni
Lycaena helloides Purplish Copper
Lycaena helloides
Hemiargus isola Reakirt's Blue
Hemiargus isola
Lycaena rubidus Ruddy Copper
Lycaena rubidus
Satyrium saepium Sepia Hairstreak
Satyrium saepium
Plebejus shasta Shasta Blue
Plebejus shasta
Glaucopsyche lygdamus Silvery Blue
Glaucopsyche lygdamus
Lycaena nivalis Snowy Copper, Lilac-Bordered Copper
Lycaena nivalis
Philotes sonorensis Sonoran Blue
Philotes sonorensis
Satyrium fuliginosum semiluna Sooty Gossamer-Wing
Satyrium fuliginosum semiluna
Satyrium fuliginosum fuliginosum Sooty Gossamer-Wing
Satyrium fuliginosum fuliginosum
Celastrina ladon echo Spring Azure, Echo Blue
Celastrina ladon echo
Euphilotes battoides Square-Spotted Blue
Euphilotes battoides
Lycaena arota arota Tailed Copper
Lycaena arota arota
Mitoura spinetorum Thicket Hairstreak
Mitoura spinetorum
Incisalia augustinus iroides Western Brown Elfin
Incisalia augustinus iroides
Incisalia eryphon Western Pine Elfin
Incisalia eryphon
Everes amyntula Western Tailed Blue
Everes amyntula
Satyrium sylvinus Willow Hairstreak
Satyrium sylvinus


This family contains the largest and some of the most recognizable of all California butterflies. There are about 600 species worldwide. The swallowtails (subfamily Papilioninae) usually have at least one set of long tails on the hindwings and have stripes of black and yellow or white. Our genera are Battus and Papilio. The parnassians (subfamily Parnassiinae), also sometimes called Apollos, lack tails and are ghostly transluscent white or yellow-white with black and red spots: not your typical swallowtail. Our two Parnassius species are the only California representatives of this relatively small group.

Papilio zelicaon Anise Swallowtail
Papilio zelicaon
Parnassius phoebus behrii Behr's Parnassian
Parnassius phoebus behrii
Parnassius clodius Clodius Parnassian
Parnassius clodius
Papilio indra Indra Swallowtail
Papilio indra
Papilio eurymedon Pale Swallowtail
Papilio eurymedon
Battus philenor Pipevine Swallowtail
Battus philenor
Papilio multicaudatus Two-Tailed Swallowtail
Papilio multicaudatus
Papilio rutulus Western Tiger Swallowtail
Papilio rutulus


Pierids are rather conspicuous white, yellow, or orange butterflies, with around 1000 species worldwide. They primarily feed on plants in the legume and crucifer families, although some odd groups, like our Neophasia menapia, feed on conifers. Some Pierids, especially Colias sulphurs and Pieris whites, have taught us much about species recognition (based on ultraviolet reflectance patterns) and seasonally-induced polymorphism and phenotypic plasticity.

Pontia beckerii Becker's White
Pontia beckerii
Zerene eurydice California Dog-Face
Zerene eurydice
Pontia protodice Checkered White
Pontia protodice
Phoebis sennae Cloudless Sulphur
Phoebis sennae
Nathalis iole Dainty Sulphur
Nathalis iole
Euchloe hyantis lotta East Slope Marble
Euchloe hyantis lotta
Pieris rapae European Cabbage Butterfly, Imported Cabbageworm, Cabbage White
Pieris rapae
Anthocharis lanceolata Gray Marble, Boisduval's Marble
Anthocharis lanceolata
Pieris napi Gray-Veined White
Pieris napi
Euchloe ausonides Large Marble
Euchloe ausonides
Colias eurytheme Orange Sulphur, Alfalfa Butterfly
Colias eurytheme
Neophasia menapia Pine White
Neophasia menapia
Colias alexandra Queen Alexandra's Sulphur
Colias alexandra
Anthocharis sara sara Sara Orange-Tip
Anthocharis sara sara
Euchloe hyantis hyantis Small Marble
Euchloe hyantis hyantis
Euchloe hyantis "foothill" Small Marble
Euchloe hyantis "foothill"
Pontia sisymbrii Spring White, California White
Pontia sisymbrii
Anthocharis stella Stella Orange-Tip
Anthocharis stella
Anthocharis sara thoosa Thoosa Orange-Tip
Anthocharis sara thoosa
Pontia occidentalis Western White
Pontia occidentalis
Colias philodice (eriphyle) Yellow Sulphur
Colias philodice (eriphyle)


The Metal-marks are a dramatically colored and patterned, and consist of at least 1250 species. Most of these small butterflies are Neotropical in distribution, and only one species ranges into central California. Like the Gossamer-wings, many metal-marks are myrmecophilous.

Apodemia mormo Mormon Metal-Mark
Apodemia mormo