While many other butterfly species can be found across North America, the California dogface butterfly’s range is limited to Central and Southern California. This led California to adopt the dogface butterfly as its official state insect in 1972.
Commonly located in wooded areas of the Santa Ana Mountains, the California dogface is picky about its habitat. Adult butterflies feed mainly on nectar from purple flowers like thistles. Eggs are laid only on false indigo plants, with caterpillars feeding on the vegetation until they pupate.
Male dogface butterflies’ wings are yellow-orange with black sections on the upper pair (forewings) C a design that resembles a dog’s face. This earned the species its strange name. Females, on the other hand, are completely yellow with a single dark spot on each forewing.
The California dogface butterfly’s unique wing pattern makes it a sought-after species by many nature photographers. However, the California dogface flies exceptionally fast, making it difficult to spot one with its wings open long enough to take a photo. These butterflies only remain still while they are drinking nectar C making them a rare and beautiful sight.