Get to know our state butterfly and visitors from the tropics in this year's Butterfly Pavilion
Butterfly wings are like name tags with poems on them: the malachite sports the green tinge of its namesake gem, stripes cut across the zebra longwing, and there is something undeniably regal about the fiery-hued monarch. Thick black veins outline rich amber cells, like some kind of natural stained glass. It’s the kind of charismatic butterfly a state would be proud to have. Let’s all congratulate Alabama on that. Our state, unconventional as always, chose the California dogface as its butterfly. (Technically, it’s our state insect).
The California dogface butterfly, Zerene eurydice, gets its name from the male of the species, whose wings look to some like a poodle head in profile. If the monarch’s wings are stained glass, the dogface’s are gouache or watercolor, dark blue or black framing the pinkish dog in profile on the forewing; oranges over yellow and darker orange spots on the hindwing. The female has wheaten-colored wings and a large dark spot near the center of either forewing; with those spots for eyes, it could pass for a dog’s face, too. While the monarch reigns, endemic all over North America, the dogface is ours exclusively, endemic only to California.
This season at the Butterfly Pavilion, the California dogface will be joined by vibrant and surprising species from Central America with incredible wings to back up their poetic names. The blue morpho (Morpho peleides) the Mexican bluewing (Myscelia ethusa) named for their brilliant wings, the cream-spotted tigerwing (Tithorea tarricina) whose name says it all, and the gray cracker (Hamadryas februa), named for the loud “crack” its wings make. Chances are you’ve never seen a dogface in the wild: they fly fast, and in our area they mostly reside in the Santa Ana and San Bernardino mountains and foothills. You’re even less likely to see a blue morpho around these parts, but you can see (and hear) these spectacular species in the Butterfly Pavilion.
Timed-tickets to our outdoor Butterfly Pavilion and Nature Gardens are now available. Members see it free and first with Preview Days beginning August 28, followed by our public reopening on September 11. Limited tickets available.