Updated date:

Common Butterflies Found in Coastal Southern California

Author:

Gulf Fritillary Or Passion Butterfly - Agraulis vanillae

Beautiful orange Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on purple flowers.  Sometimes referred to as Passion Butterfly.

Beautiful orange Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on purple flowers. Sometimes referred to as Passion Butterfly.

Orange Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on white flowers.  Sometimes referred to as a Passion Butterfly.

Orange Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on white flowers. Sometimes referred to as a Passion Butterfly.

Butterflies Seen in Coastal Southern California

There are a number of fairly common butterflies that can be seen in coastal Southern California. Having been born and raised in that area, I grew to love butterflies and flowers from an early age. A good number of the butterflies shown here may be familiar to you, even if you don't live in, nor have traveled to Southern California. That is because many of these overlap into other areas of the country. So you will see some in other areas as well.

When possible, I share the both the names for a butterfly, as many are more familiar with the common names. Sometimes the flower or plant they are on is also mentioned when known. While some of these butterflies are not as bright colored as some that are seen in a tropical rain forest setting, they are beautiful and interesting all the same.

If you love butterflies, consider planting some host plants for the caterpillars, or providing nectar plants in your garden for the adult butterflies. This will draw the adult butterflies for both reasons, and you can see more stages of the life of a butterfly as well. I have done this and highly recommend it as it is like miracles happening before your eyes. Having host plants, water sources, and nectar sources that are protected from too much wind, are critical things for butterflies to survive throughout their fairly short life span. Consider that you are giving a wonderful gift back to nature. Also, avoiding as many chemicals in your garden as possible, whether through insecticides, or herbicides also helps in their survival and propagation.

Orange Sulphur Butterfly - Colias eurytheme

A female orange sulphur butterfly laying an egg.  An excellent capture by Megan McCarty.  Public domain.

A female orange sulphur butterfly laying an egg. An excellent capture by Megan McCarty. Public domain.

Orange Sullphur Butterfly - Colias Eurytheme.

Orange Sullphur Butterfly - Colias Eurytheme.

Nectar Sources and Host Plants for Butterflies in Southern California

Here are some ideas that you can consider for planting flowers or host plants that will draw some butterflies to your yard. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but gives some direction on how to move forward.

Mexican sunflowers are an excellent flower to attract butterflies like Monarchs and more. Butterfly milkweed, or asclepias are also good ones. Milkweed is both a source of sustenance for the adult butterfly as well as for the caterpillars. The adults will lay eggs underneath the leaves so when their young are born, they are literally ready to start eating right where they are. It is amazing they know to just continue to eat until some point they know to stop. You know the rest of the story!

If you have an area in your garden that wind blows through, consider planting butterfly bush there. Planting a few has a nice effect, and you can go with different colors as well. These can grow large and provide some wind barrier so the butterflies don't have to fight the wind while trying to get the nectar they need, etc.

Salvia is another great option in California, to attract butterflies. Dutchman's pipe vine is another great plant to have in a butterfly garden. California lilac, as well as the California Buckthorn, and California wild rose, are all excellent ideas to plant for a butterfly garden. When it is possible, going for plants that are native to your area is really the idea way to plant, no matter where you live. For instance, there are some native honeysuckle plants that are excellent to consider for butterflies.

Tall verbenas and coastal asters are other top flowers to consider. Of course, the beloved California poppy flower is one that will make many butterflies happy along their journey.

Common Buckeye Butterfly - Junonia Coenia

Such a beautiful butterfly, with a neat built in mechanism of eye spots which serve to protect the butterfly from some startled predators.

Such a beautiful butterfly, with a neat built in mechanism of eye spots which serve to protect the butterfly from some startled predators.

The common buckeye is a beautiful butterfly with interesting markings as seen in this picture.

The common buckeye is a beautiful butterfly with interesting markings as seen in this picture.

Some of these butterflies might be well known to you, while others are not so much. Monarchs and the common buck eyes might be more well known, but they are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what kinds of butterflies are out there.

Our lives can be enhanced by the observing of the simple beauties in nature all around us everyday. There is a lot going on if we will but just look for it. It is a nice break from the regular hustle and bustle of life I think.

Lorquin's Admiral Butterfly - Limenitis lorquini

Photo taken at Lodi Lake in Lodi, California. Lorquin's Admiral Butterfly,

Photo taken at Lodi Lake in Lodi, California. Lorquin's Admiral Butterfly,

Painted Lady Butterfly - vanessa virginiensis

A gorgeous capture of the Painted Lady Butterfly on a purple flower.  Public Domain. I believe this is either lantana flowers, or butterfly bush.  Both attract butterflies.

A gorgeous capture of the Painted Lady Butterfly on a purple flower. Public Domain. I believe this is either lantana flowers, or butterfly bush. Both attract butterflies.

The top side of the wings of the painted lady butterfly.  Depending on how the butterfly is holding its wings, you will see different patterns.  They use each as needed.  Sometimes to attract a mate, and the other for camouflage for protection.

The top side of the wings of the painted lady butterfly. Depending on how the butterfly is holding its wings, you will see different patterns. They use each as needed. Sometimes to attract a mate, and the other for camouflage for protection.

Butterfly - Poll

© 2014 Paula

Comments

Paula (author) from The Midwest, USA on October 27, 2014:

Hello Sweetie, yes, I agree. While they aren't like the tropical ones found in some places that have the super bright colors always, they are still special and very beautiful to me. I love to go back and try to capture them with my camera as I can. I think its great you captured one with your camera the other day. Wish I could see it. :) Thanks for sharing.

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on October 15, 2014:

There are definitely some beautiful butterflies here in SoCal. I was happy to capture a picture with one on a flower the other day.

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on June 16, 2014:

I agree with you. I am always on the look out for them and it brightens my day when I see at least one. :)

Paula (author) from The Midwest, USA on June 16, 2014:

Hello Denise, it makes me happy to share some ideas on getting butterflies to our gardens! It makes my day to see one stop by. Thanks so much for your comment and votes! :)

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on June 13, 2014:

Beautiful photos and useful information on how to invite butterflies onto one's property. Shared and rated UP/A/I/B and U

Paula (author) from The Midwest, USA on April 20, 2014:

ChitrangadaSharan, Thank you for your visit to my hub and your very nice comment. It makes me so happy that others love to come across butterflies in gardens or parks like I do. Have a wonderful day, and thank you again.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on April 12, 2014:

Beautiful hub and awesome pictures of these colorful and attractive butterflies.

I love watching them, whenever I come across them in gardens or parks. Thanks for providing so much information about these gorgeous creatures.

Simply wonderful hub, Voted up!

Paula (author) from The Midwest, USA on March 28, 2014:

Hi Kevin, your question is a good one. I can only think the worst might sometimes happen in the scenario about the leaves being eaten. Its possible they could fall off below the plant, and that might allow some hope for hatching of the egg and the larvae to feed on the plant still somehow.

Another way of looking at it is this. The butterflies that I know of and have seen laying eggs do it a very particular way. Often, for instance, they will have many eggs to lay, but fly around to many of the plants in an area, and lay a few here or there, not many. Then fly to another part of the plant or a nearby one, and lay a couple more eggs. This is what I have read about anyway and then also seen. Their behavior is very different when they are doing this and not interested at all for instance in nectar, etc. This ensures the eggs are not all in one place, as if anticipating the very problem you present, which is awesome of nature to try to take care of some of the problems like this. If they laid them all at once in one place like many animals, then it would be a problem for sure. This way though, some can have a chance to make it. That is what I think anyway. Thanks for your visit again and pins!

Paula (author) from The Midwest, USA on March 28, 2014:

Hello Sinea, I think it would be so wonderful to see the "cloud of orange glory" that you describe from the monarchs! What a lucky thing to get to see. I can see why that made the news! Thank you for your visit to my hub, and for your votes, I really appreciate it.

The Examiner-1 on March 28, 2014:

I loved it! I have seen a couple, or a few, but not all. Such as the Monarch and the Painted Lady. I have a question: If they plant their eggs underneath leaves and insects, or animals, which eat leaves - not eggs - eat the leaves which the eggs are on then what happens to the eggs?

I voted it up, shared it and Pinned it.

Kevin

Sinea Pies from Northeastern United States on March 28, 2014:

I love butterflies. We live in a region where Monarchs are prevalent. In October, as they migrate to South America they stop in my city for about a day. One year they collected downtown in a cloud of orange glory. It even made the news! Voted up and beautiful. :)