San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Field Guide

Zerene eurydice
California Dogface


Zerene from zeren meaning dried. Eurydice breaks down as eury meaning broad or wide, and dic meaning wood worm. A synonym that will be found in some references is Colias eurydice.


The California Dogface is named for the pattern on the forewings of the male: they are yellow with a black border outlining a profile shaped like a dog's face. A black spot on the wing forms the "eye" of the dog. The dog-head may be tinged with violet or pink iridescence. The adult female is all yellow except for a black spot in the forewing. In both sexes, the underside is yellow or green with a black circle instead of a spot.

The adult butterfly measures 1 5/8 inches (4.13 cm) to 2 1/2 inches (6.35 cm) across. The larva (caterpillar) is green with orange-edged white lines along the sides.

Range and Habitat

In California, this species ranges from San Diego County north to Sonoma County. Occasionally, it may be found in western Arizona. Its habitat includes mountains and foothills, open oak slopes, and Douglas Fir clearings. It is not present in the deserts.

Natural History

The primary larval food plant is false indigo (Amorpha californica). Adults sip nectar from flowers.

Did you know...

The California Dogface appeared on a U. S. postage stamp in 1976. It was designated as California's state insect in 1972.

Text by Shauna Wolf.

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