San Francisco Bay Wildlife
Wildlife of the San Francisco Bay Area


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Butterflies of San Franscisco Bay Area

Propertius Duskywing
Propertius Duskywing - Erynnis propertius (Morgan Territory)
Mournful Duskywing
Mournful Duskywing - Erynnis tristis (Mount Diablo)
Robert (Mathesont) / Flickr, Creative Commons
Common Checkered-Skipper
Common Checkered-Skipper - Pyrgus communis (Pleasanton)
Umber Skipper
Umber Skipper - Poanes melane (Pleasanton)
Pipevine Swallowtail
Pipevine Swallowtail - Battus philenor (Shiloh Ranch Regional Park)
David A. Hofmann / Flickr, Creative Commons
Fiery Skipper
Fiery Skipper - Hylephila phyleus (Pleasanton)
Western Tiger Swallowtail
Western Tiger Swallowtail - Papilio rutulus (Mt. Diablo State Park)
Anise Swallowtail
Anise Swallowtail - Papilio zelicaon (Las Trampas Wildnerness)
Sara Orangetip
Sara Orangetip - Anthocharius sara (Sunol Regional Park)
Cabbage White
Cabbage White - Pieris rapae (Mount Diablo)
Orange Sulphur
Orange Sulphur - Colias eurytheme (Morgan Territory)
Gray Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak - Strymon melinus (Mount Diablo)
Western Pygmy Blue
Western Pygmy-Blue - Brephidium exilis (Don Edwards NWR, Alviso)
Echo Azure
Echo Azure - Celastrina echo (Long Ridge Open Space)
Acmon Blue
Acmon Blue - Plebejus acmon (Pleasanton)
Monarch Butterfly
Monarch - Danaus plexippus (Martinez)
Robert (Mathesont) / Flickr, Creative Commons
Gulf Fritillary
Gulf Fritillary - Agraulis vanillae (Rush Creek OSP, Marin)
(c) Ken Wilson
Callippe Fritillary
Callippe Fritillary - Speyeria callippe (Mount Diablo)
Lorquin's Admiral
Lorquin's Admiral - Limenitis lorquini (Sunol Regional Wilderness)
California Sister
California Sister - Adelphia californica (Morgan Territory)
Northern Checkerspot
Northern Checkerspot - Chlosyne palla (Mount Diablo)
Robert (Mathesont) / Flickr, Creative Commons
Mylitta Crescent
Mylitta Crescent - Phyciodes mylitta (Sunol Regional Park)
(c) Ken Wilson
Field Crescent
Field Crescent - Phyciodes pulchella (Tilden, Berkeley)
(c) Ken Wilson
Variable Checkerspot
Variable Checkerspot - Euphydryas chalcedona (Mt. Diablo State Park)
Common Buckeye
Common Buckeye - Junonia coenia (Sunol Regional Wilderness)
Mourning Cloak
Mourning Cloak - Nymphalis antiopa (Mount Diablo)
(c) Ken Wilson
Painted Lady
Painted Lady - Vanessa cardui (Brushy Peak)
West Coast Lady
West Coast Lady - Vanessa annabella (Garin Regional Park)
(c) Ken Wilson
Mourning Cloak
Red Admiral - Vanessa atalanta (Don Edwards NWR)
(c) Ken Wilson
Common Ringlet
Common Ringlet - Coenonympha tullia (Sunol Regional Wilderness)

The San Francisco Bay Area is home to around 144 species of butterflies. You can find them in all types of habitats including urban areas. The Bay Area has the highest density of endangered butterfly species in the nation. The Western Pygmy Blue is the smallest butterfly in the United States. The Monarch over-winters in large numbers at several Bay Area locations. The Gulf Fritillary is a non-native species that has successfully colonized parts of the East and South Bay.

Butterflies of the Bay Area

Some Common Butterfly Species:

  • Propertius Duskywing - Erynnis propertius
  • Mournful Duskywing - Erynnis tristis
  • Common Checkered-Skipper - Pyrgus communis
  • Fiery Skipper - Hylephila phyleus
  • Umber Skipper - Poanes melane
  • Pipevine Swallowtail - Battus philenor
  • Anise Swallowtail - Papilio zelicaon
  • Western Tiger Swallowtail - Papilio rutulus
  • Sara Orangetip - Anthocharius sara
  • Cabbage White - Pieris rapae
  • Orange Sulphur - Colias eurytheme
  • Gray Hairstreak - Strymon melinus
  • Western Pygmy-Blue - Brephidium exilis
  • Echo Azure - Celastrina echo
  • Acmon Blue - Plebejus acmon
  • Monarch - Danaus plexippus
  • Gulf Fritillary - Agraulis vanillae
  • Callippe Fritillary - Speyeria callippe
  • Lorquin's Admiral - Limenitis lorquini
  • California Sister - Adelphia californica
  • Northern Checkerspot - Chlosyne palla
  • Mylitta Crescent - Phyciodes mylitta
  • Field Crescent - Phyciodes pulchella
  • Variable Checkerspot - Euphydryas chalcedona
  • Common Buckeye - Junonia coenia
  • Mourning Cloak - Nymphalis antiopa
  • California Tortoiseshell - Nymphalis californica
  • Satyr Comma (Anglewing) - Polygonia satyrus
  • Red Admiral - Vanessa atalanta
  • Painted Lady - Vanessa cardui
  • West Coast Lady - Vanessa annabella
  • American Lady - Vanessa virginiensis
  • Common Ringlet - Coenonympha tullia

Less Common Butterfly Species:

  • Woodland Skipper - Ochlodes sylvanoides
  • Farmer - Ochlodes agricola
  • Pale Swallowtail - Papilio eurymedon
  • Two-tailed Swallowtail - Papilio multicaudata
  • Large Marble - Euchloe ausonides
  • Margined White - Pieris marginalis
  • Grey-veined White - Pieris napi
  • Checkered White - Pontia protodice
  • Tailed Copper - Lyceana arota
  • Great Copper - Lyceana xanthoides
  • Gorgon Copper - Lyceana gorgon
  • Purplish Copper - Lyceana helloides
  • Golden Hairstreak - Habrodais grunus
  • Dryope Hairstreak - Satyrium sylvinus dryope
  • Hedgerow Hairstreak - Satyrium saepium
  • Western Green Hairstreak - Callophrys affinis
  • Bramble Hairstreak - Callophrys dumetorum
  • Perplexing Hairstreak - Callophrys perplexa
  • Western Pine Elfin - Callophrys eryphon
  • Brown Elfin - Callophrys augustinus
  • Eastern Tailed-Blue - Everes comyntas
  • Western Tailed-Blue - Everes amyntula
  • Silvery Blue - Glaucopsyche lygdamus
  • Boisduval's Blue - Plebejus icarioides
  • Mormon Metalmark - Apodemia mormo
  • Coronis Fritillary - Speyeria coronis
  • Unsilvered Fritillary - Speyeria adiaste
  • Leanira Checkerspot - Chlosyne leanira
  • Oreas Comma - Polygonia oreas
  • Common Wood-nymph - Cercyonis pagala
  • Great Basin Wood-nymph - Cercyonis sthenele


The following links lead to comprehensive checklists generated on the Butterflies and Moths of North America website (BAMONA). These lists include links to detailed pages for each species, including photographs and sightings. Some more informal lists:
  • Common Butterflies of the East Bay Regional Parks - a PDF brochure with photographs. 
  • Butterflies of San Francisco by Liam O'Brien, illustrator, lepidopterist & conservationist - an extensive site with notes based on years of study. 
  • Butterflies of San Francisco, a list, with good photos, by Adam Winer, as of 2006. 
  • Butterflies of Point Reyes National Seashore 
  • Butterflies of the S.F. Peninsula, a list, with good photos, by Adam Winer, as of 2003. 
  • Butterflies of Rancho San Antonio  ...more 
  • Watching Butterflies on Mount Diablo by: Kevin Hintsa, Mountain News, 1993. 
  • Butterflies around Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay Area - photos and notes 
  • Butterflies of Suisun Marsh, by Prof. Art Shapiro of UC Davis. 
  • Butterflies of Hastings Biological Field Station of the University of California, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and UC Natural Reserve System. 
  • Butterflies of the Baylands by Shelli Carol - photos and notes on 4 species 


  • A selection of useful reference books can be found here - Butterfly Books  ...more 
  • A nice laminated fold-out, with 22 common local species, is produced by Local Birds (despite its name :-)). It includes favorite larval food and nectar plants. They also have similar guides for Marin County and the Monterey Bay Area. 
  • Sharp, nice photographs of local butterflies posted by members of our Flickr group 
  • Podcast on the Mission Blue butterfly 
  • Mission Blue butterfly slideshow by San Francisco Bay Area National Parks Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center 

Butterflies and Moths Articles and Links

California Dogface - Zerene eurydice
  • Blog posts about local butterflies, including ones raised from caterpillars along with some wonderful photos by Lisa. 
  • Humorous description of raising Anise Swallowtails in Berkeley. 
  • The Green Hairstreak Project seeks to connect two disjunctive butterfly populations in San Francisco's Sunset District with street level plantings of host and nectar sources. 
  • The Mission Blues of Oakwood Valley, Park E-ventures, July 2012. From Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. 
  • Campaign to save the Lange's Metalmark Butterfly which is getting quite rare. 
  • Imperiled Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay Area. An article with photographs and descriptions of the Bay Checkerspot, Mission Blue, San Bruno Elfin, and Callippe, Myrtle's and Behren's Silverspot Butterflies. 
  • Efforts to restore a population of the Bay Checkerspot at Edgewood Natural Preserve. 4,000 butterflies were collected and moved from Coyote Ridge to their new home at Edgewood in February 2011. 
  • Berkeley Butterfly Blog by Caterpillarlady 

Butterfly Gardening

  • List of Butterflies and the plants they feed on - specific to the Bay area. The Native Here Nusery also sells these plants in Berkeley. 
  • Butterfly gardening notes for the Bay area, from the NABA. 
  • Some common California Butterflies and Moths and their food plants - photographs and details about native plants used by adults and larva. 


  • Butterflies of America - a great website with thousands of photos of different species, organized by family and species. 
  • The Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) project site with details about each species and maps showing sight reports. 
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