Common Butterflies Found in Coastal Southern California
Monarch Butterflies on Gayfeather Blazing Star FlowersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Cabbage White Butterfly - Pieris brassicaeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Gulf Fritillary Or Passion Butterfly - Agraulis vanillae
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.
Checkered White Butterfly - Pontia ProtodiceClick thumbnail to view full-size
Orange Sulphur 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
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
Painted Lady Butterfly - vanessa virginiensis
Butterfly - Poll
Do you enjoy seeing a butterfly fly into your yard on occasion?
West Coast Lady Butterfly - Vanessa AnnabellaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Gray Hairstreak Butterfly - strymon melinusClick thumbnail to view full-size
© 2014 Paula