The Golden State’s Golden Insect

Dog face butterflyPay rapt attention, for the California Dog-face Butterfly is a very fast flier that only opens its wings for a moment as it moves between flowers. The held-breath-lying-in-wait is worth it, though, for a fleeting glimpse of the wary male’s spectacular, pointed forewing.  With a lot of imagination, one can discern a yellow-gold pattern in the shape of a dog’s face against a black background. The somewhat larger female is solid golden yellow, with one black dot on each forewing.  So how do you attract one into your yard? The larva is limited to feeding on only one plant species, the false indigo bush Amorpha califonica. Adults like Butterfly Mints, sages, Woolly Blue Curtis, and the red-flowering California fuchsia.  Also known as the dog-head butterfly and the flying pansy, the dog-face butterfly is found only in California, the first state to designate an official insect in 1929. Now nearly all states have one, ranging from monarch butterflies to honeybees to the friendly ladybug.