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by Valerie

September, 2012

Southern Dogface

southern dogface

There are a number of bright yellow butterflies in our area; they are all called "sulphurs" and are in the family Pieridae. This is the southern dogface (Zerene cesonia), which is one of the medium-sized species. It is present throughout much of the year, but during the autumn, the yellow wings are marked, often strongly, with pink. The photo above is a female, evident by the very tiny white dot in the middle of the hind wing (males have a pair of larger brown-edged spots at that location) and the rather blurry look to the black markings on the edge of the upper wing, which show through from the underside. The species gets its odd name from those black markings, which some people imagine to look like a cartoon dog's profile, with the black circular spot providing the "eye." The male's black markings are more clearly defined so it is easier to visualize the canid face. The caterpillars of the southern dogface feed on legumes, especially dalea and false indigo, where their banded camouflage matches the small evenly spaced leaves very well.

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