Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

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Santa Barbara Field Guides - Butterflies

Gulf Fritillary
Bramble Hairstreak
California Dogface
Mournful Duskywing
Square-spotted Blue
Lorquin's Admiral
Western Tiger Swallowtail
Great Purple Hairstreak

This guide pictures and describes all of the butterflies thought to occur in Santa Barbara County. The list of species is based on a combination of field sightings, the collections of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, and other worker's records (especially the USGS "Butterflies of North America" site, maintained by Paul Opler.) It is likely that not all of the species described here actually maintain breeding populations in the County. Some are included as possible strays from other areas, while others are known from neighboring counties, and may have been living undetected in some of the county's remoter regions. The individual species pages attempt to clarify each species' status in this regard.

In addition to multiple photos of each species, each species page includes:
  • descriptions of the identifying features of the species (Recognition)
  • what time of year adults of the species are active (Flight period)
  • preferred habitats (Habitat)
  • overall geographic range of the species (Distribution)
We have followed NABA (North American Butterfly Association) standard nomenclature for both common and scientific names.

This project was conceived by Curator of Entomology Michael Caterino. We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of Hearst Intern Justine Kimball and volunteer Chelsea N. O'Connell. We also thank UC Berkeley's Essig Museum of Entomology for loan of a few specimens to photograph.

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Or start your life list by downloading the
species checklist (pdf)

Sources and additional references:

Brock, J.P. and Kaufman, K., 2003. Butterflies of North America (A Kaufman Focus Guide). Houghton Mifflin.
Opler, P.A., 1999. Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides). Houghton-Mifflin.
Opler, P.A., et al. (undated) Butterflies of North America (USGS web site).
Emmel, T.C. and Emmel, J. F. 1973. Butterflies of Southern California. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
Scott, J.A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press.

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