Rancho Santa Margarita, Orange County, CA. © Peter J. Bryant.

California Sister

Adelpha californica

Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae

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Santa Rosa Plateau, Riverside County, CA. 05/01/05. © Peter J. Bryant.

Thomas E. Riley Wilderness Park, Coto de Caza, Orange County, CA. 4-25-10. © Ron Hemberger

Thomas E. Riley Wilderness Park, Coto de Caza, Orange County, CA. 4-25-10. © Ron Hemberger

Thomas E. Riley Wilderness Park, Coto de Caza, Orange County, CA. 4-25-10. © Ron Hemberger

Characteristics: Dorsal wings black-brown with a vertical row of white patches. Dorsal forewing with large orange-red rounded patch in apical area. Ventral hindwing marked with light blue streaks. Forewing length: 34-38 mm.

Similar Species: See species account for Lorquin's Admiral (Limenitis lorquini) for distinguishing characteristics to separate the two species.

Habitats, Behavior: The adults rarely visit flowers. Instead they are often seen gliding among the higher branches of oak trees. California Sisters are captured more easily in the morning. In Silverado Canyon, they fly quite close to the stream and often at midmorning are found clustered on the moist streamside sand (taking in water and/ or nutrients.)

Distribution: The California Sister usually flies wherever the larval foodplants grow. Thus it ranges through much of the Santa Ana Mountain region. A few records exist for the foothills (Villa Park Dam, Fullerton, Irvine Park), although it may have been more common at these lower elevations during early years than today. The butterfly is also said to occur at the Firestone Scout Reservation in Tonner Canyon (near Brea).

Flight Period: Two broods, adults flying from April to June and probably again from August to September.

Larval Foodplant: Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia and Canyon Oak, Quercus chrysolepis

From Orsak, L. J. (1977). The Butterflies of Orange County, California. Center for Pathobiology Miscellaneous Publication #3. University of California Press, New York. 349pp.

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