There are three main goals of NABA’s Butterfly Count Program. 1) Gather data that will monitor butterfly populations. 2) Give butterfliers a chance to socialize and have fun. 3) Raise public awareness by hosting events that will increase general interest in butterflies.

Variable Checkerspot Butterfly

  Butterfly counts are held annually across the United States, Canada and Mexico during the months of June and July

  June 8, 2013 Butterfly Count

23 Species Identified by Lee A. Shoemaker and Larry Shaw:

Location:  South Fork Santa Ana River near  South Fork Campground and along road to Seven Oaks Resort  area, San Bernardino Mtns., San Bernardino Co., California.

Conditions: Sunny, warm, very few wildflowers or shrubs in bloom,  very dry year, most of butterflies observed below where seen primarily  in shady riparian habitats near a running stream or other damp water source. 

Notes: Our field observations were performed very close to a running stream or moist riparian habitats and our list of species from this area is somewhat biased.  Much of the surrounding  chaparral slopes were not visited which probably would have yielded a few more species such as hairstreaks and blues.

Pale Swallowtail; Papilio eurymedon
Western Tiger Swallowtail; Papilio rutulus
Semiramis  Fritillary; Speyeria coronis semiramis
California Dogface; Zerene eurydice
Funereal Duskywing; Erynnis funeralis
Propertius Duskywing; Erynnis propertius
West Coast  Lady; Vanessa annabella
California Sister; Adelpha bredowii californica
Common Checkered Skipper; Pyrgus communis
Mylitta Crescent; Phyciodes mylitta
Augusta checkerspot; Euphydryas editha augusta
Boisduval’s Blue;  Plebejus icarioides
Satyr Comma; Polygonia satyrus
Mourning Cloak; Nymphalis antiopa
Silver-Spotted Skipper; Epargyreus clarus
Propertus  Duskywing; Erynnis propertius
Western Branded Skipper; Hesperia colorado
Sonoran Skipper; Polites sonora
Northern White Skipper; Heliopetes ericetorum
Western Tailed Blue; Cupido  amyntula
Brown Elfin; Callophrys augustinus
Nelson’s Hairstreak; Callophrys nelsoni
Unidentified Brown Duskywing? Possibly Pacuvius or Propertius Duskywing?

Western Tiger Swallowtail


May 25, 2013 Butterfly Count 

19 Species Identified by Lee A. Shoemaker and Larry Shaw

Location:  Blue Jay Campground and off N. Main Divide Rd. between  Blue Jay Campground and Hwy. 74., Orange Co., California.
Time of Day: 10am to 1pm

Acmon Blue;  Plebejus acmon
Lupine Blue; Plebejus lupinus
Echo Blue or Echo azure; Celastrina echo
Behr’s Metalmark; Apodemia virgulti
Hedgerow Hairstreak; Satyrium saepium
Pale Swallowtail; Papilio eurymedon
Comstock’s Frittilary; Speyeria callippe comstocki
Gabb’s Checkerspot; Chlosyne gabbii
Checkered White; Pontia protodice
California Dogface; Zerene eurydice
Orange Sulphur; Colias eurytheme
Rural Skipper;  Ochlodes agricola
Funereal Duskywing; Erynnis funeralis
Propertius Duskywing; Erynnis propertius
Painted  Lady; Vanessa cardui  larva on thistle
California Sister; Adelpha bredowii californica
Common Checkerspot Skipper; Pyrgus communis
Reakirt’s Blue; Echinargus isola
Square-Spotted or Bernardino Blue; Euphilotes battoides bernardino


  1. I live in Orange County near Mission Viejo and I am shocked at the low numbers of butterflies
    lately I was just wondering if any one else noticed. By this time last year I had many gulf fritillaries, swallowtails, monarchs, west coast ladies, mourning cloaks, and cabbage whites in my back yard and laying eggs, but I have not seen a butterfly in over a month and a half. we have all of the right host plants. Any ideas?

  2. Brendan

    Thanks for your note! Actually we have noticed a slow start to the butterfly season in the cooler areas. We live in San Clemente and it has just now started to warm up...and as you know, butterfly's need warm weather. We normally have a ton of Monarch's in our back yard and as of yet zero!

    I will bring your question to the floor at our meeting tomorrow night (May 22nd). You might want to consider attending a meeting because we have quite a few members who are very knowledgeable about our local bugs!

    Oh, on our field trips to the warmer inland areas we have seen butterflies but not as many as I expected. There is a concern nation wide as to the climate issues and its effect on the numbers of butterflies we are seeing around us!


  3. AnonymousMay 25, 2013

    Two questions: 1) photo on home page under "butterfly sightings" is one of the most common butterflies in our backyard (we see several every day); what is the name of it? 2) the recent AAA Westways magazine says there'll be a count on June 22 at 9 am at Riley Park, and another at 1 pm at O'Neill Park...is this true? nothing on your blog about these events...Thanks! Cheryl

    1. Hi Cheryl, the butterflies on our home page are the Grey or Common Hairstreak and our State Butterfly the California Dogface. The Cloudless Sulphur is often confused with the Dogface from a distance. The Dogface is rarely spotted in home gardens, where the cloudless sulphur is very common in home gardens. You will find more information about our field trips and NABA counts on our NEWSLETTERS page, I posted the Butterfly Count information below.

  4. June 22, 2013
    NABA Annual 4th of July Butterfly Count
    Leader: Larry Shaw
    Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park,
    Meet at 9:00 a.m., at Park Entrance Gate.
    30952 Oso
    Parkway, Trabuco Cyn., CA

    O’Neill Wilderness Park,
    Meet at 1:00 p.m. at the Park
    30892 Trabuco Canyon Rd.
    Trabuco Canyon CA 92678

    Everyone interested in butterflies is invited to join!
    Hope to see you there,

  5. HI! we live in south Orange County and we FINALLY got some giant swallowtails! Everything seemed good until one of them went in the pupa and about 2 weeks later started to turn a dark red and black on the abdomen. this is very strange. we are hoping that it will be ok, but please give us ideas as soon as possible!!

    1. Congratulations! It is typical for chrysalises to turn dark just before the butterfly emerges so no worries there. I do not know anything about the red you are seeing though. Just a note, most swallowtails overwinter as chrysalises, so if it does not emerge do not throw it away, sometimes it can take years before the butterfly will decide to show it's self.

  6. HI! that is what we were wondering, maybe it was just overwintering! We have heard that giant swallowtails overwinter lots of times! We just wanted to make sure it was not dead. Thank you!!!

  7. Here is sure way to check to see if your swallowtail is dead or alive inside the chrysalis. Gently bend the chrysalises from side to side and if it moves easily and goes back into position on it's own then most likely its ok. Watch the video on this page to see this done! ttp://www.butterflyfunfacts.com/swallowtail-chrysalis-alive-or-dead.php

    1. we also have a question about a tiger swallowtail. He has been changing, but he has been a caterpillar for 2 months! he has now reached full size, but is not turning brown (which is a sign of pupating) we were wondering if he is is in diapause what to do?

    2. I've had that experience with Pale Swallowtails and Pipevine Swallowtails where they seem healthy enough as caterpillars but never progress to become a chrysalises, living as caterpillars for months and finally end up dieing. I'm not sure why this happens, but maybe someone else can offer an explanation :)

  8. HI! we tried that and it did not move yet about one day ago its body was visible, which indicates that it was changing, but just today it turned black. I do not know it is very frustrating because it did not move, but is changing unlike most swallowtails have! We have had pipevine, polydamas, anise, tiger, and black swallowtails never do this!

  9. HI we found a tiger swallowail egg about 1 month and a half ago and the caterpillar hatched two days later.we noticed he was growing very slow and about a month in he was only in his 3 instar. he has been growing and is now at full size. we cant tell if he is overwintering or what, but we have had them before take only 3-4 weeks. he has been full size for about 1-2 weeks. any ideas?