California tortoiseshell

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California tortoiseshell
Nymphalis californica 1145.JPG
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Genus: Nymphalis
N. californica
Binomial name
Nymphalis californica
(Boisduval, 1852)
On Sorbus sitchensis. The underside of the wing resembles a dead leaf.

The California tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica) is a butterfly of the family Nymphalidae.

The California tortoiseshell is known for having population explosions which cause the butterflies to migrate to new areas. The cause of these population explosions is unknown. Their larvae eat various species of Ceanothus.

It is recognized for the top of its wings being orange with big black spots (used mainly for camouflage). The browns and grays of the wing underside make it resemble a dead leaf when the wings are closed. Its wingspan varies from 3.2 to 7 cm (​1 14–​2 34 inches).[1]


Ravens usually prey on a diverse variety of animals including California tortoiseshell butterflies. Ravens are most common to prey on California tortoiseshells in population explosions during outbreak years. [2]


  1. ^ California Tortoiseshell Nymphalis californica (Boisduval, 1852)
  2. ^ Hendricks, Paul (2005). "Common Ravens Capturing Adult California Tortoiseshell Butterflies". Northwestern Naturalist. 86 (2): 81–82.

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