Butterflies and Moths of Southern Vancouver Island--Jeremy B. Tatum



Nymphalis californica

California Tortoiseshell


In our area the California Tortoiseshell is known only as an occasional migrant that sometimes appears in April. Although it breeds occasionally in the interior of British Columbia, it was not known until recently ever to have bred successfully on Vancouver Island or indeed on the west coast of the Province. It does not by any means appear here every year. The massive, widespread invasion in April 2004 was the first I had seen of this species for many years. As usual when it appears, the butterflies had disappeared by the end of May, but in June a lady came to me with four caterpillars she had found on a Ceanothus thyrsiflorus shrub in her garden. I duly photographed them and the subsequent chrysalides, but unfortunately all four had tachinid maggots in them. In the following year, 2005, I was brought a chrysalis by a lady who had found it in her garden. This was free of parasitoids, and I managed to photograph the adult when it emerged, to document the first confirmed successful breeding of the species on Vancouver Island.

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