1 5/8-2 1/2" (41-64 mm). Male saffron-orange above with curved and pointed FW tips and thick black FW margin indented in poodle-head pattern. (Some populations also have black HW margin.) Male may have brilliant plum-red or violet-purple sheen to dog-face. Female pale yellow with pointed wing tips; barely suggesting or lacking dark FW margin. Below, deep yellow or greenish with black FW cell ring, silvery spots in HW cell.
Dogface lacks orange coloring and purple on male FW above; female more heavily marked with black. Mexican Yellow is smaller, paler, with less pointed FW and more pointed HW.
Egg yellow-green. Caterpillar, to 1" (25 mm), dull green bearing either white, orange-edged side lines or thin, light crossbands. Chrysalis light green. Host plants
include false indigo (Amorpha californica), clovers (Trifolium), and some members of the pea family (Dalea).
2 broods; spring-autumn, midsummer at higher elevations.
Mountains and foothills, open oak slopes, and Douglas-fir clearings; usually absent from deserts.
California coast ranges and lower W. Sierra Nevada from Lake and Napa counties in north to Baja California; occasionally in W. Arizona.
California's spectacular state insect appeared on a U.S. postage stamp in 1976. It flies together with the Dogface Butterfly in the San Bernardino Mountains where the 2 species may hybridize. Also called Colias eurydice.