Nymphalis californica

Beginner Rearing InstructionsCalifornia Tortoiseshell

Photo Life History: Nymphalis californica

Habitat:  Mountain Canyons; Mountain Hilltops

Host Plants:  Ceanothus velutinus; Ceanothus martinii

Suitable Lab Host Plants: Any Ceanothus spp.

How to Find Female Butterflies:  Click here

Caring for Live Female Butterflies:  Nectaring techniques

Methods of Female Oviposition:   

How to Find Eggs:

How to Hatch Eggs:  Consolidate eggs into one container.

How to Find Caterpillars in the Field: Look for Caterpillar Strip Patterns.  Caterpillars feed gregariously and can create very noticeable strip patterns on the host plant.  Looking for caterpillars from May through July is more often the most productive method of rearing this butterfly.

How to Find Pupae in the Field: 

Caterpillar setups:  Open terrariums; Open Bucket

Larva to Pupa:  Caterpillar silks to leaf or twig; creates and attaches cremaster; hanging as a J before pupating.

Number of Broods per Year:  1

Overwintering Stage:  Adult

Overwintering Strategies:

Post-Hibernation Strategies: 

Emergence:  Emergence Container

Avoiding Diapause Techniques:  

Disease Prevention:  Change out host plant and remove frass every four to five days in an open bucket or open terrarium setup. 

Emergence:  Emergence Container

Field Notes:  Large numbers of larvae can be found during years when adults are plentiful.  Sometimes females will lay clutches of eggs several weeks apart creating a situation where gregarious larvae will vary in size and instar.  Larvae can defoliate their host.