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Southern dogface is the butterfly of the month

FALLBROOK – Wings of Change is dedicated to educating people about butterflies and their significance in the world. The nonprofit organization also uses plants to create an ecological landscape to restore natural cycles.

Its butterfly of the month for December is the southern dogface butterfly (Zerene cesonia), a beautiful species of butterfly found in the southern regions of the United States, mainly in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. It is known for its striking yellow and black wing pattern, which resembles a dog's face. It is also the state butterfly for California, although rarely seen in the state.

The southern dogface belongs to the Pieridae family, which includes other butterfly species such as the cabbage white and the clouded yellow. It is commonly found in open fields, meadows, and along roadsides, where it feeds on nectar from a variety of flowers.

During mating season, male southern dogface butterflies are known to perform an elaborate courtship dance to attract females. After mating, females lay their eggs on plants in the legume family, such as clover, alfalfa, and false indigo.

Unfortunately, like many other butterfly species, the southern dogface butterfly is facing threats from habitat loss and pesticide use. Conservation efforts are underway to protect and preserve this stunning butterfly and its natural habitat.

Additionally, the southern dogface butterfly (Zerene cesonia) plays an important role in the ecosystem as a pollinator. Pollinators are crucial for the reproduction of many plants, which in turn provide food and habitat for a variety of other species. Without pollinators like the southern dogface butterfly, many plant species would struggle to survive.

Wild indigo and false indigo are two plants that are often confused for each other due to their similar names and appearance. However, they are two distinct species with some notable differences.

Wild indigo (Baptisia tinctoria) is a perennial herbaceous plant that is native to North America. It grows up to 3 feet tall and is commonly found in fields, meadows, and along roadsides. The plant has bright yellow flowers that bloom in early summer and its roots are used in herbal medicine to treat various ailments.

False indigo (Amorpha fruticosa), on the other hand, is a shrub that can grow up to 10 feet tall. It is also native to North America and is commonly found in wetlands, swamps, and along riverbanks. False indigo has purple-blue flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer and its leaves are often used in traditional Native American medicine.

While both plants have some medicinal uses, they also have ornamental value in gardens and landscapes. Wild indigo is often used as a border plant or in meadow gardens, while false indigo is popular for its attractive foliage and showy flowers. Regardless of their differences, wild and false indigo are important native plants that play a crucial role in supporting local biodiversity and sustaining ecosystems.

Conservation efforts for the southern dogface butterfly include creating and maintaining butterfly gardens, reducing pesticide use, and preserving natural habitats. By taking these steps, gardeners can help ensure that future generations enjoy the beauty and importance of this amazing butterfly species.

The primary host plants for the southern dogface butterfly are the legumes, specifically the wild indigo and the false indigo plants. These plants provide the necessary nutrients and environment for the southern dogface butterfly to lay their eggs and for the caterpillars to feed and grow.

Other host plants for this species include clovers and vetches, which many may consider weeds. It is important to protect and conserve these host plants to ensure the survival of the southern dogface butterfly and other butterfly species that rely on them.

Clover plants are versatile and commonly used in many different settings. They are often grown as a source of forage for livestock, due to their high protein content, and can also be used as a cover crop to improve soil health and prevent erosion.

Clover plants come in many different varieties, including red clover, white clover, and crimson clover, each with unique characteristics and benefits. Additionally, clover is a popular plant for home gardens, as it is easy to grow and adds a pop of color to any landscape. Overall, clover plants are a valuable addition to any agricultural or landscaping project.

By promoting the growth of host plants, including wild indigo, false indigo, vetch, and clover plants, Wings of Change creates an environment for these beautiful creatures to thrive. Its mission is to preserve the natural habitats of butterflies. Its motto is "Together we learn. grow. change. We are Wings of Change."

To learn more about becoming a member and supporting this mission, visit

Submitted by Wings of Change.


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