With about 6000 species worldwide, the morphological diversity within the brushfoots is immense. There have been decades of debates about how to classify the group and what traits are important and useful. For our purposes, the uniting characteristic of the brushfoots is the reduction of the front pair of legs into small, brush-like appendages that serve no real function, rather like the human appendix or tailbone. As a result, while they still have 3 pairs of legs (an insect characteristic), only two of those leg pairs are actually functional. Brushfoots are some of our largest and recognizable butterflies, including the monarch (Danaus plexippus), painted lady (Vanessa cardui), California tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica), and mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa).

Adelpha bredowii californica

A common species of oak woodlands. Glides back and forth along streambeds and roads; males perch on branches and foliage, frequently in oak. Both sexes visit mud puddles. (This is unusual; in most butterflies only males "puddle.") The female is larger than the male, with broader wings and a less pointed forewing apex. There is no variation in color and pattern. This butterfly has been shown to be mildly distasteful to birds and to be mimicked by the more edible Lorquin's Admiral in California. The genus Adelpha is of New World Tropical origin.

Agraulis vanillae

This dazzling bit of the New World Tropics was introduced into southern California in the 19th Century --we don't know how-- and was first recorded in the Bay Area before 1908, though it seems to have become established there only in the 1950s. It can be quite common in the East and South Bay --particularly in Berkeley-- and has been found breeding spontaneously as far inland as Fairfield where, however, it is not established.

Boloria epithore

Common at Donner and Castle Peak; irregular and perhaps not resident at Lang. A species of cool, moist forest and forest edges (not meadows, despite the common name); often seen along wood roads and trails, often through Lodgepole Pine. A puddler and frequent flower visitor, including white-flowered Ceanothus among its favorites. One brood, June-August. Host plants violets (genus Viola; preferences undetermined). This is the only small Fritillary in California; there are numerous others in the Arctic and Subarctic and in the Rocky Mountains.

Cercyonis oetus

A species of the Great Basin, East slope and alpine zone of the Sierra Nevada. On our transect resident on Basin and Castle Peaks above tree-line on volcanic substrates, and in sagebrush-bitterbrush shrub-steppe along the east edge of Sierra Valley. Flies jerkily over the top of the vegetation, but lands frequently. Not a frequent flower visitor, but comes to Mule's Ears and Sulphur Flower, and late in the season to Rabbitbrush.

Cercyonis pegala boopis

Our representative of a transcontinental, polytypic species, the Ox-Eyed Satyr is local and usually uncommon in our region. On the transect it occurs at Gates Canyon, where it seemingly colonized only quite recently, and at Sierra Valley and is unrecorded elsewhere. It generally occurs along or near streams in grassland or foothill woodland. Although it occasionally visits flowers-especially Canada Thistle at Sierra Valley-, it is usually seen flying with an odd, jerky motion among tall grasses; if disturbed it often seeks shelter inside brambles or other thickets.

Cercyonis sthenele silvestris

The currently-favored common name is misleading insofar as this species occurs widely in California west of the Great Basin. Like the other species of Cercyonis it is single-brooded, and the adults rather long-lived. On the transect it is abundant in grassland, shrub-steppe and alfalfa fields at Sierra Valley and occurs at lower density in brushy, rocky areas at Washington and Lang Crossing on the West slope. Adults fly low, near the ground, moving jerkily through the vegetation. They often sit on rocks or in paths but this is not territorial perching.

Chlosyne hoffmanni

This is one of the very few butterflies adapted to climax Red Fir forest. It can be abundant at Donner and Castle Peak (below tree-line only), where males pack onto mud puddles along trails early in the season. Adults visit Aster, Pink Pussy-Paws, Coyotemint, etc. and remain in the sun, although surrounded by the fir canopy. There is considerable minor pattern variation.

Chlosyne lacinia

A common species of the Southwest deserts which somehow became briefly established in North Sacramento in the early 1970s (a couple of records also in West Sacramento, across the river) but died out quickly; it is not properly part of our fauna. It is extremely variable phenotypically. Multiple broods; host plants Sunflowers (Helianthus), including H. annuus in our area.

Chlosyne palla

Common in the foothills and to 7000', but only a rare stray in the Central Valley. Males are territorial perchers, often in paths or on rocks. Where Euphydryas chalcedona (q.v.) is strongly blackish, the females of the Northern Checkerspot are trimorphic - orange and male-like, black with yellow spots (an apparent mimic of E. chalcedona), and intermediate. Where E. chalcedona is mostly red, only the male-like female morph occurs (true also at Donner, where there are no chalcedona).

Coenonympha tullia ampelos

Locally abundant in grassland on the Sierran East slope only--Carson Valley, Sierra Valley, Honey Lake area, etc. The late 19th-Century collector C. F. MacGlashan did not record it around Truckee, but in the 1970s-80s it was abundant along Cold Stream and on benches along the Truckee River. It went extinct around Truckee in the late 1990s for no obvious reason. During the lifetime of this project it has briefly colonized Castle Valley (below Castle Peak) and gone extinct again; it strays erratically to Donner Pass but has not been known to breed there.