Butterflies of Mexico, USA & Canada
Southern Dog Face
Zerene cesonia  BOISDUVAL, 1852
subfamily - COLIADINAE
Tribe -
Zerene cesonia cesonia  Miller Canyon, Chiricahua mountains, Arizona, USA  Frank Model
There are only 2 Zerene species, both of which were formerly placed in the closely related genus Colias. The apex of the forewings is more falcate in Zerene, but their most obvious characteristic is the 'poodle face' marking on the forewings, from which the popular English name is derived.
Zerene cesonia is a wide ranging butterfly, occuring as 8 subspecies distributed variously from the southern states of the USA ( and straying north ), to Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.
This species can be found in many habitats including sagebrush, chaparral, dunes, grassy hillsides, forest clearings, meadows and fields, and suburban parks and gardens at elevations between sea level and about 1500m.
The egg is yellowish-green at first but turns crimson as the larva develops within. It is laid singly on the undersides of leaves of Dalea, Medicago, Amorpha, Trifolium, Petalostemon, Coursetia, Glycine and other Fabaceae. The fully grown larva occurs in 2 forms. One is bluish-green with a pale yellow lateral stripe. The other is darker green with a yellow lateral stripe that is interrupted by a series of red dashes; and has conspicuous yellow and black rings around the front edge of each segment. The pupa is pale green or yellowish green, and is attached by the cremaster and a silk girdle to a stem or twig, either on or near the foodplant.
Adult behaviour
Males are attracted by pheromones exuded from the pupae of females, and sit next to them waiting for the females to emerge. If they are unable to locate a pupa they patrol back and forth across the habitat until they intercept a female. When a male locates a receptive female he chases her a short distance until she settles. He then rubs his wings against the female, transferring pheromones from his wings onto her antennae to entice her to copulate.
Both sexes nectar at a wide range of flowers including Lantana, Eupatorium and Aster. Males imbibe mineralised moisture from damp patches of ground and are strongly attracted to cattle urine.


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