This site provides an overview of the butterflies that can be found in the city of San Francisco, as well as nearby San Bruno Mountain. To see a species, click on one of the links (anything underlined) in the list of species on the left side of the page. I've tried to organize it by habitat type - what you can see in your backyard, what takes a trip to a park, and what is just plain rare in San Francisco.
All photos here were taken by myself, though not all of the photos were taken in San Francisco. The photo of Monarchs, that most mobile of all butterflies, was taken in New Zealand! It's not a complete list of all historical possibilities within the city, but a representation of what can be expected here as of 2006. For example, there are no photos of "Bay Area" Edith's Checkerspot, extinct in San Francisco and now only holding on in Santa Clara County, nor of the Xerces Blue, once found only in San Francisco and globally extinct since at least 1943.
Thanks go to Liam O'Brien for checking on the accuracy of the information herein. All errors, though, are entirely my own fault. Please let me know if you have any new information or corrections, or sightings of one the rare species, by .
Broadly speaking, by slowly stalking the butterflies with a Sony F717 camera and a Hoya +5 diopter. All the photos are of entirely wild and entirely unrestrained, un-netted individuals. It took awhile. For more information, see my page on butterfly photography.