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SULPHURS: Phoebis, Colias, Eurema

There are many different kinds of Sulphur butterflies.  I'm going to 'lump' together all the Sulphurs in my garden.  This is by no means all the species that there are, just a very small list.

Wing span is 2 3/4 - 4 inches.  Upperside of male is bright yellow-orange; forwing has a red-orange bar and hind wing has a red-orange outer margin.  There are two forms of the female, one is off-white and the other is yellow-orange.  Female is much larger than the male.  Both have upperside of forwing with solid black cell spot and submarginal row of broken, angled black smudges.  Outer half of hindwing of yellow form is red-orange.
They are swift, high fliers.  Females lay single eggs on leaves and flowers of host plants (Cassia species in the pea family Fabaceae).  Caterpillars prefer to feed on the flowers.  Butterflies nectar from many different flowers.  They prefer open lowland sites like gardens, forest edges, parks, and road edges.
Range is from Brazil north to Florida.  Irregular wanderers are seen in south Texas; extremely rare vagrants are seen in Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Connecticut.
CLOUDED SULPHUR - Colias philodice
Wing span is 1 1/2 - 2 3/4 inches.  Upper surface of male wings are bright, clear yellow with solid black edging; lower side of forewing with some dark submarginal spots; hindwing with silver cell spot rimmed with orange-pink, usually doubled.  Female has two forms:  yellow form with uneven black edging enclosing yellow spots, and a white form which is greenish-white rather than yellow.  Spring and fall forms are smaller and less conspicuously marked.
          Eggs are laid singly on host plants (pea family Fabaceae, including alfalfa Medicago sativa, white clover Trifolium
, and pea Pisum sativum).  Butterfly nectars from many flowers.  They prefer open areas including fields,
          lawns, alfalfa and clover fields, road edges and meadows. 
Range is from Alaska south thru central and southeast Canada, all of the the US, except much of California, south Texas, and most of Florida.
ORANGE SULPHUR - Colias eurytheme
Wing span is 1 3/8 - 2 3/4 inches.  Variable identification.  Upperside of male is yellow with orange overlay, yellow veins wide black border, and dark black cell spot.  Female is yellow or white white irregular black border surrounding light spots.  Underside hindwing spot silver with two concentric dark rings, and a spot above it.
          Eggs are laid singly on top of host plant leaves (pea family Fabaceae, including alfalfa Medicago sativa, white clover
         Trifolium repens, and pea Pisum sativum).  Young caterpillars chew holes in the tops of leaves, then later feed
          from the leaf tip.  Older caterpillars eat half the leaf before moving to the other half.  Chrysalids overwinter. Butterflies
          nectar from many kinds of flowers including dandelion, milkweeds, goldenrods, and asters.  They prefer open sites,           especially clover and alfalfa fields, mowed fields, vacant lots, meadows, and road edges.
          Range is from Southern Canada to central Mexico, coast to coast in the US except for the Florida peninsula.  This is
          one of the most widespread and common butterflies in North America.
SOUTHERN DOGFACE - Zerene cesonia
Wing span is 2 1/8 - 3 inches.  Upperside forewings of both sexes have yellow "dog's head" surrounded by black.  "Eye" does not touch black border.  Female is similar, with duller, more diffuse black areas and two seasonal forms:  underside hindwing of wet season "summer" form is yellow; that of dry season "winter" form is mottled with black and pink.
Eggs are laid on the undersides of terminal leaves of host plants ( small-leaved plants in the pea family Fabacaea including alfalfa Medicago sativa, prairie clovers Pentalostemon, indigo Dalea, and clover Trifolium).   Butterflies nectar from flowers such as alfalfa, coreopsis, houstonia, and verbena.   They prefer dry, open areas like short-grass prairie hills, scrub oak groves, open woodland, washes, and road edges.
Range is from South America north to southern Texas and peninsular Florida.  Stray or temporary resident from central California northeast thru the Great Lakes area and all the eastern states.
CLOUDLESS SULPHUR - Phoebis sennaeSulpherChry.jpg (84031 bytes)
SulpherCat.jpg (59556 bytes) Wing span is 2 1/4 - 3 1/8 inches.   Upper surface of male is lemon yellow with no markings.  Female is yellow or white; outer edges of both wings with irregular black borders; upper forewing with dark spot in cell.  Lower surface of hindwing of both sexes with two pink-edged silver spots.
Eggs are laid singly on young leaves or flower buds of host plants (Cassia species in the pea family Fabaceae).  Caterpillars eat leaves and rest on the underside of leaf petioles.  Butterflies nectar from many different flowers with long tubes including cordia, bougainvilla, cardinal flower, hibiscus, lantana, and wild morning glory.  They prefer disturbed open areas including parks, yards, gardens, beaches, road edges, abandoned fields, and scrub.
Range is from Argentina north to southern Texas and the Deep South.
BARRED YELLOW - Eurema diara
Wing span 1 1/4 - 1 5/8 inchs.  Males and females differ; plus two seasonal forms.   Upperside of male forewing yellow with black bar along inner edge and a large balck area at apex.  Female varies from yellow to white; forewing with gray-black on apex and black patch on outer edge of hindwing.  Summer (wet season) form is smaller with more extensive black areas.  Underside hindwing of summer form is satiny white; that of winter form is brick red or tan with two small black spots in cell. 
Eggs are laid singly on the terminal growth of host plants (Pencil flower Stylosanthes biflora, joint vetches Aeschynomene species, and other plants in the pea Fabaceae family.  Butterflies nectar from a great variety of flowers including joint vetches and shepherd's needle Bidens pilosa.  They prefer tropical and subtropical dunes, pastures, and open pine woods.
Range is Argentina north to the US Deep South; stray into southern Arizona, South Dakota, South Texas, and Washington, D.C.
LITTLE YELLOW - Eurema lisa
Wing span is 1 1/4 - 1 3/4 inches.  Upperside of male forewing yellow with black apex.  Hindwing with black border.  Female yellow or white (rare) with black borders.  Both sexes with small black spot on forwing cell.
Eggs are laid singly on midveins or between leaflets of host plant leaves (Partridge pea Cassia fasciculata and wild sensitive plant C. nicitans, in the pea Fabaceae family).   Butterflies nectar from flowers in the aster family Asteraceae, including goldenrods and asters.  They prefer dry, open areas including roadsides, sandy fields, ababdoned fields, along railroad tracks, and occasionally open woods.
Range is Costa Rica north to South Texas and the Deep South
SLEEPY ORANGE -Eurema nicippeSulpherChryMany.jpg (88236 bytes)
Sulpher.jpg (80493 bytes)Wing span is 1 3/8 - 2 1/4 inches.   Upperside of wings orange in both sexes; orange-yellow form rare.  Forewing with small black cell spot.  Male with sharply defined black borders on outer and costal margins; female borders not so well-defined.  In winter form, underside of hindwing is brick red, brown, or tan; in summer form it's orange-yellow.
Eggs are laid singly under host plant leaves (Cassia species in the pea Fabaceae family).  Butterflies nectar on many species of flowers, including shepherd's needle Bidens pilosa.  They prefer low elevation areas including pine flats, fields, desert scrub, gardens, vacant lots, road edges, and washes.
Range is Central America north ot along the US-Mexico border.


Thank you to NPWRC, USGS, and Paul Opler, Ray Stanford, & Harry Pavulaan for their wonderful site.  Butterflies of North America is a much used butterfly database by many of my 'butterfly' friends around the country.  The research from this page came directly from their pages.  Visit their site to see which butterflies are in YOUR state.  If you click on checklist, you can see which butteflies are in your county.

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