Yellow Butterfly – Clouded Sulfur

2012 October 17

Sam caught this pretty butterfly with her insect net on May 18, 2012 as the beginning of a significant butterfly-catching spree.

Like so many other butterflies, its resting position is sitting with the wings closed, so we can’t see the top sides of the wings. But, the bottom sides are pretty distinctive (and quite pretty) too. This is certainly one of the Sulfurs (genus Colias, and after careful comparison of the exact shapes of the spots I believe it is a male Clouded Sulfur, Colias philodice.

The eyese are quite attractive, too, almost an emerald green with a subtle mottled pattern.

The caterpillars eat clover, alfalfa, and other legumes, which are very common plants. These butterflies are therefore very common too, although they don’t ever seem to get numerous enough to be serious crop pests. Besides, these food plants are normally raised to make hay, and if you bale up some caterpillars along with the hay, the cows don’t particularly care – they’ll eat it anyway.

If it had opened the wings, we would have seen that the wings have a dark strip running around the edges. If you look closely, you can just see that dark strip through the wing in this next picture.

Overall, I’m OK with not getting pictures of it with the wings open, because I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one at rest with open wings. They either have them closed, or are flying and fluttering so that you can’t see details of the top surface anyway. So for ID purposes, the wing underside pictures are more useful.

2 Responses
  1. JRR permalink
    October 17, 2012

    Cute context on the last photo.

  2. October 17, 2012

    While I would have liked to claim credit for planning to have a “sulfur” butterfly standing on the word “sulfate”, it really was accidental. I bring home a lot of scrap paper from work for the girls to draw on, and most of it is drafts of technical papers I’m working on. And, well, sulfate really *is* a common ion in the systems I work with . . .

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