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Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)


Clouded Sulphur

The Clouded Sulphur is a species of small to medium-sized butterflies that are spread across much of North America. Theyare mostly seen on sunny days usually flying within a meter above the ground. Thecreature is abundantly spread across its habitat and has been marked by theIUCN 2.3 as ‘LC’ (Least Concern).

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Pieridae
  • Genus: Colias
  • Common names: Common Sulphur
  • Scientific Name: Colias philodice

Description and Identification


Clouded Sulphur Caterpillar

The larvae are green with a white stripe on each side of the body, which might also have lines or bars in orange or pink. The young larvae are cannibalistic. Given a chance, they will eat one another.


Clouded Sulphur Pupa

The chrysalis is also green, primarily for camouflage purposes, and hangs with the help of a silken girdle in an upright position. Prior to coming out, it turns yellow with a pink ‘zipper’.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Not clearly present

Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the dorsal side of both the pair of wings in the male display a pale yellow coloration bordered in solid black along the edges, while in the females, the borders have yellow dots. In the forewings, the lower sides bear a few dark submarginal spots; the hindwings are designed with silver cell spot rimmed in orange-pink color and are generally doubled. When the wings are closed, the male’s dorsal side is yellow, while the females can be either yellow or greenish white.

Clouded Sulphur Butterfly
Colias philodice

Average wingspan: 1½ to 2¾ inches (3.8 to 7 cm)

Flight pattern: Fairly rapid and sometimes erratic


Clouded Sulphur Eggs
source: c1.staticflickr.com

Pale yellow; laidsingly on the host plants; turns red after a few days, and finally gray just beforehatching

Quick Facts

Distribution South of Alaska through southeast and central parts of Canada, all of United States except most parts of California, south Texas, and most of Florida
Habitat Sunny open lands including meadows, fields (especially, alfalfa and clover fields), lawns, and road edges
Lifespan of adults 2 to 7 days, though some specimens have been seen living up to 24
Host plants Species belonging to the pea family (Fabaceae) including white clover (Trifolium repens), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), and pea (Pisum sativum)
Adult diet Flower nectar, muddy water

Did You Know?

• Sometimes, a white form (in place of yellow) is exhibited by the females, which is known as ‘Alba’. White form in the males is also known, but it is extremely rare.
• They are known for their mud-puddling behavior, gathering in small to large groups in wet places, sipping water from the mud.

Male Clouded Sulphur
Female Clouded Sulphur
Clouded Sulphur Host Plant

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