Home / Whites and Sulphurs (Pieridae) / Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus)

Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus)


Clouded Yellow Butterfly

The clouded yellow is a pretty little butterfly species, mostly indigenous to different parts of Europe and Africa.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Pieridae
  • Genus: Colias
  • Scientific Name: Colias croceus


Description and Identification


Clouded Yellow Butterfly Caterpillar

When young, they have a yellowish-green body, while the head is black. As they grow, their body attains a dark green shade, whereas the lateral line has spots of red and white.


Clouded Yellow Butterfly Pupa

They are green, while the sides have a striped in yellow.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Color and Appearance: When the wings are opened the upper side is orange-yellow or golden having a broad margin, black in color. The center of the forewing also possesses a black spot. The underside of its forewing has a lighter tinge, mostly greenish in color, devoid of the black border. The dark spot in the upper side is also present in the underside, while the hind side of its forewings possesses a white spot at the center, while a smaller dot (dark or white) lies right above it. When the wings are closed they are lemon yellow with black spots at the end and a white spot in the center. Since this butterfly like most other species of the Colias family rest with their wings closed, the black margin present on the upper sides can hardly be seen.

Male Clouded Yellow Butterfly
Female Clouded Yellow Butterfly

In the females, the black margin on the upper side is also teamed with yellow spots, which is absent in the males. About 5% of the females of this species often have a pale cream coloration on the upper side instead of the golden shade, identified as form helice and often confused with the pale clouded yellow and Berger’s clouded yellow.

Average Wingspan: 46-54 mm (1.8-2.1 inches)

Flight Pattern: Fast


Clouded Yellow Butterfly Eggs

They are pale on being laid, but gradually within a short span, hatching after about ten days.

Quick Facts

Distribution Southern Europe, North Africa, Turkey, Middle East, several parts of Scandinavia, as well as Siberia and parts of India in Asia
Habitat Mostly in the countryside near open areas, as well as fields and coastal cliffs
Host plants Taraxacum, Origanum vulgare, Senecio jacobaea, Carduus spp, Cirsium spp
Adult diet Nectar of knapweed, thistles, dandelion, marjoram, fleabane, vetches and ragwort

Did You Know

  • It has many subspecies, some of them being Colias croceus f. helice, Colias croceus f. deserticola.
  • They are migratory and often come to the United Kingdom mostly in the summers, with their period of migration and breeding known as the “clouded yellow years”.
Colias Croceus
Clouded Yellow Butterflies
Clouded Yellow

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Pieridae
  • Genus: Colias
  • Scientific Name: Colias croceus
Published by Avatar on June 24, 2019.
Last Updated: April 16, 2023. ✅ Verified by: Butterfly Team