Home / Whites and Sulphurs (Pieridae) / Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

Cloudless Sulphur

The Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly is a species of medium-sized, bright yellow butterflies that are spread across a large area covering the two Americas, in three different subspecies.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Pieridae
  • Genus: Phoebis
  • Common names: Sulphur Butterfly
  • Scientific Name: Phoebis sennae

Description and Identification


Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly Caterpillar

Cloudless Sulphur Larvae

After hatching out, the caterpillars come out with a bright yellow to green stripes by their sides and rows of dark dots across their back part. The caterpillars are usually nocturnal, building their own tents in the host plants to spend the day inside. The host plant may be partridge pea (Chamaecrista cinerea), sennas (Senna), clovers (Trifolium), or other legumes (Fabaceae). The caterpillar will usually grow to a length between 41 and 45 mm (1.6 and 1.8 in).


Cloudless Sulphur Chrysalis jaxshells.org

The chrysalis is green or yellow, with stripes in green or pink, and has a bizarre shape in order to camouflage with the leaves of their hosts, with a humped middle part and pointed at the ends.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Not significantly visible

Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the males display a bright yellow coloration, while the females have a lighter hue that seems to be lemon to light golden yellow with a very fine and dark marginal border that can be visible upon close examination. When the wings are closed, the males show a light hue of reddish brown, and the females exhibit the same color on the ventral side as the dorsal.

Phoebis sennae

Sulphur Butterfly

Average wingspan: 55–70 mm (2.2–2.8 in)

Flight pattern: Fast


Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly Eggs jtrahan.com

These are initially white and turn pale orange, before hatching into a larva within six days.

Quick Facts

Distribution From South America to the southern parts of Canada (most common in Argentina to southern regions of Texas, Georgia, and Florida in the US)
Habitat Prefer open spaces, seashores, water bodies, glades, and gardens
Lifespan of adults 2 to 4 weeks (average)
Host plants Legume plants including partridge pea, sennas, and clovers
Adult diet Nectar

Did You Know?

  • This species is relatively larger I size than most other members of the Pieridae family.

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly Host Plant

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly

Cloudless Sulphur Images

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Pieridae
  • Genus: Phoebis
  • Common names: Sulphur Butterfly
  • Scientific Name: Phoebis sennae
Published by Avatar on October 2, 2018.
Last Updated: August 5, 2023. ✅ Verified by: Butterfly Team