Species of the Week: The Clouded Sulphur

Photo by Nata Culhane

This week’s #SpeciesOfTheWeek is the Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice).  The Clouded Sulphur is a species of meadow butterfly that gets its name from its colour which is similar to that of solid sulphur. The life cycle of the Clouded Sulphur starts when a female lays eggs on clover and similar legumes. Initially cream-coloured, the eggs change colour to red within a couple of days. A few days to a week after the eggs are laid, green caterpillars emerge and begin to eat. They moult several times as they get larger with hibernation occurring in the third or fourth instar in colder climates. When a non-overwintering generation is produced, the pupa requires 10 days in a cocoon in order to emerge as a full-grown butterfly. The Clouded Sulphur is widespread throughout North America, with the exception of Labrador, northern Quebec and the Arctic Regions of Canada.  It is commonly found in lawns and fields, where it drinks from different flowers such as clovers and milkweed. Predators of the Clouded Sulphur include birds, dragonflies, frogs and mantids.

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