Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Clouded Sulphur - (Colias philodice)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 12/30/2013

The Clouded Sulphur Butterfly and its elemental namesake share the same color, but that's where the similarities end.

The medium-sized Clouded Sulphur butterfly can be seen flying in meadows, near puddles, along roads, in parks, crop fields, gardens and various other floral and/or muddy places. They are comfortable in urban, suburban and rural environs, making it quite likely to see them during the spring, summer and fall months.

Female coloration stretches between bright yellow (like the solid state of sulphur) to greenish-white. Males are a rich, buttery yellow. Both have a double white spot on the forewing, though in males it is usually rimmed with a dark border so it is more visually pronounced. They are very similar in appearance to Orange sulphurs (also in the Colias genus) and can may be mistaken for them in the field. They fly direct routes to their destination, but it may look like they are sloppy in flight. Their front pair of legs are the same length as the others, whereas other families of butterflies have very short front legs. These long legs allow it to comfortably walk.

Caterpillars are chubby and green with a black stripe along the body. They especially enjoy feeding on clover, but they will also eat the leaves of alfalfa and other bean plants.

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Category: Butterfly or Moth
Common name: Clouded Sulphur
Scientific Name: Colias philodice
Other Names: Common Sulphur

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Lepidoptera
      Family: Pieridae
       Genus: Colias
        Species: philodice

Adult Size (Length): 35mm to 51mm (1.38in to 2.01in)

Identifying Colors: yellow; white; brown; red; black; pink; greenish

Additional Descriptors: spot, flying, club

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.