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Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly (Phoebis sennae)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 2/15/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly  
Picture of Cloudless-Sulphur-Butterfly
Picture of Cloudless-Sulphur-Butterfly Picture of Cloudless-Sulphur-Butterfly

Cloudless Sulphurs migrate north in warmer months, stretching their typical range across the U.S. so everyone can see them in the summer.

Cloudless Sulphurs are prolific in the southern U.S. and Mexico where they can produce 3 or 4 broods a year. They migrate to the north every year where the cold weather limits them to 1 or 2 broods before returning south. This species closely resembles the Clouded Sulphur in both name and appearance. Both have similar yellow colors, with only slight variations in spot placement and forewing shape. These minute features help distinguish them from each other, if they are around long enough to study. Look for Cloudless Sulphurs in a variety of areas with flowers or mud puddles. They are versatile and wander through backyards, construction sites, woodland edges, parks, and fields in addition to tropical forests and beaches. They are strong, fast fliers, and seem to rarely stop long enough to take a proper rest.

The larvae of this species is completely yellow at first. It develops 10 black-brown bands which 'segment' it from head to rear. These black bands part to allow a thin green line in-between them. Black dots cover the yellow body and each black & green band ends in a black dot above the legs on each side of the body. The black/green bands fade away as the caterpillar prepares to pupate. The pupa resembles a yellow-green leaf, allowing it to blend into foliage. It prefers to feed on the leaves of senna, a type of flowering legume.

Picture of the Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly
Picture of the Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly Information

Category: Butterfly or Moth
Common Name: Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly
Scientific Name: Phoebis sennae

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Lepidoptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Pieridae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Phoebis
       Arrow graphic Species: sennae

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 55 mm to 70 mm (2.145 inches to 2.73 inches)
Identifying Colors: yellow, green, black
Additional Descriptors: flying, harmless, fast,

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; 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; Ontario; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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