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Sleepy Orange Sulphur (Abaeis nicippe)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Sleepy Orange Sulphur

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Image Credit: Arch Baker
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Image Credit: Mary H., taken in Picacho Peak State Park, AZ
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The slow-flying Sleepy Orange Sulphur seems to float about in a daze, enjoying the warmer regions of the continent.

Updated: 01/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The sleepy part of the Sleepy Orange Sulphur may refer to its drowsy appearance in flight. It may also have something to do with the 'closed' dot on the top of the forewing. When the wings are open flat, black borders are obvious. Less noticeable is the small black crescent near the upper edge of each forewing. In many other Sulphurs, this mark is a solid black dot. This crescent shape resembles a closed eye without eyelashes. The Sleepy Orange is indeed yellow-orange. The underside of the wings are covered in brown-red markings that look similar to a network or veins or capillaries. These markings are darker during winter in the southern part of its range. In addition to these fine lines, three thicker brown bars are spread throughout the middle area of the forewing along with two small brown dots near the bottom edge of each wing.

In the warmer south, the Sleepy Orange is active all year. In the cooler northern states, activity ends in autumn. Adults drink nectar from flowers. Larvae eat from plants in the Senna and Cassia family. Caterpillars are green and fleshy with a single white line along the bottom edge of each side. Look for flying adults in open fields and lots, along the roadside, and in desert brush.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Pieridae
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          Genus: Abaeis
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            Species: nicippe
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Abaeis nicippe
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 35mm to 57mm (1.37" to 2.24")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow; orange; brown; black
Descriptors: band; dot; veins; flying

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 35mm (1.4in) and 57mm (2.2in)
Lo: 35mm
Md: 46mm
Hi: 57mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
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Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
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Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Sleepy Orange Sulphur may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Sleepy Orange Sulphur. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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