The World of Sulphur Butterflies

One of the most widespread and abundant butterflies in North America is the pretty little sulphur,  We are all familiar with these yellow butterflies of the Pieridae family fluttering low over fields and open areas.The name ‘butterfly‘ is thought to have originated from a member of this family.

They are fast moving insects and I find them frustrating to photograph. The one I finally caught with my camera after many blurry attempts may be the Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice) or it could be the Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme). They can be very tricky to tell apart… especially because hybrids between the two can occur. sulphur.butterflyThey perch with wings closed so it is difficult to photograph the upper side, which should have an orange flush if it is an Orange Sulphur. Sometimes black edging can be seen through the upheld wings and can help identify whether male or female.

They seem to be everywhere at this time of year and are one of the last butterflies flying in late autumn. They breed from spring through the fall. On average, they live  for less than a week, however as the cold season approaches, the caterpillars overwinter in either the third or fourth stage or as a chrysalis. We will look forward to seeing them again in the spring as small pats of butter dancing over fields.