Clouded Sulphur Butterfly – Colias philodice

Clouded Sulphur Butterfly – Colias philodice
Live adult butterflies photographed at northern Illinois. Family Pieridae / Subfamily: Coliadinae – Sulphurs
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Clouded Sulphur Male nectaring on red clover near Chicago

The Common Sulphur Butterfly is popularly known as the Clouded Sulphur. These butterflies are known to hybridize with the Orange Sulphur, and specimens are very difficult to tell apart. The Illinois Butterfly Monitor Network treats these as one species for counting purposes.

Habitat: Meadows and fields; almost any open spaces, parks and pastures. Flight: Several broods March to December in south.
Range: North America except most of Florida. Life Cycle: Eggs are chartreuse, laid singly on various legumes, especially clovers (Trifolium). Caterpillar bright green with darker stripe on back, lighter green stripe on side. Green chrysalis overwinters. These butterflies are some of the most abundant here in the American midwest.

I have seen these butterflies active as late as mid-November in northern Illinois

Common or Clouded Sulphur Butterfly


  1., Clouded Sulphur Butterfly
  2. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects & Spiders Chanticleer Press 1980
  3. Eric Eaton & Ken Kaufman, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
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Order Lepidoptera, which contains both butterflies and moths, includes at least 125,000 known species including 12,000 in North America. Butterflies are revered for their brightly colored wings and pleasing association with fair weather and flowers.
Learn to identify many of the American Midwest's common species through descriptions and large diagnostic photos of live, wild specimens.
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