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Clouded sulphur

Colias philodice

The males have bright yellow wings with black borders. The forewings each have a dark round spot, while the hindwings have a lighter, orange spot. The females in the springtime generation are mostly yellow, while those in the fall generation are mainly white.

These butterflies have wingspans of 30 to 50 mm. Individuals in the springtime and fall generations tend to be smaller.

The green caterpillars have a white and pale pink stripe on both sides. The chrysalis is green with a yellow band and some black dots.



This large family consists of small or medium-sized white, yellow or orange butterflies with orange wingtips. They often have dark or red markings on their wings, and spots visible only in ultraviolet light, thought to be used for courtship. With the Papilionidae, these are the only butterflies to have three sets of fully developed functional legs in both sexes.

The Coliadinae subfamily comprises yellow and orange butterflies called sulphurs and orangetips. They often have black-bordered wings. The members of the Pierinae subfamily are generally white with black markings or white with orange-tipped forewings.

Silvery blue

Glaucopsyche lygdamus

It’s easy to see where this small butterfly gets its name: its wings are blue on top and silvery beneath. The top of the wing in the males is an iridescent blue, with a narrow dark border. In the females the blue is darker and the border is wider. Both sexes have a white fringe around the wings, and a row of white-ringed black spots on top. Their wingspan is 3.2 cm.

Gossamer-winged butterflies


This large family consists of small, often very colourful or iridescent butterflies, many of them rare. They have three sets of functional legs, but the first pair is smaller in most of the males. The antennae and eyes are usually ringed with white.

The Lycaenidae can be divided into four subfamilies:
1. Blues (subfamily Polyommatinae) owe their name to the colour of the upper surface of their wings. The females are often darker than the males.
2. Coppers (subfamily Lycaeninae) are orange or brown, with dark markings.
3. Hairstreaks and elfins (subfamily Theclinae) are recognizable by the two or three small tails on their hindwings. Often grey or brown, they have colourful markings on the underside of their wings.
4. Harvesters (subfamily Melitaeinae) are distinguished from other Lycaenidae by their special wing veins.


Danaus plexippus plexippus

Monarchs are butterflies with orange, black-veined wings. Each wing has a black border with rows of white dots. Their wingspan of 93 to 105 mm makes them some of the largest butterflies in Quebec.

Males have two tiny black spots on the top of their hind wings. The black bands on the females’ wings are also wider.

Black swallowtail

Papilio polyxenes asterius

This butterfly’s wingspan is between 9 and 10 cm. Its black wings have two rows of yellow spots along the edges. The lower wings have an orange spot with a black centre on the bottom edge, and the tip of the wing is long and thin.

Females can be distinguished from males by their larger abdomens and a wide band of blue scales on their back wings. The two rows of yellow spots are less pronounced in females.



In most species of Papilionidae (swallowtail butterflies), the back wings have a long tip at the end that looks like a swallow’s tail. Most swallowtail caterpillars have an osmeterium, an organ with two small horns that produces a foul odour. Some have large eyespots that can frighten predators.


Limenitis archippus

This butterfly’s wingspan ranges from 6.5 to 7.5 cm. Their orange colour contrasts with their black ribs. There is one row of white spots along the wide black edge of their wings.

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