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Insects and other arthropods

Clouded sulphur

Colias philodice

Tabs group


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.

Life cycle

Like all butterflies, clouded sulphurs undergo complete metamorphosis. They go through four distinct stages in their development: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and adult. After mating, the females lay their eggs individually on host plants. The eggs are initially a cream colour, but turn red after a day or two and grey when they are ready to hatch. The caterpillars feed on the leaves of the host plants, and moult several times before pupating. Then the adult butterflies emerge.

There are three to five generations a year, depending on the latitude. The insects overwinter as caterpillars in the third or fourth instar.

Geographic distribution

The species is found almost everywhere in North America, including central and southeastern Canada.


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