Sulfur Butterflies

By William T. Hathaway

Sulfur Butterflies

The showy yellow flowers of several early-blooming mustard plants are now forming golden patches in nearby fields. Fluttering among these prolific floral sites may be seen hordes of little butterflies vying for their place in the sun in which to feed or lay eggs. The colors and variety of these little butterflies present a challenge to their specific identification. Beginning entomologists may come close to mastering the types after several seasons of study.

On the left in the photograph is pictured the male above and female below of the Clouded-Sulphur Butterfly (Colias philodice). On the right is pictured the male above and female below of the Alfalfa Butterfly (Colias eurytheme). Adding to the confusion is the fact that both species may hybridize and also have variable color phases between the males and females. With limited curiosity most of us should be satisfied to see these amazing little airborne jewels just “flutter by.”


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