Sunday, August 23, 2009

Butterfly & Caterpillar: Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

I saw a few Cloudless Sulphurs earlier in the spring. But lately it seems that the sky has been alive with them. The Cloudless Sulphurs are larger than most of the ‘Whites and Yellows.’ In contrast to most of the ‘Yellows’ their wings are distinctly greenish-yellow. So it is easy to spot them at a distance. For the last week or so, I have seen more than a dozen each day on my 15-mile commute.

They like the Senna obtusifolia (Sicklepod, Coffeeweed) bush and lay eggs on them. This year we have a cluster of bushes by the greenhouse and I’ve been treated to seeing many of them during recent weeks.

This butterfly is a little the worse for wear but it posed for me this morning and, in spite of having lost part of its wings, it is still a beautiful specimen. In addition, I’ve seen a number of its caterpillars.

The caterpillars are apple green with lateral ridges with blue spots evenly distributed along them.

They have a yellow stripe that runs the length of their bodies. The blue dots occur as denser clusters near the stripes.

In full sunshine they appear more lime green although the blue dots and yellow stripe are still prominent.

Identification resources:

- Bug Guide: Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) [Butterfly] [Caterpillar]

- West Central Georgia Butterflies by Michael Beohm: Cloudless Sulphur (
Phoebis sennae)
- Ohio Birds and Diversity: Amazing Cloudless Sulphur photos

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