Thursday, August 6, 2015

A party of clouded sulphurs

Clouded sulphur butterflies are found all over the North American continent except for Mexico, northern parts of eastern Canada and the Gulf and Pacific coasts. It is widespread and common and even ranges north to the Arctic Ocean in Yukon.

These folk were avid for the cup plant flowers, the yellow ones. There were times that four of them were on a flower head, but I only got shots of three at a time.

They nectar on several milkweeds, butterfly bush, several coneflowers (as you can see), alfalfa, dandelion, clover species and a verbena. They lay their eggs on ground plum, a couple of vetches, soy beans, alfalfa, clovers, and black locust. There are three to five hatchings of them per year, depending on conditions and location. Three in the Arctic, and five in the southern reaches of its range ... So I'm thinking no wonder we always see these innocuous beauties!

Clearly they like other species to nectar upon, since the one they grouped up on is a Silphium perfoliatum, which was not mentioned as a nectar flower.

A photo I haven't gotten yet is the fluttering, apparently twinkling, clouds of them above the red clover on the spur road. But it is a shoulderless two-lane, and I'm less inclined to stop and shoot photos than I might otherwise be. But it's a sight to see.

Another place it's easily seen is at puddles, mud or wet soil, as the sulphur is an avid mudpuddler. These shots were in my driveway, many hours after a rain. Clearly there was moisture there. They can also be seen in clover fields or along roadsides. The growth of forage-crop production for livestock across North America has greatly expanded the range and numbers of this butterfly.

This is the dorsal view. Most of my photos are of the folded/ventral view.

Male clouded sulphur

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