Clouded Sulfur Butterfly

(Colias philodice)

The Clouded Sulfur is a dainty yellow butterfly common throughout most of the United States and Canada except for the coastal regions of Florida, Texas and California.

It is on the wing from spring to fall in most areas, sometimes longer in warm climates.

They are also known as the Mud Puddle Butterfly, because males are fond of gathering around moist areas on roadsides and gardens.

Clouded Sulfur and the closely related Orange sulfur (Colias eurytheme), has followed the spread of agriculture, since the larvae feed on various members of the pea family, such as clover and alfalfa.

Although pests to farmers, both species of sulfur are ideal for butterfly gardeners, since clover and alfalfa are easy to grow in home gardens.

Clouded Sulfur Description:

Both genders typically have pale yellow wings above with no traces of orange, unlike its close cousin the orange sulfur which may also be yellowish. Males have clean borders, while females have yellow dots within this region.

Females sometimes exhibit a white form known as 'Alba'.

The underside of the male's wings is yellow while the female's is yellow or greenish white, and both have a doubled hind-wing spot trimmed in brownish red. The hind-wings show a series of four small red spots along the outer third portion, a trait that distinguishes the other North America species such as Colias interior, with exception of the orange sulphur which also shows them.

From wing tip to wing tip, it measure from 1 and 1/3 inches to 2 and 3/8 inches (32-54 mm).


Sulfurs are found in various open areas where clover abounds, including fields, roadsides, parks and yards and gardens.

Swarms of these butterflies will congregate at mud puddles. They range over most of North America with the exception of Labrador, Nunavut, and northern Quebec.

Various members of the pea family, especially clovers (Trifolium), are the principal host plants.


Members of this family can often be seen basking with their wings closed, sideways to the sun.

Male sulfurs patrol areas looking for receptive females and often congregate at mud puddles.

Sometimes the Clouded and Orange Sulfurs interbreed, producing hybrid butterflies that have certain characteristics of both parents.

Larvae and Host Plants:

Clouded sulfur larvae

The Orange sulphur is more partial to Alfalfa.

Larvae are dark green, with a dark stripe on the back and a lighter stripe on the side.

Nectar Flowers:

Aster (Aster), Goldenrod (Solidago), Phlox (Phlox), Clover (Trifolium) and others.

Clouded Sulfur and Other Common Butterflies

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