Orange Sulphur

Colias eurytheme

The Orange Sulphur is very common butterfly in Wisconsin. It can be found in early spring until late fall. Like the Clouded Sulphur, the Orange Sulphur seems to peak in numbers in August. Here in central Wisconsin, it is not as common as the Clouded Sulphurs, but almost always can be found in the same fields with that species.

It was very difficult to get a photo that clearly shows the orange on the upper wings. After years of trying, I finally found one that was so dark orange on top that it was very evident from below. In 2005, I was following a female, attempting to get a photo of the upper wings, when a male flew in and started courting her. Both of them were flapping their wings and I was able to take a photo (third image) that clearly shows the upper wings of both sexes. Notice that the male was much smaller, and also had very little if any orange on the wing.

Weekly sightings for Orange Sulphur

Identifying characteristics

Above, the wings are yellow with various amounts of orange scaling, with black marginal borders. The orange is very evident in flight. The males have a solid black border, while the females have yellow spots in the border. Below, the wings are a yellowish-orange color with a faint row of small black marginal spots and a double central spot. Some females of this species, like the Clouded Sulphur, are white instead of yellow.

Similar species

Below, the Orange and Clouded Sulphurs are very similar, but orange on the top of the wing of the Orange Sulphur is very evident in flight, especially in summer individuals which seem to have more orange. White females of this species and the Clouded Sulphur are nearly impossible to differentiate in the field. To confuse things further, these two species do hybridize.

Pink-edged Sulphurs could also be confused with this species. Below, Pink-edged Sulphurs lack the faint row of black marginal spots and have just a single central spot.

Habitat

Open areas, especially hay fields, old fields, prairies, and roadsides near these habitats.

Flight

This species has two to three broods from spring to late fall.

Abundance

This species is most abundant in hay fields, especially with lots of alfalfa and clover. This species is not as abundant as the Clouded Sulphur.

Recent Orange Sulphur Sightings

Date County Reported by
Jul 19, 2017 Dunn Pam Campbell
Jul 18, 2017 Milwaukee Judith Huf
Jul 12, 2017 Dunn Pam Campbell
Jul 11, 2017 Trempealeau NABA Trempealeau Butte...

Locations

Map showing sighting locations for Orange Sulphur
Map key
Orange SulphurClick to enlarge

Female

White River Marsh, Green Lake Co., WI. October 21, 2007.

Orange SulphurClick to enlarge

Petenwell Dam area, Juneau Co., WI. September 26, 2004.

Orange SulphurClick to enlarge

Female shunning a male clouded/orange sulphur

Puchyan Prairie SNA, Green Lake Co., WI. August 26, 2005.