New Jersey Butterflies

Orange Sulphur

Colias eurytheme

Identification: Small—1.9" (slightly larger than Cabbage White). Almost never seen with its wings open. Below: FW and HW bright yellow, with deep orange on the FW usually seen extending just above the HW margin. HW with pink-rimmed silvery spot in center. Some females of this and Clouded Sulphur are very whitish, especially above, and are not separable in the field. Extensive black wing margins above and presence of silvery spot on HW separate these white-form females from (the even whiter) Cabbage White.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Common and widespread throughout.

NJ Range Map-Orange Sulphur

Habitat: Open, sunny, upland fields and wet meadows. Easily attracted to gardens with flowers such as Butterfly Bush, Purple Coneflower, asters, and milkweeds.

Flight Period: Overlapping broods resulting in an extended flight period from March through December. Extreme dates: North Jersey 3/7—12/31; South Jersey 1/1—12/31.

Larval Food Plants: Alfalfa, clovers, and many other legumes.

Overwintering Stage: Pupa and larva.

Best Locations: Anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes abundant in Alfalfa fields.

Comments: Not always easy to separate from Clouded Sulphur, especially when faded or when the forewing is not visible. The 2 species are known to hydridize, producing some bewildering individuals. And to confuse matters even more, very pale yellow individuals are frequently seen. So do not be embarrassed to admit that you have seen a sulphur, species unknown.

An underappreciated butterfly, perhaps because it is so common. But seeing a fresh Orange Sulphur on an intense purple New England Aster will convince you otherwise.



Orange Sulphur

Kenvil, Morris Co., NJ, 7/7/09, on Common Milkweed.


Orange Sulphur

Metuchen, Middlesex Co., NJ, 10/9/06, on New England Aster.


Orange Sulphur

Sandy Hook, Monmouth Co., NJ, 8/28/06.