New Jersey Butterflies

Sleepy Orange

Eurema nicippe

Identification: Small—1.7" (similar to Cabbage White). Almost never seen with wings open. Sexes similar. Below: FW bright orange below with a black spot just below the middle of the forward edge. HW bright yellow/orange with dark red diagonal marks and, occasionally, small, dark, concentric flecks. In flight both sexes appear brilliant orange.

NJ Status and Distribution: Normally, a nonresident. Primarily a southern species that regularly strays to southern NJ in small numbers. Surprisingly, an individual was photographed in northern Passaic County in 2012. A small population apparently has recently become irregularly established across the Delaware River at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, Bucks County, PA.

NJ Range Map-Sleepy Orange

Habitat: Open habitats. Can be attracted to flower gardens with the host plants (Chamaecrista and Senna spp.).

Flight Period: June into October but most seen in late summer and fall. Extreme dates: South Jersey 5/15—12/1.

Larval Food Plants: Partridge Peas (Chamaecrista), Wild Sensitive Plant (C. nictitans), and Sennas (Senna, formerly Cassia), several of which grow in NJ.

Overwintering Stage: Not yet known to regularly overwinter in NJ, though it may not be long before some stage is able to survive in milder winters at our latitude. Overwintering in some years is suspected at Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, PA and it appears that in the winter of 2016-2017 that it may have overwintered in Cumberland County.

Best Locations: Belleplain SF; Cape May County south of the canal.

Comments: With a rapidly warming climate, butterfliers in north Jersey might regularly get the chance to see this brilliant little butterfly.

Sleepy Orange

White Lake NRA, Warren Co., NJ, 10/4/13.

Sleepy Orange

Dix WMA, Cumberland Co., NJ, 10/18.