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Cloudless 

Sulphur

 

by Sharon LaPlante

The cloudless sulphur, Phoebus sennae, is a frequent visitor to butterfly gardens. It moves rapidly through the garden. If approached it will generally fly for quite a distance before coming to rest.

It is a rather large butterfly, 2 1/8 - 3 inches in size. The male is clear yellow above and yellow to mottled with reddish brown below. The female is lemon-yellow to pale yellow on both surfaces, with slight amounts of black markings along the wing margins.

Some of its preferred nectar flowers are red sage (Salvia coccinea), coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), scarlet morning glory (Ipomoea coccinea), standing cypress (Ipomopsis rubra), red savory (Calamintha coccinea), firebush (Hamelia patens), coral bean (Erythrina herbacea), and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).

Its larval food include partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata), sensitive plant (Chamaecrista nictitans), Bahama cassia (Cassia chapmanii), Maryland cassia (Cassia marilandica), and coffee senna (Cassia occidentalis).

The eggs are yellowish-green, later turning red; laid singly on the underside of the leaf.

The larva are green with bands of black bumps, and a lengthwise yellow stripe on each side.  Coloration is variable and yellow larva may be found eating the (yellow) cassia blooms during the fall affording excellent camouflage.

The chrysalis is generally 1 1/4 inches in length, smooth, pointed at both ends and humped in the middle. Pinkish-green to green in color. Attached vertically to a branch with a silken thread.

 

Ajilvsgi, Geyata. Butterfly Gardening for the South. Taylor Publishing: Dallas, TX. 1990

The Audubon Field Guide to North American Butterflies. Knopf: New York, NY. 1992

 

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