What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

lime green butterflies in Missouri
December 17, 2009
Can you tell me anything about these beautiful butterflies? I’ve lived in Missouri all of my life and have not seen them before, or since, I took these photos.
Catherine Dukleth
Clarence Cannon Nat’l Wildlife Refuge – Missouri

Puddling Cloudless Sulphurs and Kin

Puddling Cloudless Sulphurs and Kin

Hi Catherine,
We were going to write that Missouri is sure warm this time of year until we realized your photos are dated from September.  The larger butterflies in your awesome photo are Cloudless Sulphurs, Pheobis sennae, a tropical species that flies year round in the southern United States where it has naturalized.  It has also naturalized in Southern California, no doubt due to the cultivation of cassia, the larval food plant.  According to BugGuide, the range is the “Southern United States; often migrates north in late summer/fall, sometimes reaching northern states and southern Ontario (see US distribution map).  Permanent resident in the tropics, occurring south to the tip of South America.
”  The smaller butterflies in your photos are probably members of the genus Colias, but we cannot identify the exact species without a closer view.  Several species, including the Clouded Sulphur and the Orange Sulphur,  fly in your area from spring through fall, and the caterpillars feed on clover and other legumes.  Your photos depict mud puddling or a puddling party where large aggregations of butterflies gather at mud or wet soil to drink.  They obtain nutrients including salts and amino acids from the activity.  Wikipedia has a page on mud puddling.

Puddling Cloudless Sulphurs and kin

Puddling Cloudless Sulphurs and kin

THANKS!!!!!!!!!!  THAT’S AWESOME!!!  HAVE A GREAT HOLIDAY SEASON!!!
CATH

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

2 Responses to Puddling Sulphur Butterflies

  1. Brianna says:

    Most of the smaller ones are clouded sulphurs. They are much smaller and have a wing span of 2 inches. I am currently caring for a clided sulphur that is female, she will be a
    Mommy soon. She is small and eats water with a teaspoon of sugar. This picture you have taken , is were they origanlly fly in large groups close to the ground. If it was warm
    Then they were puddling. Most males do this, the males need the minerals for mating. It seems that they were just resting. Also even though its September they usally fly from
    Early spring to september maybe to December.. You may find a crysalus of these amazingly beautiful creatures, if the butterfly doesnt emerge from the crysalus before winter, it will stay in the cocoon until early spring.if you happen to catch a butterfly of this specie and you cannot get it to feed off of a flower in its food range, mix a small bit of water with a tablespoon of house sugar that you would use and take the butterfly out of were you keep it, and it will feed from the water. Make sure its shallow, for if its deep then its wings will get wet and it may drown.

    -Hope I have helped You

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