Currently viewing the category: "Sulphur and White Caterpillars"
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Phoebis sennae marcellina
Location: Londrina-Paraná-BRASIL
April 9, 2012 2:54 pm
Phoebis sennae marcellina
Signature: Eduardo Lucof

Cloudless Sulphur Caterpillar

Hi again Eduardo,
Thank you for submitting your four caterpillar photos from Brazil.  We are posting the Cloudless Sulphur Caterpillar,
Phoebis sennae marcellina, and we will try to post others if time permits.  Cloudless Sulphurs are now residents in the Los Angeles area where the What’s That Bug? offices are located.  They are not native, but cultivation of their food plants, the cassia tree, in gardens has provided a source of food for the caterpillars enabling the species to establish itself.  We are linking to the Butterflies of America page on the Cloudless Sulphur.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Caterpillar ID
Location: Tampa, FL
November 4, 2011 3:34 pm
We are located in Tampa, FL. My neighbor found a tree full of these yellow w/ black stripes caterpillars.
Any ideas? What will they turn into?
Signature: Thanks, Heidi

Cloudless Sulfur Caterpillar, possibly

Hi Heidi,
We believe we have correctly identified your caterpillar as that of a Cloudless Sulfur butterfly,
Phoebis sennae, though the resolution on your photo prohibits definitive identification.  If you can provide the name of the tree or a description of the tree, it might help to confirm our identification.  The caterpillars of the Cloudless Sulfur feed on the leaves and blossoms of Cassia and related trees.  These trees generally have showy yellow flowers.  Here is a photo on Bugguide of a Cloudless Sulfur caterpillar on the food plant.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Black Jezebel Chrysalis (close to emerging)
Location: South Coast NSW Australia
December 4, 2010 2:56 am
Just an update on the chrysalis i found, 2 pics before and after 1 hour to show how much it has changed within an hour.
Signature: Wade, Australia.

Black Jezebel Pupa

Hi Again Wade,
Thanks so much for sending us this better focused image of your Black Jezebel Chrysalis.  It is a nice accompaniment to your earlier email.  It is marvelous the way the coloration begins to show just prior to emergence.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What is this cocoon?
Location: Australia, New south wales
December 1, 2010 6:23 am
Yo bugman, well i live in australia new south wales and have lived here all my life and never seen this insect before its currently a cocoon, that is yellow with black spikes i found it on a spinach leaf from my garden, i was wondering if you could give me some insight into what it might be and if it could be dangerous to me or my garden.
Signature: Wade.

Black Jezabel Chrysalis

Hi Wade,
This appears to be a Butterfly Chrysalis, but we need to research the species.

Identified as Jezabel Chrysalis by Keith Wolfe
Gidday Wade and Daniel,
This unmistakable pupa is that of Delias, one of the so-called Jezebels — almost certainly D. nigrina, if memory serves me correctly.  I’ll write a bit more about these most interesting butterflies after I return home later today.
Best wishes,
Keith Wolfe

Thanks so much Keith.  Your comments are always valued contributions.  The Brisbane Insect website has a nice photo of the chrysalis of the Common Jezabel, Delias nigrina, and the Australian Caterpillar website also has confirming photographs.

Karl also supplies the identification
Hi Daniel and Wade:
It appears to be the chrysalis of a Black Jezabel (also Common Jezabel), Delias nigrina (Pieridae: Pierinae).  It ranges along the east coast of Australia from Queensland to Victoria. The caterpillars feed on a variety of mistletoes. If Google Translate works for you, you can see a really nice series of photos here, of an adult emerging from its chrysalis.  Regards. Karl

More information from Keith Wolfe
December 4, 2010
Hello again, Wade.  Regarding “dangerous to me or my garden”, the answer is a definite NO — unless you or those dear have a craving for caterpillar/chrysalis cuisine.  The highly gregarious larvae (group repellent defense) and aposematic pupae and adults (warningly colored) of Jezebels presumably advertise their unpalatability to vertebrate predators, the toxins being derived from the mistletoe plants that caterpillars eat.  Mistletoes typically grow in the upper reaches of host trees where the eggs are laid and hatchlings develop, with fully mature individuals often descending to lower levels a month or so later to pupate.  Depending upon ambient conditions and larval luck, you should be treated to a beautiful Black Jezebel butterfly in the days ahead.
Hope this helps, Wade.  Hooroo mate!

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


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Sulphur caterpillar rescue and cocoon
October 22, 2009
I think this is an orange barred sulphur based on photos I’ve seen. We rescued this caterpillar and it’s brother from a family member’s cassia tree (she was going to kill them!). I cried a little and she let me take them off and bring them home.
Anyway, we bought cassia bushes for them the next day and they both formed cocoons within 48 hours. So exciting!
Here’s the strange part: a few days later we looked at the bushes and there were five sulphur caterpillars! We’re completely stumped because we searched the bushes carefully everyday for eggs and there were none to be found. The caterpillars were all different sizes (including two full grown). Can caterpillars crawl from another place to a host tree? I thought they ate where they were hatched. Anyway, we’re so excited to have our first butterfly nursery. The new caterpillars look more like cloudless sulphurs, though.
Elizabeth from Orlando
Orlando, Florida

Orange Sulphur Caterpillar

Orange Barred Sulphur Caterpillar

Hi Elizabeth,
WE often have trouble distinguishing the Orange Barred Sulphur from the Cloudless Sulphur in the caterpillar phase.  Phoebis philea, the Orange Barred Sulphur, which can be viewed on BugGuide, and its more widespread relative, the Cloudless Sulphur, Pheobis sennae, also viewable on BugGuide, both have variable caterpillars.  It seems yellow caterpillars often are found feeding on the flowers and green caterpillars are found feeding on the leaves.  Both are masters of camouflage.  Caterpillars can grow quickly.  It is entirely possible you missed the caterpillars on the Cassia plant when you purchased it, and we consider that to be far likelier than that the new caterpillars migrated from elsewhere.  We would reserve exact species identification until the adults emerge.

Orange Sulphur Chrysalis

Orange Barred Sulphur Chrysalis

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination