The orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme) is also known as the alfalfa butterfly, and when they are at a larval stage, they are known as the alfalfa caterpillar. It is a butterfly species of the Pieridae family 'the whites and sulphurs', and belongs to the lowland of the subfamily Coliadinae 'white and clouded sulphur'. The orange sulphurs are a widespread and common butterfly throughout North America. It is also an underappreciated butterfly probably because they are too common, but seeing one is sure to enlighten our day with their colorfully spread wings. White clover attracts this butterfly species.
The orange sulphurs mostly consist of greenish, orange, yellow colors distributed across their wings, which is even more admirable at flight, or when they open their wings. They are herbivores, who like to feed on flower nectars, pea family, and hence, can be found at a large number in regions filled with flowers and vegetation. The alfalfa butterfly lays eggs on one or different leaves, with up to 1000 eggs scattered. Their population is stable and increasing. However, not all the caterpillars grow up to be adult alfalfa since they get eaten by predators like birds in most cases.
If you find the orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme) interesting, keep reading, and you may also want to visit our fact articles on the puss moth and green june beetle.
Orange Sulphur Butterfly
What do they prey on?
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
Up to 700-1000 eggs
How much do they weigh?
How long are they?
1.5-2.5 in (3.8-6.3 cm)
How tall are they?
What do they look like?
Yellow, green, orange, black
What are their main threats?
Birds, rats, wasps, ants
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
South Canada to Central Mexico, North America, Europe
Orange Sulphur Butterfly Interesting Facts
What type of animal is an Orange Sulphur Butterfly?
The Orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme) is a type of butterfly species under the subspecies Coliadinae.
What class of animal does an Orange Sulphur Butterfly belong to?
The orange sulphurs belong to the Insecta class of animals.
How many Orange Sulphur Butterflies are there in the world?
The population of orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme) butterflies present in the world is unknown, since they have a stable population, even though their number has declined due to climate change and predators.
Where does an Orange Sulphur Butterfly live?
Orange sulphurs are found in abundance in North America, and they live in any open spaces or in rolled leaves, while some have their habitat inside vegetables, if the female alfalfa butterfly laid eggs on it. Their distribution is mostly in the woods, savanna, and tropical grasslands, where vegetation and flower plants are found abundantly since they feed on their nectar. Sometimes, the caterpillars can also be found inside vegetables including cabbage, lettuce, iceberg lettuce, pea family, and so on.
What is an Orange Sulphur Butterfly's habitat?
The Orange sulphur(Colias eurytheme) prefers open habitats right from sea level to the mountains, including meadows, pastures, agricultural fields, lawns, with distributions across North America, Southern Canada, Southern Mexico, Asia, and Europe. They can be found mostly during the spring season, until the late fall season, when there are a lot of blooming flowers. This is how they will find the most food. The caterpillars are kept in safe coiled plants or inside vegetables to keep from extreme weather conditions and from predators.
Who do Orange Sulphur Butterflies live with?
The Orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme) are solitary butterflies who tend to live alone or in small groups of no more than four.
How long does an Orange Sulphur Butterfly live?
The lifespan of an adult orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme) is generally around two to four weeks, but if they manage to hibernate during the cold winter season, they can live up to a year. However, not all manage to survive the winter, and it is very rare for them to live for a year.
How do they reproduce?
During a breeding season in summer, an orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme) can mate and lay eggs several times. Among this species, the males are responsible for initiating to breed or mate, and to do so, he emits a pheromone to alert their presence to females. The pattern of mating and the amount of pheromone vary greatly among the orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme) males. The male and female then copulate once the females accept the male. The female then looks for host plants to lay her eggs, which is generally a similar plant as where the adults feed on nectars, including alfalfa and clover Trifolium plants. Then the females, on the plant, lay a white, tiny, spindle-shaped egg which turns crimson with time, and after several days hatch to a caterpillar with no wings and looks like worms in green color, and feeds on the host plants. They tend to feed at night, and they mostly consume pea family, legumes, clover Trifolium, including alfalfa. Once the caterpillars fattened, they look for a place to build their chrysalis and metamorphose. After 9-15 days, they transform from a caterpillar into beautiful butterflies, with bright, colorful, and attractive wings.
What is their conservation status?
The Orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme) has a conservation status of Not Extinct, since they have a stable population.
Orange Sulphur Butterfly Fun Facts
What does Orange Sulphur Butterfly look like?
These butterflies have a bright yellowish color and orange on their upper wings. Males have a black color border and possess ridges with lamellae, which results in reflect ultraviolet upper wings, but females have acquired a wider border with a row of yellow spots on them but have no UV reflection like the males. The side of the wings is dark, and more like black to look at, which makes it easy to differentiate the species from other butterflies. The clouded sulphur and the orange sulphur are quite difficult to distinguish, but they can be differentiated through their color differences, where the orange sulphur has some orange in its wings, whereas the clouded sulphur has pure lemon yellow.
How cute are they?
Butterflies are cute, but you must be very careful while touching them, since they are delicate beings who can easily lose their scales along with their colors upon touching them. It is always better to watch and admire their existence from far, and leave them unharmed and undisturbed.
How do they communicate?
The means of communication between this insects are unknown and unidentified.
How big is an Orange Sulphur Butterfly?
The orange sulphur is 10 times bigger than a bee or a housefly.
How fast can an Orange Sulphur Butterfly fly?
They fly in a slow and calm manner, and being a small flying animal, they don't possess a great flight speed.
How much does an Orange Sulphur Butterfly weigh?
The weight of these small and light creatures remains unknown since they barely weigh anything as they are covered with delicate and wings that hold no weight.
What are their male and female names of the species?
The male and female sleepy orange sulphur butterflies do not have separate names.
What would you call a baby Orange Sulphur Butterfly?
A baby sulphur butterfly is simply known as a larval or caterpillar.
What do they eat?
Their food mainly consists of plant material, vegetables, and flower nectar.
Are they poisonous?
This butterfly species is not poisonous in any way.
Would they make a good pet?
It is rare to have a butterfly as a pet, since they love open areas, and feed on flower nectars. It would be best to leave them to thrive in their natural habitat range where there are numerous plants for them to feed on.
Did you know...
The orange wings of the orange sulphur species is greatly evident during flight.
How do you tell the difference between Cloudless Sulphur and an Orange-barred Sulphur Butterfly?
The orange barred sulphur species is larger than the cloudless sulphur. Also, the orange barred sulphur has a deeper yellow with dark spots on its wings, while the cloudless sulphur is fully bright lemon yellow in color.
How rare is an Orange Sulphur Butterfly?
It is quite rare to spot an orange sulphur, but you can spot them in the Northern parts of America and Europe during spring or summer.
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